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This was such a pleasure to write. I had long admired Anna of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife – latterly known as The Flanders Mare – and wanted her own voice to tell the story of her disastrous marriage to the English King and how she survived it – with a settlement that would not disgrace Ivana Trump. She was a canny lass, Anna, remarkably good at appearing docile, not very bright and, well, Amenable. I set the story within a contemporary framework of a woman, Flora, newly widowed from a dashing, infuriating, star of a husband – one who overshadowed her throughout her married life – and who, in her newfound widowhood, sets out to discover the history of her village. Flora finds that Anna of Cleves held property there, part of her divorce settlement, and travels to Paris, to the Louvre, to see for herself the portrait of Anna by Hans Holbein that Henry fell in love with. With some rather interesting developments…
Alison Weir was kind enough to say that if you wanted to know the true story of Anne of Cleves, you should read this book.
Flora Chapman is in her fifties when her husband dies in a bizarre ballooning accident. Seizing upon her new found freedom, she decides to finish the history of their village that Edward had begun. A reference to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife who he rejected for being ugly, captures her imagination as she begins to delve deeper into the life of this neglected figure. Meanwhile, in the Louvre, Holbein’s portrait of Anne of Cleves senses the tug of a connection and she begins to tell the story of the injustices she suffered and just how she survived her marriage . . .