• Anna of Kleve, the Princess in the Portrait

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Rosalyn Landor
  • Length: 18 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (625 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The surprising and dramatic life of the least known of King Henry VIII's wives is illuminated in the fourth volume in the Six Tudor Queens series - for fans of Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel, and The Crown

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to ensure the royal succession. Forty-six, overweight, and suffering from gout, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe's most eligible princesses. Anna of Kleve, from a small German duchy, is 24 and has a secret she is desperate to keep hidden. Henry requests her portrait from his court painter, who portrays her from the most flattering perspective. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. Some think her attractive, but Henry knows he can never love her. What follows is the fascinating story of an awkward royal union that had somehow to be terminated. 

Even as Henry begins to warm to his new wife and share her bed, his attention is captivated by one of her maids of honor. Will he accuse Anna of adultery as he did Queen Anne Boleyn and send her to the scaffold? Or will he divorce her and send her home in disgrace? 

Alison Weir takes a fresh and astonishing look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone and fearing for her life in a royal court that rejected her almost from the day she set foot on England's shore.

©2019 Alison Weir (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Anna of Kleve, the Princess in the Portrait

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Rosalyn Landor makes it worthwhile!

This is just good fun, with a smattering of history and a lot of fun drama that fills in the blanks. There's not a lot of known facts about Anna's early life, nor her private moments with the king, so there has to be invention and speculation on the author's part. But the author's note at the end gives the reader an idea of what is likely to be more factual.

Were it not for being a story of a real person, and based on history, I don't think this would hold up as a good read. But given that Anna of Kleve was one of Henry VIII's wives, it is interesting and entertaining, as well.

Rosalyn Landor is, in my opinion, the best female Audible reader. She is the only female reader who can do a satisfactory man's voice, and she has an amazing talent for making all the voices, male and female, distinctive and different. I wish she could read more of Audible's books. A very talented reader, and I greatly appreciate what she adds to everything she reads.

12 people found this helpful

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Best of the Series so far

This all too rare in depth at Anna of Kleve is all the more fascinating specifically because it is so rare. The wife of Henry VIII most focus on is Anne Boleyn, and for good reason. But Anna getting such a thorough examination and fictional expansion was refreshing over all.

My only criticism would be the beginning of the story when Anna abruptly had sex with her cousin who she just met. I don't mind the fictional expansion of her having a premarital relationship that resulted in a baby. But there was no build up which made it impossible for me to believe in their love. That said, premarital pregnancy would explain Henry's comments about her.

Overall, this book was better than the previous ones. Weir breathed fresh life into Anna and presented an in-depth and unique look into Tudor England. The story also wasn't weighed down by the author's bias against Anne Boleyn.

12 people found this helpful

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A Fictional Perspective on Anne of Cleves

Alison Weir writes popular nonfiction history and specializes in the Tudor period. I've read a number of her books and have been enjoying her recent series of novels on the wives of Henry VIII. Anne of Cleves, the 4th wife, is generally considered the least interesting of this unfortunate group of women. Hers was a purely political marriage to a king who needed an alliance as well as another son to safeguard the Tudor dynasty. He agreed to marry Anna after seeing her portrait. Anna herself, of course, had no choice in the matter.

The marriage did not succeed, but unlike her tragic predecessors, Anna was able to escape her union healthy and quite wealthy in the bargain. She maintained a friendly relationship with Henry and formed an association with his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. The novel is Weir's imaginative account of how this came to be. It is based on the historical records as far they will take us, but from there the author makes assumptions that cannot be proven or known. She explains this in her Epilogue, making clear what is historical fact and where she has taken license to weave a plausible story of Anna's life. Fair enough...

I enjoyed this novel, but it seemed more fiction and less fact than the author's accounts of Henry's previous queens. Having previously read several biographies of these women, including Weir's, I have been pleased with this series of novels. Fiction adds an emotional element that allows readers a closer connection to the history itself. The fictional Anna is far more human than the distant woman of known history. Is this portrayal authentic? Probably not, but I have confidence that Weir's account remained based on what is actually known; where she used her imagination it was guided by a deep familiarity with the subject and the culture Anna inhabited.

There are two more of Henry's wives remaining in this series. I look forward to them.

9 people found this helpful

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Weakest of Alison Weir

Normally, I love Alison Weir's books. However, I wasn't crazy about this story or the way it was written. Hoping for a better one next time.

9 people found this helpful

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Wonderfully read by Rosalyn Landor ❤️

Love history stories read this way! Wonderfully written by Alison Weir and having Rosalyn Landor bring this story to life with her soothing voice and animating each character breathlessly.

8 people found this helpful

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Could not stop listening...

I had forgotten the story of Henry's wives so this kept me on tenterhooks wondering how it would end. Great book. Loved every minute of it. Great reader too.

7 people found this helpful

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What is up with this series?

This was the third book in this series I could not get through. I'm a huge Tudor fiction fan and loved Alison Weir's earlier novels, but this series sounds like it was written for young adults. This story is cloying, a little condescending to the reader's intelligence and in some places, strays very far away from what we actually know about Anne f Clever. A big disappointment.

6 people found this helpful

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Usually love the author’s works....

I couldn’t finish this one. Tried several times. I don’t know if there is any true historical basis for Anne’s lover and their son, but it wasn’t engaging enough for me to finish the book. Anne’s story is well known enough by Tudor enthusiasts such as myself, but I anticipated getting to know her better nonetheless and ended up bored and disappointed. Ms. Landor did a good job with the narration, which she always does, and it’s possible that is what carried me as far as I got. Not a bad story, but the reader should be aware it might not be what one expects.

5 people found this helpful

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  • 06-06-19

Kind of drags on at the end

I was surprised that I liked this as much as I did. Jane and Anna have always been of little interest to me. This book was more interesting than Jane's. though 3/4 in it got pretty boring. Anna's problems just drag on and on. But at least she wanted to marry the king. Selfish wife killer or not if a guy gets three wives that go into the relationship with the thought "Well the king likes me....guess we're doing this" you have to feel bad for the guy

5 people found this helpful

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really liked

this was very engaging. I found myself googling facts and increasing my knowledge base. would recommend

4 people found this helpful