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Book Review: The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir

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As HBO's The Tudors comes to a close, some may be interested in separating the fact from the fiction regarding Henry VIII and his wives, if not the overarching politics of Tudor England. Author Alison Weir has made a niche for herself in this respect; she writes both well-researched histories and engrossing novels.

In The Lady in the Tower, Weir paints a vivid picture of the days leading up to Anne Boleyn's arrest and conviction: the queen's mounting fears and the sword that hangs over her head.

But this is no novel, and Weir does not color her prose with bias or any more empathy than one might have for any person in such a situation. Instead, the author takes what is known, based on existing letters and other evidence, and what is likely, extrapolated from various "why" and "what if" scenarios, and constructs a compelling case for why Boleyn may have been guilty of something, but probably not of that of which she was accused.

Moreover, Weir's writing is readable, so even as The Lady in the Tower is well researched, it is not bogged down with the weight that some histories and biographies carry. Even at 464 pages it is a quick read for anyone truly interested in the subject.

Almost everyone knows what happened to Anne Boleyn, so the "fun" (for the reader, if not for her) is in the getting there — understanding as best we can what happened and why.

Weir is the best of guides on that journey.

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