Anne Somerset’s Queen Anne is a comprehensive biography of one of England’s most overlooked monarchs. Queen Anne ruled from 1702 until her death in 1714 and was the last Stuart monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland. This book aims to shed light on the life of Queen Anne, her reign, and the events leading up to her ascension to the throne. In this review, I will discuss the main themes of the book and provide my thoughts on the author’s writing style and research.
- Politics and Religion: One of the main themes of Queen Anne is the politics and religious turmoil of the time. Anne Somerset effectively captures the religious tensions and political machinations of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, including the War of the Spanish Succession and the Act of Union between England and Scotland. Somerset also provides an in-depth look at the political factions and power struggles of the time, highlighting Anne’s political acumen and the difficulties she faced as a woman in a male-dominated political sphere.
- Family and Relationships: Another central theme of the book is the importance of family and relationships in Anne’s life. Somerset provides an intimate portrait of Anne’s relationships with her husband, Prince George of Denmark, and her close friend, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. These relationships were central to Anne’s personal and political life, and Somerset does an excellent job of exploring their complexities.
- Health and Physicality: A unique aspect of this biography is the emphasis on Anne’s health and physicality. Anne suffered from numerous health problems, including gout and obesity, which impacted her life and reign. Somerset provides a nuanced examination of the impact of Anne’s health on her political and personal life, as well as the medical treatments available to her at the time.
Anne Somerset’s writing style is engaging and accessible. She has a gift for storytelling and brings the characters and events of the time to life. The book is meticulously researched, and Somerset uses a variety of sources to create a well-rounded picture of Anne’s life and reign. She also effectively incorporates primary sources, including letters and diaries, to provide a glimpse into Anne’s personal life and relationships.
However, at times the book can be dense and overly detailed, particularly in the earlier chapters. Somerset provides a lot of background information, which can be overwhelming for readers unfamiliar with the time period. Additionally, the book is quite long, clocking in at over 800 pages, which may be daunting for some readers.
Overall, Anne Somerset’s Queen Anne is a well-researched and engaging biography of a fascinating monarch. Somerset effectively captures the political and religious turmoil of the time and provides an intimate look at Anne’s personal and political life. While the book can be dense and overly detailed at times, Somerset’s writing style makes it an accessible read for anyone interested in British history or the lives of monarchs. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a comprehensive and insightful biography of Queen Anne.