[Review] The Anne Boleyn Papers by Elizabeth Norton

Title: The Anne Boleyn Papers
Author: Elizabeth Norton
Publisher: Amberley 2 October 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, British History, Tudor History, Anne Boleyn, Eustace Chapuys, Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor.
Theme: The story of Anne Boleyn and her moment as Henry VIII's second wife, told through letters, memoirs, poems.
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 384
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from Amberley Publishing for the purpose of review.

Anne Boleyn became Henry's second wife during a tumultuous period of Henry VIII's reign. After many years of marriage to Catherine of Aragon, one child lived to adulthood, the princess Mary. Henry knew he was capable of fathering a son, his mistress Bessie Blount had delivered a healthy son. Henry was desperate to have a son as his heir. His obsession to bed Anne Boleyn---which led to her insisting they marry---which meant he had to divorce Catherine and divorce was not legal under Roman Catholicism. All of this was high drama in the royal court. This was also a domino affect in Henry's family dynamics. Princess Mary Tudor was an heir and in favor, she was out of favor and a bastard; Catherine of Aragon was queen, then she was not queen but cast aside; Anne Boleyn was Henry's muse and obsession, then he was bored and angered with her, so off to the Tower she went.

Elizabeth Norton, in the introduction states that "it would be impossible to include all the surviving information in one volume". Norton, with precise fashion has arranged a wonderful account of Anne's life through its collection of papers. Beginning with a short biography of Anne Boleyn, then the following chapters give an accurate historical record of Anne, Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor, and others.
I've read several books on Anne Boleyn. This is the first book I've read that in its entirety is an account of her life through letters, memoirs, poems. Most of the documents are written by historical "contemporaries" of her period, those who knew her personally and many who hated her with vengeance. Reading what eyewitnesses stated about her, even if some of them were a bit slanted to one side; reading what Anne wrote in letters to Henry or a friend; I feel this book breathed a life into Anne that I'd not felt before in other accounts of her life. I feel at ease with a book that shows me the "real" Anne, not a fictional account, but her very presence.
My favorite account of Anne Boleyn was written (interesting enough) by her enemy, Eustace Chapuys. He hated her, yet his account of Anne is detailed and fascinating.

Elizabeth Norton website: http://www.elizabethnorton.co.uk/
Author Page @ Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elizabeth-Norton/e/B002666IA2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethnortonhistorian