Member Reviews

I'm usually a big fan of anything Anne Boleyn. This was a well written, informative read. Highly recommend!

Was this review helpful?

This was such a great read! I love historical fiction. I love learning while being entertained and this did not disappoint!

Was this review helpful?

For centuries, Anne Boleyn has fascinated many, due to her rise from courtier's daughter to the Queen of England and to her tragic execution. Many have written on her life as Queen and her downfall; however, writings of her origins have been few.

In Thorns, Lust and Glory, Estelle Paranque elaborates on Anne Boleyn's formative years in the French royal court and its influence on her. Paranque focuses on the political climate, as well as the ramifications, in Europe during Henry VIII's pursuit of Anne. Additionally, Paranque focuses on how Anne's own loyalties and French connections leave her vulnerable; thus, leading to her ruin and execution.

Paranque has taken a new approach in addressing Anne Boleyn. Paranque does not elaborate on Anne's execution, a subject that has been overly discussed, but instead provides insight into the aspects that lead to Anne's execution. Paranque has provided a fascinating perspective into Henry VIII's Tudor court, as well as the political climate surrounding Anne Boleyn's rise and fall. A refreshing new take on Anne Boleyn.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley, Estelle Paranque, and Hachette Books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of Thorns, Lust, and Glory: The Betrayal of Anne Boleyn. I received an advanced reader copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

I have read a lot of books regarding the Tudors, most have been about Anne Boleyn specifically. This is the first one that I have read which delved so deeply into her time in France. Usually, this point of her life is briefly mentioned and then it jumps to her life at court in England. I really loved this information being included because it helps the reader understand how she became the woman that she did. Her adulthood was greatly influenced by her formative years in France.

Everything about her timeline was presented with great organization. It was very obvious that a lot of research was done to shape this book. I could not find fault with anything. This was my first time reading a book written by Estelle Paranque and I will now try to find more by her.

Was this review helpful?

Where to begin with this book? If you have never read anything about the wives of Henry VIII and you run across this book, it might pique your interest (or not...) and lead you to better books. If you've already read those better books, this one is going to be hard to swallow.

Paranque's thesis seems to be that, as she states at one point, Anne was "practically a French princess," and that the main thing that was important to her in her role as favorite and then queen was to promote the interests of France. Furthermore, ultimately she was betrayed by the French for whom she'd done so much work over the course of ten years in Henry's favor, when they not only stepped back from an English alliance, but also didn't sufficiently support the English appeals to Rome over her marriage and didn't speak up for her when she was framed and railroaded to the block. Not only this, she was essentially an English spy at the heart of the French court during her teen years.

I have problems with all of this. While Anne spent nearly ten years being educated in French courts and gaining a polish of French culture that made her interesting and exotic at home, I doubt she was ever allowed by her father (a prominent English ambassador to France) to forget she was English and her life was going to be in England - whether or not he was using her as his spy in the queen's household. While she always felt an affinity for France thereafter, I don't believe that she saw her role at the heart of the English monarchy as the promotion of French interests.

The book's main focus is the political climate in Europe between 1514 and 1536, with France, the Holy Roman Empire/Spain, and the pope jockeying for position and England trying to find ways to play a role. This is interesting, but the purpose to which it is being used (to prove Anne was a French asset) rings false and you are left wondering what to do with all the details. The thing I gained from this is that Henry's insistence on going his own way and separating from Rome was more dangerous than I'd previously appreciated, and threw the balance of power into greater chaos. It didn't make me believe that the great betrayal of Anne came from France.

Paranque also has an annoying habit of taking quotations from diplomatic and state papers, writing them up as conversation, and modernizing some of the idioms to the point of anachronism. Nobody in 16th century England would have said Henry "moved in with" his mistress. It's hard to know what's real and what is made up, in such a context. The book also needs an aggressive copy edit that it apparently hasn't yet received - there are a few sentences that just do not make sense, some where you can tell the wording was changed without deleting the prior wording, and at least one hilarious reference to "Henry XVIII." I hope this is all fixed up in the final version.

If you have an interest in Anne Boleyn, I suggest looking at the Anne Boleyn Files online blog, and biting the bullet and reading Eric Ives, whose books on Anne are much better written and balanced. Or read a historical novel. This book tries to be a little of both, and manages to be neither.

Thanks to NetGalley for giving me an opportunity to read an advance galley of this book.

Was this review helpful?

I really liked how this book focused on Anne Boleyn. She was always my favorite of Henry VIII’s wives to learn about. I thought this book did her story justice. Not only did it focus on her life story, but also about what was going on around her at the time. This was not simply just a book about Anne, but also about the tumultuousness of Europe at the time. I thought the author’s writing style was good and natural. This was an easy but educational read that would appeal to a wide margin of readers. I would definitely recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

I want to thank Netgalley and the author for gifting me the ebook.
I never get tired of a good Tudor related bio. Especially when it is about Anne B. She is my favorite queen and even though I have read 100 books about her I just never get tired of reading about her. This was a masterfully written bio about her and I learned some new things about her and I would highly recommend this book to all Tudor history fans!

Was this review helpful?

If you want to learn more about Anne Boleyn and her rise to Queen, give this book a read. A lot of Anne's early time in France was unknown so I loved that this book spent so much time there rather than just jumping into here marriage with Henry. I'm giving this 4 stars because oftentimes it felt like we spent too much time with side characters, I appreciate the historical context but the first part of this book dragged on due to this.

Was this review helpful?

Anne Boleyn’s story starts in France as a maid of honor to Queen Claude of France. So little documented evidence remains of Anne that most of this early history is conjecture based on research of the other players. There is lots of detail regarding the ongoing issue to have Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII acknowledged with their issue being the rightful heirs. I agree with author’s conclusions about Anne Boleyn but I often felt the focus was not on Anne. I wish there was more historical record because Anne still fascinates.

Was this review helpful?

This. Was. Awesome.

I love it when historians dig down into the primary records (bypassing all the secondary sources of what “everybody knows”) and come back up with ‘Found something you all overlooked!’

For example, here Estelle Paranque looks at some itinerary documents and suddenly we see Anne traveled much further afield than previously thought when she was France – getting so far as Marseille and the shores of the Mediterranean. What?!?!

Next, Paranque makes a strong case for Anne’s “engagement” to James Butler was fake from beginning to end, merely the cover for a clean extraction to get Anne – an Englishwoman with years’ worth of observation of the French court now on the possible verge of war with England - out of France without raising any eyebrows. Anne was being treated as an agent and her father had confidence in her abilities both at home and abroad – far too much to “waste” her on a marriage that would sideline her in Ireland.

Paranque examines the life of Anne Boleyn through the lens of France – Anne’s time there, her education in French culture and politics, the French alliance she sought to maintain when back in England, and how France’s interaction with wider geo-political events had a direct impact on her life – and death.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this biography element in this book, it had the element of research that I was hoping for from Anne Boleyn. The overall feel worked and I enjoyed getting to learn about the real Anne Boleyn. Estelle Paranque wrote this perfectly and had everything that I was hoping for and enjoyed about the Tudor era biography.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley and Hachette books for sending me an ARC of this book for review.

I’ll be honest here, I deeply struggled with part 1 of this book. Though this may have been my fault requesting this book when I generally read fantasy/fiction but part one was very textbook. I got so lost with everyone’s name and locations. However in part 2 it started to pick up. It started reading more like a fun fiction novel but better than that because I was actually learning things. Overall this was enjoyable I just needed to adjust to the writing.

While I understand the background information on everyone and their relationships and connections is important and explain how Anne got to where she was (and then wasn’t), I still wish that it focused more around her. BUT I’m not super well versed on the topic so again this could be all that is known because this definitely had a lot of work put into it. Very well thought out. There’s a lot of moving parts with this and I started to take notes part way through. I feel smarter so I appreciate the opportunity!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley for the eARC. I read anything Tudor-related so this was a non-brainer for me but it was still SO interesting. I read like fiction and I was still surprised by the new things I learned. No spoilers, get your own copy. I know how it ends but I was still surprised when I got there. This is a must read for any Boleyn fan!

Was this review helpful?

Thorns, Lust, and Glory: The Betrayal of Anne Boleyn by Estelle Paranque is a fascinating book that delves further into the tragic end of the infamous Queen.

I have read quite a few nonfiction and fictional novels involving Anne Boleyn along with Tudor history. This book delves into some of the factors and players that helped influence Anne, those around her, and what culminated into the sad end of Henry VIII’s second Queen.

The author first starts with her life in France including some of her influences (external and internal) and then proceeds from there.

Yes, this book revolves around Anne, but for the reader to completely understand a lot of the steps that make up the sequence that lead to her demise, she had to include her surroundings: personal, political, and societal. She pulls from many sources, and has her work cut out for her, as I am sure it is more difficult to obtain history from the women and those that are conquered vs the conquerors.

I am impressed with the way that she was able to present all these factors in a nonfiction that reads, at times, like fiction, and flows well.

I truly enjoyed it.

4.5/5 stars

Thank you NG and Hachette Books for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 11/12/24.

Was this review helpful?

Estelle Paranque’s book Thorns, Lust, and Glory, the Betrayal of Anne Boleyn focuses on how the rise of Henry VIII’s most famous queen had a surprise set of players helping along; The French and their king, Francis I. Paranque begins with Anne’s youth abroad in Europe and the events she would have been apart of or witnessed even if history did not directly name her there.

Francis I first encounters the young Anne as she becomes a maid in waiting to his wife Claude. While there are no sources that show any direct interactions with the king, this is where Anne’s fondness for the French begins. Paranque weaves a story of how because of how the French in many ways assisted Anne to ascending to the crown she would take and sadly hold onto for just a few years.

My biggest concern with this book is that it didn’t feel like it was focused on Anne, more so on the political players of the day. If you are looking for a book that focuses strictly on the famous queen, you may want to look elsewhere. However, that said, I would recommend this to anyone interested in a Tudor history, politics as well as anyone looking for a different perspective on the meteoric rise of Anne Boleyn.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hachette Books for the Advanced Reader Copy!

Was this review helpful?

I love finding authors I never have read whom wrote subjects I'm obsessed with. Great book for those familiar or unfamiliar with Tudor history.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

This book taught me a lot about Anne Boleyn that I wasn't aware of before and, overall, I enjoyed it. Throughout the book, I felt very immersed in the time period and places the figures were in because of Estelle Paranque's descriptive and detailed writing. It's very apparent this book has been well researched through the amount of detail, quotes, and correspondence incorporated throughout the book.

I read Paranque's other book about Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I last year and enjoyed that one as well. My personal recommendation is to read this book first before Blood Fire & Gold because, chronologically, this book is set earlier and lays the foundation for the events that happen in Blood Fire & Gold. I think, if you read this book before her other book, it will enhance your enjoyment and understanding.

The only times I had been introduced to the story of Anne Boleyn was briefly in High School and through the musical, SIX. I loved how this book completely changed my perspective on Anne and expanded her beyond mistress and more into the image of a political figure and an influence on the affairs in Europe.

All that being said, I do have some criticisms of this book. These criticisms do not impact my view of the author as I can't imagine how hard it was to find credible sources to create this book already:

- I felt that the reader didn't get as close to Anne as they did to Elizabeth and Catherine in her previous book. I think that distance felt larger because of the lack of direct sources and quotes from her (like I said above, though, I understand that might not be possible to find). The gap between the reader and Anne felt larger when the reader was constantly reminded that Anne "was there" or "witnessed" and event. This caused the book to feel more centered around Henry, Francis, and Charles since we were mainly reading from the perspective of their ambassadors or the Kings themselves.

- Another thing is that I feel we didn't get a lot of information on the development or even the beginning of Henry and Anne's relationship. It felt like a bit of a time jump from being in the vicinity of one other to trying to get Henry divorced and all the politics happening there.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in History but also someone who is curious about trying to get into more historical non-fiction. I am looking forward to seeing what this author will be writing about next!

This review will be posted on my Goodreads. Link below.

Was this review helpful?

An interesting retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn with more engagement on the French view of Henry VIII’s Great Matter than most nonfiction writers usually have. A great read for anyone who likes the Tudors History..

Was this review helpful?

This is a must read for all Anne Boleyn fans.

I’ve read many biographies in Anne Boleyn, including Eric Ives The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. This is a great addition and I’d say a great companion to Ives.
Estelle Paranque paints a vivid picture, and there is a lot of information throughout. The writing doesn’t feel academic at all, but the information is presented in a professional and organized manner. The Author adds a much needed feminine lens to Anne Boleyns biography, without making the reader feel like she’s purposefully inserting a pro Boleyn bias, which doesn’t rear its head. Paranque puts Anne on display, flaws and all.

At times, I felt like I was there with Anne. The writing is that immersive. It’s loaded with facts, but not the standard textbook style that will make you fall asleep at your desk. Anne was once a person; complex and oftentimes her circumstances were out of her control. Which allows the reader to sit and think about how she must have felt going from modest lady in waiting, to Queen. There is tension, and towards the end, I think even Anne’s harsher critics would have difficulty not feeling for the ill fated second wife of Henry VIII.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you @hachettebooks and @netgalley for the eARC of Thorns, Lust, and Glory: The Betrayal of Anne Boleyn by Estelle Paranque in exchange for an honest review.

📖📖 Book Review 📖📖 Two years ago, I told my daughter I would buy her tickets to see Six the Musical if she did a report on the wives on Henry VIII. Five months later, we stayed the night at Anne Boelyn’s childhood home, Hever Castle, and did a fun deep dive into Tudor history around London. Anne Boelyn is a fascinating figure in history who is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Estelle Paranque set out to write a relatable account of Anne Boelyn’s life and she certainly achieved this goal, writing a beautiful and captivating book that provides a new opportunity to get to know Henry’s second wife. While this book is indeed a biography, it reads as a novel that invites the reader to enjoy her history in a truly immersive storytelling experience. Even those who are familiar with Anne Boleyn and her fascinating life will learn a plethora of new information from this masterfully written biography.

Review is posted on Goodreads and will be on instagram ahead of the publication date!

Was this review helpful?