Customer Reviews for

The Last Boleyn

Average Rating 4.5
( 51 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

FABULOUS READ!

I have been reading a lot of books by Karen Harper recently and I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying each and every one. What a gifted author she is! "The Last Boleyn" was originally titled "Passion's Reign" and I am not at all sure that I would have chosen to read it...
I have been reading a lot of books by Karen Harper recently and I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying each and every one. What a gifted author she is! "The Last Boleyn" was originally titled "Passion's Reign" and I am not at all sure that I would have chosen to read it with that title. I have that ingrained aversion to lusty title's that shelving Harlequin novels in a book store left me with !

"The Last Boleyn" is the tale of Mary Tudor - five years a mistress to Henry VIII before Anne; faithful wife and mother after Henry. Although I had perhaps heard this before I had not registered the fact that the family name had, in fact, been 'Bullen' prior to Anne's Franophile-ization of her family name to the more readily familiar 'Boleyn'. Mary Bullen inherited her mother's more delicate blonde coloring - heritage of her lofty Howard lineage. I have always been of the impression that 'father' Boleyn was a power hungry, ladder climbing syncophant in the court of Henry VIII....a man who would pander his female children to his best advantage. Nothing I have read over the years has really change that opinion - even taking the vagaries of that time period into account.

Mary was sent to the French court at an early age - as lady-in-waiting to Henry's sister Mary during her short lived marriage to the aging French King. Upon the King's death Mary remains at the French Court attendant upon Mary and beguiled by the new French King Francois I. Anne Boleyn joins Mary at the French court for a time until Mary returns to England as a teenager - and becomes an integral part of the Court of Henry VIII. The book chronicles Mary's marriage to the cold, calculating William Carey - a husband who accepts the King's advances towards Mary as a way to accrue fame and fortune for himself. During her marriage to William Carey Mary has son and, although she always claimed that he was William Carey's son - there has always been speculation that her son was, in fact, the progeny of Henry VIII .Mary is, ultimately, drawn to the jaded courtier William Stafford - a man whom she will ultimately marry in secret after the death of William Carey.

The odd thing about Mary Boleyn's story is that she was always derided by her family for not asking Henry for more - for not expecting more from him as his mistress. Anne was the rapacious sister . Oddly enough though it is Mary, and not Anne, who ultimately lives to a goodly age and retires from Courtlife with both her head and her happiness intact - thank largely, I am led to believe thanks to the love of Will Staford.

In contrast, this novel with that of Phillipa Gregory's book "The Other Boleyn Girl" - which is also narrated from Mary's point of view. I enjoyed both of these book tremendously, but I think that in some ways I prefer Karen Harper's work. I think that Ms. Harper follows the history very closely and she also managed to keep me turning the pages of this book late into the night. Best bet - read both books because I think that the story of Mary Boleyn is truly a very good one !

posted by ZQuilts on February 23, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

So bad I returned it

I adore the Tudors, and have read just about every biography and historical novel about them that I can get my hands on. I was really excited when I picked this novel up recently, but after the first 50 pages I did something that I almost NEVER do. I not only didn't f...
I adore the Tudors, and have read just about every biography and historical novel about them that I can get my hands on. I was really excited when I picked this novel up recently, but after the first 50 pages I did something that I almost NEVER do. I not only didn't finish this book, but I actually returned it. It was that wretched. The historical details were either lacking or incorrect. For example, Chantilly lace dates to the 17th century, not the early 16th century. The dialog was similarly aweful. In one scene Charles Bradon calls Mary by her full name four or five times, even though there are only three people in the room. The author can't even keep her own facts straight, referring to Mary as being only a skinny ten year old, and a few pages later talking about her newly developed female curves. My recommendation, avoid this book. There are better stories out there about the Tudors.

posted by Anonymous on May 17, 2008

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    FABULOUS READ!

    I have been reading a lot of books by Karen Harper recently and I have to admit to thoroughly enjoying each and every one. What a gifted author she is! "The Last Boleyn" was originally titled "Passion's Reign" and I am not at all sure that I would have chosen to read it with that title. I have that ingrained aversion to lusty title's that shelving Harlequin novels in a book store left me with !

    "The Last Boleyn" is the tale of Mary Tudor - five years a mistress to Henry VIII before Anne; faithful wife and mother after Henry. Although I had perhaps heard this before I had not registered the fact that the family name had, in fact, been 'Bullen' prior to Anne's Franophile-ization of her family name to the more readily familiar 'Boleyn'. Mary Bullen inherited her mother's more delicate blonde coloring - heritage of her lofty Howard lineage. I have always been of the impression that 'father' Boleyn was a power hungry, ladder climbing syncophant in the court of Henry VIII....a man who would pander his female children to his best advantage. Nothing I have read over the years has really change that opinion - even taking the vagaries of that time period into account.

    Mary was sent to the French court at an early age - as lady-in-waiting to Henry's sister Mary during her short lived marriage to the aging French King. Upon the King's death Mary remains at the French Court attendant upon Mary and beguiled by the new French King Francois I. Anne Boleyn joins Mary at the French court for a time until Mary returns to England as a teenager - and becomes an integral part of the Court of Henry VIII. The book chronicles Mary's marriage to the cold, calculating William Carey - a husband who accepts the King's advances towards Mary as a way to accrue fame and fortune for himself. During her marriage to William Carey Mary has son and, although she always claimed that he was William Carey's son - there has always been speculation that her son was, in fact, the progeny of Henry VIII .Mary is, ultimately, drawn to the jaded courtier William Stafford - a man whom she will ultimately marry in secret after the death of William Carey.

    The odd thing about Mary Boleyn's story is that she was always derided by her family for not asking Henry for more - for not expecting more from him as his mistress. Anne was the rapacious sister . Oddly enough though it is Mary, and not Anne, who ultimately lives to a goodly age and retires from Courtlife with both her head and her happiness intact - thank largely, I am led to believe thanks to the love of Will Staford.

    In contrast, this novel with that of Phillipa Gregory's book "The Other Boleyn Girl" - which is also narrated from Mary's point of view. I enjoyed both of these book tremendously, but I think that in some ways I prefer Karen Harper's work. I think that Ms. Harper follows the history very closely and she also managed to keep me turning the pages of this book late into the night. Best bet - read both books because I think that the story of Mary Boleyn is truly a very good one !

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    100 Times better than "The Other Bolyen Girl"

    I had this book recommended to me by someone after they heard my fustrations on how historically accurate "The Other Bolyen Girl" is not. I picked up this book and could not put it down. Yes there is not a lot known about Mary Bolyen but the author used what is known to create a captivating book truely from Mary's point of view. I am happy that the author was more true to the history, which made the book that more enjoyable for me becuase I did not have to turn off my historical brain to read the book. I highly recommend this book.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    So bad I returned it

    I adore the Tudors, and have read just about every biography and historical novel about them that I can get my hands on. I was really excited when I picked this novel up recently, but after the first 50 pages I did something that I almost NEVER do. I not only didn't finish this book, but I actually returned it. It was that wretched. The historical details were either lacking or incorrect. For example, Chantilly lace dates to the 17th century, not the early 16th century. The dialog was similarly aweful. In one scene Charles Bradon calls Mary by her full name four or five times, even though there are only three people in the room. The author can't even keep her own facts straight, referring to Mary as being only a skinny ten year old, and a few pages later talking about her newly developed female curves. My recommendation, avoid this book. There are better stories out there about the Tudors.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2007

    AMAZING

    I am so sorry that this particular take on the Boleyns wasn't chosen to make a movie of instead of Philippa Gregory's atrocious 'The Other Boleyn Girl', the sorriest waste of historical fiction I've ever read. This is an amazing book. The history is pretty accurate and the courtiers' world is described in breathtaking detail without tailspinning into ridiculous gossip-slinging. Great writing, great story, great detail, great characters, great everything. the entire Tudor universe simply comes to life in this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2007

    As usual, silly dialogue

    As usual from this author: An interesting story, but the silliest dialogue I've seen since I outgrew teenage romances 40 years ago. Learned my lesson from this and The First Princess of Wales (whiich I bought at the same time) and won't be buying anything from this author in future.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    If you are interested in The Boleyns, then you should enjoy this book

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It helps to know some history otherwise parts might be hard to follow (example the use of Boleyn/Bullen...Mary/Marie). From what I have read this book was more factual than Philippa Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl" which is why I purchased it. From what I have studied, this seems to be true. If you are interested in The Boleyns, then you should enjoy this book. Karen's current release "The Queen's Governess" was excellent!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

    I enjoyed reading this tale of Henry's mistress. The story read

    I enjoyed reading this tale of Henry's mistress. The story read smoothly and kept me captivated. It was interesting to read about Mary's life before, during, and after Henry. I especially enjoyed her vision of her sister, Anne. I enjoyed this story much more than Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl." That book I did not even finish!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2012

    This book is well written, but somtimes gets bogged down with mi

    This book is well written, but somtimes gets bogged down with minute details that I am not interested in. I loved the story of Mary Bolyn, first mistress to the king and the wife of a man of her own choosing. She escaped the fate of her sister Anne because she listened well to her father. In the book, the king feels loving toward Mary and tells her to leave court for her own good. I found this quite touching. I agree this is a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable for the most part :)

    To me, this was the cutest story ever about Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary. It was cute because of the little love story involving Stafford. I LOVED this novel so much, I read it three times (yes, I read too much)...The "ups" about the book was almost everything, but I have to admit that there were some "downs" as well. Mary seemed too submissive and reserved which is the reason why the family thought the ambition-thirsty Anne was more clever even though Mary was since Anne's ambition led to her demise. But finally,very far into the book, she begins to emerge from that submissiveness. The other "down" was how the author portrayed Mary's first husband. But then again, authors portray the Boleyn characters differently in each novel. I think Karen Harper portrayed Mary the best when comparing other novels that wrote about the Boleyns (The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory...I love her books, but The Other Boleyn Girl wasn't, in my opinion, her best. She portrayed Mary--also in my opinion--as a girl who is pretty much lovesick or should I say, has Romeo and Juliet syndrome and I certainly do not like that play from Shakespeare--his other ones were way better). Well, anyhow, It's a very good book and I enjoyed it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This book was better than I expected

    This book was better than I expected. It caught my attention from page one and kept it till the very end. I love anything dealing with the Boleyn's. They are a very interesting family. I like how this was centered around Mary Boleyn. She was someone I did not know about until I read this. It caused me to want to know more and more about her. I really recommend this book to anyone who really loves this subject. It will open your eyes into her world. You get to see something from another point of view. It is really a great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Another great Tudor story

    Great book for all Tudor fans.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hmmm....

    I read one of the reviews about this book that said that everything in this book was fiction. That is completely untrue:
    Mary Boleyn was the eldest daughter of Thomas Boleyn and his wife.
    She was married to William Carey, and later to William Stafford. She had both a son and a daughter, named Henry and Catherine. It is possible that both were the children of Mary and the King, but he never acknowledged either of them. She later had a child with William Stafford, though if it was a boy or girl, is unknown. Will Carey was an Esquire to the King, as was William Stafford later.
    Little has been recorded about Mary's life, seeing as how she was simply a mistress, not queen like her sister Anne, but what is in this book is based off of what little fact is known about her. While the conversations and outfits and minor details like those are more than likely fictional, the underlying historical story is true.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    It was 'ok'

    The book was just ok for me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2008

    Sorry, just clarifying...

    Someone here was stating about how this story is purely fictional, which is not true. There is truth behind much of it. Yes, very little is known about poor Mary, but there is actual evidence about her. There's also evidence that she is actually said to be the oldest of the three Boleyn children. So please, if you're going to criticize something, know your facts before you do so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    Great read

    I am not a historian or someone who did a lot of research on the Boleyns so I dont know how historically accurate this is. However I absolutely loved this story and I hope many parts are true. I couldnt put the book down, loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    Pure Fiction Through and Through

    This is a STORY. Albeit a good one, it is still a work of FICTION. There is little to nothing known of Mary Boleyn, and almost NOTHING documented with regards to her affairs, her marriages, her loves or her children. I would also like to point out, that what has been documented is that Mary gave birth to a DAUGHTER, who was believed to be the bastard child of Henry VIII. It was not a son. So, say that it was a great novel with much imagination, but do not tout it as being a work of actuality, because again, there is little to nothing known about the youngest daughter (for she was younger by one year to Anne) of Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn, other than she frequented the bed of King Francis of France for a few years and the bed of Henry VIII for several years afterwards.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2008

    Fascinating

    I picked this book up on a Friday night and read all six hundred some off pages of it over the weekend. I could not put it down. The author ends every chapter in suspense. I am a huge history buff but never had much interest in the Middle Age Era until now!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2007

    Amazing!!

    I loved this book. It is a wonderful book about Mary Boleyn. It depicts all of her feelings wonderfully. While reading it, i felt her feelings. A book that let's you do that is truly, amazing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    One Word...Amazing!

    I have always been slightly obsessed with the world of courtiers but had never really seen much writing on Mary Boleyn. Her story is one that should be shouted from rooftops and held in as high esteem as her sister's. Great heroine, great love story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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