When looking through my pile of books to read, I chose this book as it follows "The other Boleyn girl", which I read (and reviewed) a couple of months ago. I had originally bought it as I like historical novels, and Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite authors in this genre.
This novel follows the story of Henry the eighth's fourth and fifth wives, the court has become a more dangerous place since the death of Anne Boleyn, and King Henry has become something of a tyrant. At the start of the book Jane Seymour has recently died after giving birth to Prince Edward, and for reasons of state and the need for another son Henry is once again looking for a wife. For political reasons he marries Anne of Cleves, but soon he changes his mind and falls for her young maid in waiting Katherine Howard.
This book is slightly different to "The Other Boleyn" in that it is told from the point of view of three women, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn (Anne Boleyne's sister in law). The book starts with the three of them in their respective homes, and then follows their progress to the king's court, and what happens during and after their time there.
I liked this book, although if I'm honest I found it more interesting than enjoyable. Whilst I knew the basic facts of the two queens, I hadn't really thought about how brief their marriages were, I also had never realised how young Kathryn Howard was, just 15 when she went to the court as the new Queen Anne's maid in waiting. The book shows how both women are pawns of their families, and the king's will. The third character Jane Boleyn also appears in "The Other Boleyn Girl", as she gave evidence against her husband and Anne Boleyn. In this book I found her quite a machiavellian character, who has befriended each of Henry's queens so that she can spy on them and help further the powerful Howard families' interests.
I found the novel interesting as Philippa Gregory managed to portray each of the women, in a way that showed they had little choice in what they did, and were just doing the best they could in the circumstances. The main parts of the novel are based on fact, although the way the women thought about what they did, and the friendship between Anne and Katherine is of course fiction. I think that like all historical fiction, there is a mixture of the truth with fiction, and I found this to be enjoyable. I didn't find this novel as enjoyable as some of the others written by Philippa Gregory, as whilst even the character of Jane Boleyn is sympathetically done, I found the subject matter quite uncomfortable as Philippa Gregory portrayed them living on egg shells for much of the time.
At the end of the novel there is a useful list of Philippa Gregory's sources, with a description of why she chose some of the plot twists that she did.
In conclusion four stars for a book that's good, but isn't one I'd rush to read again.
The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel written by Philippa Gregory and is part of her Tudor Court Series. The story is set after Queen Jane Seymour's death and follows through Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn's execution. There is a lot of information about Henry VIII and his first two wives, but little is known about Anne Of Cleves and Katherine Howard. The story is written in first person and each chapter focuses on a different character and usually switches between Katherine, Anne and Jane.
In one way it's an inspirational story and in another way it is quite tragic and heartbreaking. The portrayal of Anne Of Cleves is one that I find really inspiring. She turns into a German princess trapped under her family's boundaries and a loveless marriage between Henry and then eventually earning the freedom she really deserved. It might not be an exact reflection upon the real Anne Of Cleves, but this novel really does make me want to find out more about the real Anne Of Cleves.
From what I've seen about Katherine Howard, it would be fair to say that she was a young girl who didn't understand the consequences of her actions and that she was also surrounded with so much cruelty that she was blind to. I do feel sorry for her and welt like crying when it came to her execution. I think it's a shame that such a young and lively girl had to have her life so short. I think she was born in the wrong century.
Then there is the greed of Jane Boleyn, Katherine's cousin-in-law. I think Jane was hoping that the death of her husband, George and his sister Anne would help give her wealth and a happily ever after. The Boleyn inheritance doesn't help give me any sympathy for Jane but it did help proceed the story as she eventually tells us what the real Boleyn inheritance is.
One thing that really bugged me about the story is how Henry is shown as a prize to be won. After what happened to Catherine Of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour & Anne Of Cleves, and not to mention his declining health, I think prize would be the last thing to describe Henry. There's a lot of words that I would use to describe Henry, but prize isn't one of them. And if everything id gender swapped, then it would be in lots trouble by feminists.
If you knew your history already, you would already know that it's Anne Of Cleves who is the winner as she missed execution by just the skin of her teeth. This novel does paint a really bad picture of Thomas Howard, the uncle of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard as they are considered pawns for the duke's thirst for power.
I couldn't put the book down when I first read it because I really liked the way it was laid out because once each chapter was over, it made me wonder what would happen to each lady next. There's always two sides to every story, but in this case of the Boleyn Inheritance there are 3 sides. I would read it again and it is my favourite book from Gregory so far.
The author's notes are quite interesting too. It seems she also shares my belief that Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn) faked her own madness to avoid the scaffold but ended up losing her head anyway. I wouldn't go as far as saying that Jane got everything she deserved, but it was certainly karma for contributing towards Anne and George Boleyn's downfall. And there is also a bibliography done in Harvard style in case you wanted to check out any of the history books the author has used.
This isn't the first book by Phillipa Gregory that I've read, and from previous experience of her I've been very impressed with her style of writing. The last one I read I found gave a unique view on the period of history being covered whilst weaving an engaging story line through it, so when I saw this one in a charity shop for £1.50 I couldn't resist. And I have to say I was horribly disappointed. I had deliberately stayed with her historical novels because the previous ones I'd read were so good, but instead that although it was definitely historical, it was a matter of debate whether it could be called good...or perhaps even a novel.
The plot is based around Henry VIII and runs from 1539 to the year of his death. So the main story starts with him taking Anne of Cleves as his wife and runs through him ditching her for Katherine Howard and then executing her for her affairs and moving onto Katherine Parr. This is actually probably the largest problem the novel has. This is a story that we have all been taught since we were knee high to a grasshopper, we have learned it off by heard since the year dot. I mean who doesn't know the rhyme; 'Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived'!? I could probably recite it to my foster sisters and they'd probably recognise it; and they're three for cripes sake. We all know the story, we all know the history and we know who lives and who dies. There can be no surprises or shocks in this story, particularly as it focuses directly on Henry's relations with his wives. Because of this it would need some particularly spectacular narrative telling to make this work well, and that just doesn't materialise.
This problem could have been nullified if the topic had been approached in a completely unique way, or if the characters were fantastic or if different aspects were looked at to normal. And to be fair, Phillipa Gregory has tried. It's just that it is difficult to come up with a unique view on this particular segment of history and although her view on the characters is unusual and interesting it just doesn't quite cut it.
This book is told from the first person perspective of the three main players: Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn. Henry is only spoken of in a third person point of view from the perspective of the three women. This is, to be fair, probably a very sensible move on Phillipa Gregory's part as it means she can give far more of an air of terror to Henry's reign and behaviour. I understand that we all know these characters as historical figures and we probably know a lot about their actions, but as Phillipa Gregory has tried to make the novel out of the characters she has tried to put a unique spin on them.
To a point she has managed. Anne of Cleves is usually described as being ugly and I know that I was certainly taught in Year 5 that the reason for Henry rejecting her in the beginning of the relationship was because she didn't live up to her picture. Phillipa Gregory on the other hand portrays her as a naïve, pretty young woman who was miserably out of her depth in the more liberal England. It was completely outside the sphere of her realm of experience. She portrays the first meeting of Anne and the king at Rochester as the reason for Henry's hatred of her, as when Henry first met her he was dressed in rags and pretending to be a commoner. She had no way of recognising the drunk, ugly and ill old man as the kind in 'disguise'; even the pictures she'd had of him were from when he was a young man in the prime of his life. So she rejected him first, she spat out his kiss and therein lies the reason that he can never forgive her. Phillipa Gregory also goes further into her background and childhood than most of us are aware and so to a point she can make a new story out of it.
Katherine Howard, or Kitty, is seen as a victim. A young girl no more than sixteen, whose only crime was loving a boy her own age and not a man old enough to be her father who is rotting from the leg upwards. Like Anne of Cleves she was disastrously out of depth in a court of manipulative and sophisticated older people. Like any sixteen year old she is self obsessed and she has no real view of her own mortality. But most sixteen year olds can get away with this behaviour, for most it has no real effect other than a couple of rather embarrassing memories that they can still remember in their forties but really wish they couldn't. But for her this has disastrous consequences and Phillipa Gregory certainly did succeed in arousing my pity for the girl. Well, by the end of the book anyway when she'd stopped irritating the living daylights out of me.
And Henry is very much seen as a charming young prince turned tyrant. This is not a new portrayal and is certainly an accurate one by the evidence, but Phillipa Gregory does show that she has no interest in pulling her punches:
"This is the man they call a great king, the greatest king we have ever had in England. Does it not teach us that we should have no king? That a people should be free? That a tyrant is still a tyrant when he has a handsome face under a crown?"
Originally this irritated me because it was slow. The process of flipping so often between different characters was just plain irritating because in the early stages of the book it just seemed to go nowhere. This was by the way made so much worse by Kitty Howard's character in the early book it is untrue. Her teenage inanities made the entire sections unbelievably dull. I understand that this is always a risk with the adult looking into the teenage psyche due to the sheer amount of floss that they carry around involving boys, clothes and emotional baggage that they haven't learned to control (not that I can talk about that even now!). But even so, there is only so many times I can read about her wanting to throw herself in the Thames and do herself in because of some inane reason or another usually involving boys, sex and clothes...and how she'll never be a princess. I actually wanted to hit her because she was just winding me up with the whining and complaining about how bad she's got it. Later in the story then I might have been more understanding, but I hit my tolerance level very early on and became very willing to throw her in the Thames myself if only to shut her the hell up. Or possibly throw myself in the Thames in a desperate last bid to get the irritation to go away.
It did however improve; it started to move more quickly and the stupidness of Kitty Howard seemed to come down to a more manageable level. As soon as the book actually gets into its stride her style does work, particularly as the plot is moving at enough of a pace to allow her habit of continuously switching from one character to another to work.
This was a disappointment. Now I am not saying that this was an awful book, or even a bad book, because it wasn't. It just wasn't up to standard that I have come to expect from her due to my experience of her previous books. Personally I feel that she set the bar far too high in attempting to write something new about such a well known period of history because it just doesn't work. Her ability to stick to history is to be applauded, but she doesn't carry this off with enough wit or flair for it to work. All the way through I felt that I knew what was going to happen and I was wondering why on earth I continued reading because it just wasn't a gripping enough story.
In addition to this I didn't actually attach myself to any of the characters. Granted in the later sections of the novel I did feel sorry for Kitty Howard, but for the majority of it I felt nothing but the desire to murder her myself and therefore save the king an awful lot of hassle later. Considering the set of circumstances I find this strange as usually I will get engrossed in a book to the point where I will cry with the characters, but at no point in this did I find that. Instead I felt oddly detached and it seemed like a struggle to get through. Anne is the only character who you really feel for because she is so out of her depth and so desperate to make things work, but because she is so desperate to be the perfect queen this makes her a rather cold and dry character.
Phillipa Gregory does stick remarkably well to historical fact, but in this novel it actually undermines what she is trying to do. She would have been better off creating an entirely fictional novel, perhaps loosely based on history, because in confining herself to the history she seems to have restricted herself too much. On the other hand based on other reviews I'm bucking the trend here so you may have a completely different opinion.
If you are a mad Phillipa Gregory fan then by all means go and knock yourself out and buy it, although granted you probably already have it. This is not however a book which I would recommend to the casual reader, particularly if this is the first of her books you would read. She has written far better even if you only count her historical novels in this. It has its moments, but it is not a great book. It's certainly not her best book.
'He stumbles back, he, the great king, almost falls back before her contempt. Never in his life has he ever seen any expression in any woman's face but desire and welcome. He is stunned. In her flushed face and bright, offended gaze he sees the first honest opinion of himself that he has ever known. In a terrible, blinding flash he sees himself as he truly is; an old man, long past his prime, no longer handsome, no longer desirable, a man that a younger woman would push roughly away from her because she could not bear his touch.'
I became intrested in the Tudors after reading some Elizabeth Weir novels. Some fellow dooyoo members suggested that I might enjoy reading books by Phililppa Gregory another English historical novelist.
'The Boleyn Inheritance' is the second that I have read by Gregory and I'm quite sure it will not be the last. It is one of six in her Tudor series and follows the lives of three woman at the royal court during the reign of King Henry VIII, two of whom he married and a lady-in-waiting.
>>> THE AUTHOR <<<
Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya in 1954. When she was two years old her family moved to England. She was educated at the university of Sussex and then the university of Edinburgh where she earned her doctorate in 18th Century literature. Her history knowledge is vast but she does have a certain interest in the 16th Century and the Tudor period. One of her most successful novels is 'The Other Boleyn Girl' which has been both adapted for the BBC in 2003 and then made into a film which was released in 2008 starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. As successful as she is Gregory still had critical reviewers, especially with her 'lack of historical accuracy' regarding Anne Boleyn.
In 2008 Gregory won Celebrity Mastermind with a specialist subject of Elizabeth Woodville. Twenty years ago she funded a charity paying for wells in Gambia. She now lives with her third husband and family on a farm in Yorkshire.
The Philippa Gregory website is well worth a visit for information on all her books and other historical facts; www.philippagregory.com.
>>> THE STORY<<<
'The Boleyn Inheritance' is actually the sequel to 'The Other Boleyn Girl'. It starts in 1539 and ends in 1542. In this time King Henry VIII has two marriages, and the story is told by thoses wifes, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard as well as their Lady-in waiting, Jane Boleyn known as Lady Rochford.
ANNE OF CLEVES was a German noblewoman the daughter of John III Duke of Cleves. She came to England to Marry the King in 1540 after the King had seen only a portrait of Anne. She was very happy to come to England so she could escape her cruel brother,a strict Lutheran who had taken charge of the family since the death of her father in 1538. Anne could not speak any English which made everything much harder for her. The introduction to King Henry was a complete disaster as he came in disguise to trick her and she pushed him away in public. Anne was Henrys fourth wife and it lasted just seven months. Due to her strict religious upbringing Anne had never been taught to sing or dance or even dress well, all these factors resulted in Henry not finding her attactive in any way and never even consummating the marriage. In the end Anne agreed to sign an annulment saying that she was still engaged to Francis of Lorraine. The truth was that she had been engaged to him when she was twelve but it was called off in 1535! Although at first fearing for her life Anne was actually given a generous settlement including Richmond Palace and Hever Castle. She was to be referred to as the Kings 'beloved sister' and was often invited back to court.
I liked Annes character she came across as gentle and kind. She wanted contact with Henrys three children and became very close with Mary the daughter of his first wife Katherine of Arragon. I found myself feeling sorry for Anne more than any other character in this book even though she lived to tell the tale I feel that she was a victim of abuse both in Germany and then in England.
KATHERINE HOWARD was the cousin of Anne Boleyn. At the beginning of the book she was living with her grandmother in Norfolk House. Katherine (Kitty) was on the naughty side with regards to the opposite sex and it was here that she had a relationship with Francis Dereham and they declared themselves husband and wife. Kittys uncle found her a place at the royal court and she soon forgort Francis. She became Lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves where her bubbly personality and good looks soon won the eye of admirers. One was King Henry who described her as his 'Rose without a thorn' and another was Thomas Culpepper Henrys favourite courtier. When Kittys uncle saw the way Henry felt for Kitty he encouraged her to act on it. In July 1540 as soon as he could Henry married her. She tried hard to be a good wife as being a Queen was an extravagance she loved but soon the appeal of a much younger and fitter man took her fancy and with encouragement from her Uncle via Lady Rochford she began an affair with Thomas Culpepper.
Everyone knows the ending here . . . with less than two years of marriage Kitty was beheaded on the grounds of treason and adultry.
Kitty was portrayed as quite a simple girl who was only really interested in dresses, jewellery and men. I did feel sorry for her because she was so young and was pushed into situations by her greedy uncle. Henry was so very much older than her and sounded quite repulsive, who can blame her wanting a younger model?
JANE BOLEYN, known as Lady Rochford was an English noblewoman who was sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn as she had married her brother - George. She seemed haunted by the past and often referred to her husband and Anne. It turned out that she had helped sentence them both to death for treason and incest. She also helped with the annulment of Anne and Henrys marriage by confirming it had not been consumated. Jane was Lady -in -waiting to Katherine Howard which at first seemed good as she knew how to behave at court and was a help to Kitty. However, with The Duke of Norfolks demands Jane encouraged the relationship between Kitty and Thomas and arranged meetings for them. When the affair came to light she was executed on the same day as Kitty.
It was difficult to like this character. At first I felt sorry for her because of the death of her husband but then it turned out she had testifyed against him. She seemed very jealous, especially of Anne Boleyn and very devious. She belived she was to be rewarded with a new husband so she must have been lonely.
As I have already mentioned the book is told just by these three women. However, I feel that I must include some description of the man himself, the reason they were all there;
KING HENRY VIII - 28/6/1491 - 28/1/1547. Henry was the son of Henry VII. He was crowned King in 1509. He was a well educated man fluent in Latin,French and Spanish. I believe he was a handsome man in his prime, however this book covers his later life where he is in poor health and obese. The book often refers to his leg wound which would leak pus and smell. The thought of him in the bedroom snoring and passing wind were quite horrifying. I have never really disliked him in my previous reads but in this book he came across as egotistical, insecure and harsh. Basically anyone who stood in his way was charged with high treason and executed. Although I knew my history I still felt quite worried for Anne of Cleves knowing how easily he depossed of people, I could certainly feel her fear!
The other significant character in the book was the DUKE of NORFOLK who was uncle to both Anne Bolyen and Katherine Howard. He was an evil, greedy man who used people to strenthen his power at court. He planned for Kitty to get pregnant by Thomas and pretend the baby was Henrys so that a Howard boy could get to the throne. He had no thought or care for anyones feelings and I really did not like him.
I hope I have not said too much to ruin the story for anyone as hopefully we all know the basic story of Henry and his six wives. If you want a more in depth picture of wife four and five than this is the book for you. I love the way it is told by the womwn so you can see events unfolding through their eyes. Also another thing that I personally like is that each 'chapter' is very short, two to five pages. This agrees with me as sometimes I only have really short opportunitys to read.
I would recommend this book to anyone, male or female and it doesnt really matter if you are not that interested in history, the story is gripping anyway!
Available on amazon £4.48
This is a review of the book "The Boleyn Inheritance" by Philippa Gregory. I'm increasingly becoming a big fan of this author and am working my way through a stash of her novels, but I try not to read them back to back as the genre is very 'historical' as you may expect.
A little about the storyline
The Boleyn Inheritance follows three women: Jane Boleyn, who married the Boleyn brother of Anne (Henry VIII's second wife) called George. She is now widowed after he 'lost his head' at the Tower with Anne and she misses him dreadfully. She fills the void with time at Court, loyal to whomever the queen may be at a given time.
The second woman the book follows is the new Queen (fourth one of Henry's), the German bred Anne of Cleves. She is painted as plain and dowdy and totally out of her depth in Court married to Henry. Despite this, she sees the bright side of things and tries to do everything she thinks a Queen should do, but darn it, she just cannot get rid of her virginity and that's no good when England needs a second in line heir to carry on the King's line.
The third woman is a flibbertigibbet of a girl, aged only 16, Katherine Howard is brought to court as a Lady in Waiting to the new Queen, Anne, but she manages early on to catch the King's eye and oops! he doesn't want Anne any more, he wants the fun and vivacious (and totally dumb) Katherine.
You may already know what happens to most of Henry VIII's wives. Well without spoiling the ending, you won't be disappointed with this one if you like a bit of a gory finish!!
What's it like?
So... you get the gist. Three very different characters telling their stories of Court in the year 1539. If you've read other books by P Gregory, you'll recognise her style instantly. I really do think she sticks loosely to the facts and then weaves them into a story to make it compulsive reading. There are some beautiful illustrations in the cover of my hardback version which give an idea of what Anne and Katherine may have looked like back in the day.
By now, the King's getting old and is quite ill with a gammy leg and whilst he hasn't lost his eye for the ladies, he's not the catch he once was. The court do their best to keep him cheerful but his foul moods are getting worse and everyone knows that if you get on the wrong side of the king he's likely to have your head cut off!
I think sometimes the characters are really over cooked, particularly Katherine. Now I know she is meant to be silly and frivolous but sometimes it's a bit irritating. She starts many of her chapters with "Now what do I have" and then lists all her dresses, jewels and belongings which, fair enough are what is most important to her but really, you'd think she'd stop caring once she got to the position where she can have anything she wants as queen. On the flip side, Anne of Cleves was quite boring and again although this was her character, you just wanted her to do something that wasn't so drab and dull.
I thought this was a fine read and am already glancing at the next Gregory book in the pile to be read. Once I picked this up, I couldn't put it down. Whilst you appreciate that the author has to develop the characters' stories to make them readable it just makes you feel like you're there at the time. I love it!
Not about the book but it amused me: What I loved most about this book was the fact that I got it off ebay and it had a little note hidden in it from the original owner, it was a gift (but looked like it hadn't been read!) and it said: "Dear Grandma, Merry Christmas hope you are well in the UK. We are thinking of you on the beach in Australia, enjoying our barbecue." Charming... they got to go to Oz and all she got was a book she didn't want! LOL!!
This is a historical novel set in the Tudors reign with Henry VIII was on the throne. The story is the sequel to The Other Boleyn Girl which was also made into a film starring Eric Bana, Scarlet Johanson and Natalie Portman. The book is written by historical writer Phillipha Gregory. She has also written other books about the Tudors as well as other periods in history.
I like historical novels but I've always preferred the Victorian era and I don't really like novels based on the monarchy. So why would I read a book about the Tudors? Well, I watched The Other Boleyn Girl as my friend wanted to watch it and I surprisingly liked it. I am not a fan of the Tudors and especially Henry VIII. I didn't want to read The Other Boleyn Girl because I already knew the story so I got the sequel.
The book begins after the death of Jane Seymour (after child birth) in 1539. Henry VIII needs a wife and he is advised on Anne of Cleves by Thomas Cromwell. He has paintings sent to him and he agrees to the marriage. Jane Boleyn is summoned back to court by her uncle the Duke of Norfolk to be a maid in waiting for the Queen. She has wanted to go back to court ever since the tragic death of her husband George and sister Anne Boleyn. She believes that this will help her to get rid of the scandal of her husband and sister-in-law. Katherine Howard, a niece of the Duke of Norfolk is also summoned to court as a maid in waiting. She cares only for the dancing and the young men that will be at court. All three of these women have come to Henry VII's court to find a better life, little do they know that only danger and fear awaits them.
Jane Boleyn constantly makes references to the death of her husband and her sister in law and I think she was forever haunted with their deaths. This is most probably because it was the evidence that she gave that sent them to their deaths. She does say that she had no choice, it was either them or her and she saved herself. I suspect that jealousy played a major part in the reason why she decided to give evidence as she talks about how George never paid her any attention and he was always at Anne's side. Her ambition to rise in the court and she does not care who gets hurt in the process. She does show remorse for her actions and she seems to feel that she has no choice in certain matters.
Out of all the characters I found Jane Boleyn to be the worst. She continually does the immoral or wrong thing throughout the book and she shows signs of knowing this but she continues to do this. The fact that she was the reason husband who she says she adores and her sister in law die made me think this woman is capable of anything. She even says that Mary could have saved them and that she is not the only one to blame. It is very hard to feel sorry for this woman who only has herself to blame for her downfall. She is adamant however to turn her life around. Is this possible?
Anne of Cleves wants to escape her dominating brother and her disapproving mother. She has been brought up in a very strict protestant home. Her brother sees her marriage to Henry VIII as a route securing a protestant England. At first I thought of Anne as a desperate young girl as she would rather marry a man old enough to be her father to escape her impossible family. Her English causes her many problems, especially with the King. Her interpreter is not always at her side and she finds the language and the way of the English life hard to conform to. She slowly becomes a favoured Queen by her household and the people. She saw herself as the women who would change England for the better. Can she survive as Henry's fourth wife to this?
She seems to live her life doing whatever the men in her life tell her to do. Even though she is strong willed and stubborn she is always being controlled. First it was her brother and now the king. She escaped from one hell and entered another. I felt sorry for her but because she is strong minded and aware of how to act I didn't see she was in more danger than Katherine who is totally wild and has no sense of anything. Her brothers treatment of her was atrocious and without just cause. Towards the end she is seen to be much happier and content.
Katherine Howard is described as very young girl that cares only for herself and material possessions. She is also wild, child like and rather innocent. She does not know of the danagers of the court, even though she fears the king. I think that she had very little guidance and being so young she was not protected either. I think she must have felt very lonely even though she had many friends. She would do whatever was asked of her and that ultimately led her do things that she wouldn't have done if she was older and wiser.
The tyranny of the King and his volatile nature really shines through and everyone around him fear for their lives. He becomes paranoid and fearful of his power and no one, absolutely no one is safe. Gregory's description of his mental and physical state is that of an old, ill and deranged fool. He is his own enemy. I cant seem to understand why anyone would want to work with or marry him.
The Duke of Norfolk is the character that really annoyed me because he would use members of his own family as pawns and not care for the grave consequences that follow. He is the man that causes the death of so many by twisting the truth or manipulating those around him. I wouldn't want him as an uncle.
The book is laid out so that each chapter is told in the first person by either Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves or Katherine Howard. I thought this layout was quite strange and didn't know if it would work well but the writing flowed and the chapters where short. I liked this style of writing because I felt that I got to know all of the characters well and sometimes the same event would be told from all 3 of the characters perspective.
Gregory really brings all the characters to life. The pace of the book was good and considering it was over 500 pages long I thought that I would get bored at some point. The truth is I couldn't put it down, I just wanted to keep reading and many books don't have this effect of me. I was totally absorbed in the book. She really is a skilled writer. I can vividly image all the characters and the settings. The writing was really easy to understand and there was nothing complicated.
I can hardly remember much about the Tudors as I did not take History for GCSE and so I didn't know the plot. I'm not sure if knowing the plot will make reading the book less interesting but I thought it was excellent.
I don't like the Tudor era and I still found this book entertaining and absorbing. I toughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend that anyone interested in history of any era should read it. It may be advisable to read The other Boleyn Girl first because it sets the scene for this book. There are also many references to the prequel in this book.
I shall be looking out for more books by Gregory.
I decided to read The Boleyn Inheritance after really enjoying reading another Philippa Gregory novel, The Other Boleyn Girl.
The Boleyn Inheritance picks up the story of Henry VIII and his wives after the death of Jane Seymour, and he has decided to find himself a new wife.
The story is told in first person from 3 different points of view. The chapters alternate between whether they are narrated by Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard or Jane Boleyn. At first I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this as it switches quite a lot during the book, but it was actually a very interesting way to tell the story. Sometimes two characters recounting the same events would see them in very different lights, so the reader can see more than one side of the story. However, the retelling of events does not happen too often, so the book can move quite quickly.
I found the book to be very hard to put down, and wanted to keep reading to find out what happens next. Although most people will know the key historical facts about Henry and his wives, and ultimately know how the story ends, the book is none the less very engaging, and Philippa Gregory writes in a way that makes you keep wanting to find out more.
I'm not sure whether it is the case is all editions of this book, but in the edition I read there is an authors note at the end, which is a couple of pages detailing the historical facts of the novel. Whenever I read a book such as this which is based on people or situations that were real, I'm always keen to know how much is true. It seems a lot of the facts about people, events, times and places are true, the only parts the author admits are her imagination are the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the characters.
Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard are wives of Henry that I don't know very much about, as neither were married to him for very long, and school history lessons just gave a brief overview of the facts. This book really brought these women to life, and brought home the horror and fear that would have been present in Henry's court. It was interesting to think about these people not just as names learnt in a history class, but as real people who certainly suffered at the hands of Henry VIII.
This was a very interesting novel, and I think anyone who has even a slight interest in Tudor history would enjoy it.
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, and the Tudor period in particular is incredibly interesting to me . I tend to guzzle up anything I can find on the period, fiction or non-fiction, and so when I saw that my favourite author, Phillipa Gregory, had written the Boleyn Inheritance, I was very keen to read it, not only because it was a favourite author of mine, but also because it would provide an almost direct continuation of the story of Henry VIII's wives, following on as it does from 'The Other Boleyn Girl'
It's not really a sequel, and there is a small gap in time, during which Jane, the wife that gave Henry a son, dies . You'll notice I don't refer to her as Queen Jane - she was never crowned, nor officially named as a queen consort. The book begins in 1539 with Henry looking for a new wife, following the advice of his counsellors . Trouble is, when you put one good woman aside to die in loneliness and ill health in a damp and dreary manor, and send another to die on the block on trumped up charges of witchcraft, incest, and adultery, not many women are likely to line up to follow in their footsteps . (One line in the book particularly summed this up, with Christina of Milan saying 'I'd be delighted to marry him, if only I had two necks!')
So, Henry looks to the small royal family of Cleves, settling on middle sister Anne as his wife. Anne, for her part, is desperate to escape her home, where she is routinely beaten and humiliated, and sees being Queen of England as a move that will ensure her future safety from such abuse, as well as giving her a role to fill. However, after she spits out his first kiss, things go a little bit pear shaped, and she soon finds the king is not the loving husband she had been hoping for, especially when his eye is turned by one of her serving maids, pretty little Katherine Howard (whom he would often describe as his ' rose without a thorn' .
The story is written from three different viewpoints - that of Anne , that of Katherine, and that of Jane Boleyn . It is Jane in particular that I found fascinating, as she's not so well known a historical figure. She is the sister in law of Anne Boleyn, and it was n part her evidence that led to the death of Anne, as well as the execution of her husband, George Boleyn . Now husband less, she is forced to live on the charity of her uncle Howard, also related to Katherine,and finds herself ordered to push Katherine forward at every opportunity, in the hope of bringing fortune to the family once again . She's very conniving, and always looking out for her own good over that of others, as evidenced by her decision to feign madness in the hope of ensuring her own safety.
Anne's narrative portrays her as a figure to be pitied initially - she's had a hard life, and it isn't made any easier once she comes to England. I found the story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother and brother interesting, as few other books about her I have read mention any of this, although one other does mention her brother having a 'disordered mind' . Whether the abuse was added simply as a device to illustrate why she might have made the decisions she did, I don't know, but it certainly made the book very interesting, and explained her huge willingness to please everyone.
Katherine is portrayed as a foolish young girl , which is indeed what she would have been, having only been 15 when she married and 17 when she died. I feel this was an excellent way to portay her, and also this particular point illustrates why I enjoy historical fiction so much . You see, when reading non fiction accounts of the times, you are often presented with dry facts, and it is often so easy to forget that tragic figures like poor Katherine were simply very young girls, still children in my mind, that were forced to obey the orders of others. When the facts are presented in a first person narrative though, it becomes far easier to understand and to sympathise with her plight - after all, what attractive young girl wants to be married to a much older man, who is grossly overweight and has a stinking ulcer on his leg, especially knowing that he ordered the death of her cousin. Yes, it could be argued that she was stupid for then having an affair, and for hiding her past dalliances from the king, but it could also be argued that a girl that young, still going through puberty, would inevitably find herself in the grip of a passionate crush.
I really enjoyed this book., I loved the depth of personality fro the characters, and that way I was made to understand the way they thought and acted . The book itself kept a good pace, never becoming slow or draggy, and for the most part was historically accurate regarding all the key facts. 5/5
Isnt the title similar to another book?
This book, whilst being a standalone novel is also the sequel to the hugely successful "The other Boleyn Girl" which told the story of Mary and Ann Boleyn. You certainly don't need to have read the first book to enjoy the Boleyn Inheritance.
What is it all about?
Being a historical novel based loosely on real events you, as the reader will probably know the rough outline of the plot of this book before you start to read.
The novel is set in the year 1539 in the court of Henry the VIII - one of the greatest monarchs of all time. His third wife - Jane Seymour has recently died horribly in childbirth providing him with the son and heir that he had so desparately craved for many years.
As king of England he needs to ensure that succession and being the 1530s the chances of one son surviving him to before king were fair to middling - but Henry needs another son to "be safe". Thus he must marry. For those of who can remember your history you will know that Anne of Cleves comes next - followed very shortly by Katherine Howard.
The book covers the reigns of both Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard ending with the execution of Katherine in 1542.
The book is told through the eyes of three women
Anne of Cleves - as a woman in the 16th Century career prospects were limited to who you could marry and she seems to have landed the greatest prize when at the age of 24 she is married to Henry, king of England. the impression that I have always had of Anne of Cleves from the history books was that she was an ugly woman with little to recommend her and therefore Henry had little choice but to divorce her and take a new wife.
Gregory uses the book to dispel the myth of Anne of Cleves, making her an intelligent and brave character throughout the novel - and not at all ugly but a poor young woman having to marry a king twice her age with a rotton leg wound (and or course probably syphalis).
Anne is a character with wit and intelligence and as you read this novel I challenge you not to sympathise with her and root for her to survive!
Jane Rochford / Jane Boleyn. If you know your history or have read The Other Boleyn Girl you will remember that Lady Rochford was married to George Boleyn (the brother of Ann) and gave evidence that he slept with his sister - which certainly contributed to both George and Ann being sentenced to death.
She was cast as the baddy in that book and this continues in the Boleyn Inheritance. Jane befriends both Anne and Katherine -but schemes with Duke Howard to provide evidence against both.
THroughout the novel you are forced to listen to the voice of a woman who sent her husband to the block but claims that she loved him and that was why she did it. A really interesting character but one that I could not warm to.
Again, not a queen of England that I knew a great deal about - other than that she was executed for being unfaithful to the king. She has a reputation for being perhaps the most stupid of his wives, again an angle not used by Gregory in this novel.
tHe character of Katherine is undoubtably shallow and she does not understand the consequences of her actions but the saddest thing about her is that she was so young. Married to a 49 year old king with a rotton leg at the age of 15 and beheaded before her 17th birthday. Again, although she may come across as shallow and grasping I challenge you not to feel pity for Katherine - a victim of child abuse from a young age and made to suffer a horrible end.
Other characters include
Henry VIII - anyone who has seen "The Tudors" with the gorgeous young King Henry adjust your expectations - this is the huge, fat, syphalitic, injured old king of the Holbein portraits. His madness is more than hinted at, and the sheer number of deaths in this book reflect that. Gregory manages to describe the horror of having to sleep with a man grossly overweight, impotent and smelly but desparate to have a child and with ultimate power over his subjects. A terrifying character making me glad I am a modern woman!
Duke Howard - the highest ranking Howard family member and uncle to Katherine Howard - plots and schemes to raise Katherine to queen and then dashes her down, leaving her to die at the age of 16.
What did I like?
I loved the fact that this story is told by three different narrators. Each has her own tone and you quickly get to know each of them. You really discover the motivations of each and whether you like them or not you understand the reasons for doing what they did.
THe plot moves along at a fair old rate and the author is very sympathetic to the women - something which addresses the gender imbalance of power in the novel.
I know that it is only loosely based on historical facts but Gregory brings alive the court of Henry VIII and the horror of being married to him. Her descriptive prose lets you see the sights, sounds and smells of the court and brings the characters to life.
A bodice ripper of a historical novel - again, asking to be made into a successful film (although not sure Eric Bana could play Henry in this story). Romps along, and draws you in - even though you know what happens at the end before you start reading the journey is worth the sad ending!
Philippa Gregory does not disappoint with another installment in her Tudor history series.In this novel se examines the period 1539 to 1542 and the events that follow the death of Jane Seymour.
Through the eyes of Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn we see the result of the disatrous union with Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard's infidelity and all of this backed up with Jane Boleyn's input. Each chapter alternaties between the perspective of one of these women which gradually forms the building blocks of the story.
This is another novel from Philippa Gregory that will keep you avidly turning the pages, devouring each word with anticipation and enjoyment.
I feel that Gregory came up trumps with beleivable characterisations of all 3 women - working with little information as history does not note much of their existence. Obviously much of it is fiction and speculation but she weaves a brilliant, intriguing and complelling tale.
I found this novel to be very well written, it kept a good pace so I didn't get bored, I devoured it in one sitting. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in similr novels. It was really interesting covering women who you don't see much of in history and it is really exciting and enjoyable to read.
The Boleyn Inheritance is set after The Other Boleyn Girl, Queen Jane is dead and the King is looking for his new wife, and so we meet Lady Anne of Cleves. The book however isn't only through the eyes of Anne and it switches between a young Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Rochford the sister-in-law in Anne Boleyn, the be-headed Queen.
The book begins with Anne of Cleves having her potrait painted along with her sister, and she strongly wishes to be the next Queen of England. We meet Lady Jane Rochford living a boring life in the country and longing for a request to go back to court to be a lady in waiting to the new Queen. Katherine Howard is at Lambeth living with her step Grandmother, and at only 15 is already worrying of becoming old and dreaming of riches.
Anne of Cleves is of course chosen by King Henry to become the new Queen of England and so she begins her procession from Germany to London. She is overwhelmed by all the attention she gets, especially as she arrives at Calais and mainland England, and people doubt whether she is good enough to be Queen.
Lady Jane has been summoned to court by her Uncle to be the lady in waiting for Queen Anne, and to become close to her. Haunted by the memories of her deceased husband George Boleyn and sister-in-law Anne Boleyn she once again becomes close to the Queen of England.
Katherine Howard is also summouned to court by her Uncle, making her very excited, and it's noy long before the young Katherine draw's Henry's attention...
As history goes, Henry ends up having his marriage to Anne annulled however she becomes the first Queen to not end up dead and he actually makes her second to the Queen and declares her as a sister to him.
Katherine Howard becomes a very young Queen of England, however King Henry is old enough to be her grandfather and has become extremely large, and not to exclude his old leg wound which stinks, so it seems inevitable that 16 year old Katherine will catch the eye of the young men courtiers.
Gregory has followed on from The Boleyn Girl beautifully and yet again sticks to historical fact in every place. Of course it is fiction, however I am very pleased by how she always sticks to facts when it comes to the main points.
I really enjoyed how this time we saw it through the eyes of 3 different women at court and all 3 sounded very different and had completely different characters. Anne of Cleves is more elegant and sophisticated, Katherine Howard is young and vain, and Lady Jane is troubled with haunting memories which follow her everywhere around court. Gregory did a brilliant job at imagining what went through the minds of these 3 women and has based these thoughts on the knowledge she has through research.
There was never a dull moment in this book for me, Gregory keeps this flowing along nicely and each new chapter comes from the mind of someone else, and whilst the chapters aren't long at all, it continues with a good pace. It's clear to see just how mad King Henry is becoming, the religious changes of the time often mentioned in the book along with the amount of people who has executed for treason. People are scared of him at court and he constantly seems to be in an angry mood, no thanks to his leg wound which always troubles him.
In all this is a very enjoyable read and if you liked The Other Boleyn Girl you will certainly enjoy this one just as much. I couldn't put it down and read it in a few days.
Truth is, I'm a sucker for anything to do with history. Especially if it's about past Kings and Queens of Britain or the Romans! Hence the reason why I'm such a keen viewer of programmes such as The Tudors and Rome. Yes I know that neither are completely correct with the truth, but there are some things which you can get away with.
One of my favourite authors of these types of novels is Jean Plaidy but recently I have discovered another who is just as good. Phillipa Gregory. She has written past books The Other Boleyn Girl and The Virgin Lover.
The Boleyn Inheritance is based around the year of 1539 at the time of Henry VIII. It has been over 3 years since the beheading of Anne Boleyn and her brother George, whilst the people of England are desperate for a new Queen. Jane Seymour has already died, alone, the absence of the King well noticed. But now is not the time for grieving of those who are no longer around.
There are 3 main narrators throughout the book. Jane Boleyn (wife of George), Anne of Cleves ( the 4th wife) and Katherine Howard (the 5th wife.)
After being tarnished thanks to the scandal of the Boleyn's Jane is now a 30 year old woman who has sent her son away, desperate to be back at court however she dreams about the day when the Duke of Suffolk will send her a letter, granting her wish.
Anne has had to deal with the coldness of her brother towards her, whilst he cherishes her other sisters especially Amelia. Longing to be free from her world of constraint the idea of being Queen, naturally appeals to her. Although, she has been brought up under the strictest of circumstances and can only speak German this proves a certain problem when trying to make friends with other people. Even the King seems to dislike her and gets angry with her frequently for such small things.
Katherine Howard is a flirt. And a lot more. At the age of 14 she knows all about how to go about attracting a man. In fact everyone knows of it. Until her Uncle sends her to court to be one of Anne's Maids in Waiting. She is instructed that she must be rid of all the talk of her waywardness which when all she is interested in is having fun, makes things a bit of a struggle.
Until, that is, when she picks up on the fact that Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves have been unable to consummate the marriage. Which is not surprising after their first meeting. Henry, well known for disguising himself and then revealing who he is to fake surprises from the people around, was surprised at how Anne shoved him away when he kissed her fully on the mouth. To the horror of her maids afterwards when she spat onto the floor beside him. Perhaps making Henry see what others see him to appear as. An old, fat, wounded man. Not the handsomest prince in Christendom.
Wounded he does not forgive her for this, and blames her of witchcraft when he is 'unmanned.'
Using this to her own advantage, Katherine makes the most of her flirtatious knowledge, wearing tight clothes and curtseying as low as possible when in front of him. It is clear to quite a few of the court that he has shown a keen interest in her.
This novel follows the way in which each of the three go about trying to make something of their lives. Anne, trying to cope in her new home when she feels isolated from her family and how she knows something is not right with how the King and other officials who deal with him act suspiciously when they think she is not looking.
Katherine flirting her way to the crown and Jane, still being held of suspicion and haunted because of the Boleyn name.
This is a great book for those who are keen on Tudor history. I don't claim to know if everything in it is based on the truth but that doesn't make it the worse for it.
Ok, it seems I've been on Amazon again, unsupervised, which means I've been able to indulge one of my obsessions; Henry VIII and his six wives. Having recently read a few books on the subject, one of which was The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory I came across this by the same author and just had to have it.
The Boleyn Inheritance is written in Philippa Gregory's usual style of turning history into a dramatic novel which mostly stays true to the real events. This book is written from the viewpoint of three different women, Jane Boleyn who was George Boleyn's wife, Anne of Cleves who was of course Henry's 4th wife and Katherine Howard who became his 5th wife.
We begin with the King minus a Queen. Jane Seymour has been dead a while and Henry has been casting his net around for a new wife only to find they aren't in as plentiful supply as they were before he divorced one, beheaded another and left a third to die alone. Finally he sends a painter to Cleves to paint Anne and her younger sister Amelia to see if either take his fancy.
As we all know he took a liking to the portrait of Anne and decided he would marry her. So she sets off for England to become Queen, Jane Boleyn is called back to court to become her Lady In Waiting and Katherine Howard is dreaming of becoming a Maid In Waiting.
As we all know Henry didn't take to Anne of Cleves. Their first meeting was a disaster as Henry impulsively decided to meet her unannounced but the wedding went ahead anyway as Henry was short of alliances at the time and feared war.
The story told through the eyes of Anne is probably fairly accurate in how she felt. Married off to a by now obese, bad-tempered, aging King with a constant open wound on his leg that often smelt rotten wouldn't have filled her with joy! She came to England unable to speak hardly any of the language and completely ignorant of fashion and the duties of a wife. Henry didn't like her much and his advisors daren't tell her. She had no inkling of this for some time and must have been humiliated when she found out Henry was saying she smelt terrible, had a fat stomach, slack breasts and repulsed him to the point of being impotent to anyone who would listen.
In fact she was very lucky to escape the axe as Henry thought it couldn't possibly be his fault he couldn't perform with her so therefore she, or someone else close to her, must have been a witch and cursed him. Typical Henry VIII, by this time even thinking the King may one day die was considered treason.
So Anne became Queen but not for long and Henry was rapidly plotting how to be rid of her right from the start. Luckily for her at that point in time it was illegal to marry if you'd previously been betrothed to someone else so Henry used that as his get out clause along with the fact the marriage was never consummated. Had he managed to perform in the bedroom her fate may have been very different.
So Henry being Henry decided to annul the marriage and make her his sister. Only Henry would be able to change his wife to his sister! She is portrayed as being initially upset about this but rapidly liking the idea of not being married to Henry and being her own woman. She could never marry of course as she was officially still betrothed to the person Henry decided she had been betrothed to before their marriage so as long as this man lived Anne had to remain either a spinster or marry him! How times have changed!
It didn't end there for Anne though, as the King's "sister" she would be invited to court at regular intervals and lived her life in fear of Henry changing his mind and deciding she was the wrong faith, had been improper with men or well, had dared to even think bad thoughts about him and being executed. Philippa Gregory does build up tension around Anne very well and you can almost feel the fear she must have lived with while Henry was alive. He verged on insane at this point, was prone to bouts of dark moods, outbursts and impulsive behaviour that often led to violent consequences. Considered the lucky wife at the time she must have always had to be on her guard and was never really free of Henry.
Jane Boleyn was of course George Boleyn's wife. George was the brother of Anne Boleyn for anyone who doesn't know. Jane was intensely jealous of George and Anne's close relationship, George wasn't happily married to her, and her evidence during their trials really sealed their fates. She is known to be a nasty piece of work who only ever thought of herself and frankly was perfectly happy to send her own husband and sister-in-law to the block. So imagine my surprise when the first few sections from Jane's point of view imply she missed them both terribly and felt she had tried to save them from death. What? And again, what?
I nearly didn't read this book because of this. I thought if the author had decided to completely transform the personality and behaviour of Jane Boleyn I couldn't have read it with any sort of belief. Fortunately I read on and soon discovered we were sticking to the true events of the trial but Jane was kidding herself with regards her role.
So Jane is now Lady In Waiting to Anne of Cleves. She spies on Anne and reports back to her uncle who is the Duke of Norfolk and head of the Howard family. Her information is going to be used against the Queen (again!) by her uncle should it be necessary or advantageous to the Howard family. She is portrayed as devious, experienced at court which she must have been by that point, always watching for an opening to cause trouble for the Queen and ready to trick her into a wrong move at every turn. And yet at the same time helpful and efficient which of course could have led to Anne trusting her implicitly. But Anne was no fool, she had a sharp mind and it was merely the language barrier which made her seem less than bright so Jane failed to bring this Queen to the block.
Jane did sign a statement against Anne at one point but it was never used. So Jane could only cause minimal trouble for Anne until Katherine Howard, of course part of Jane's family by marriage, came to court to be a Maid In Waiting.
Katherine was a silly young girl, beautiful but uneducated, lively but materialistic and caught the eye of the King. He thought he could regain some of his youth through her and had to have her. Jane and the Duke seized the opportunity and thrust Katherine into the King's sight whenever possible knowing if she behaved tempting but virginal he would want her. This was of course the tried and tested method used by her cousin Anne Boleyn and then again by Jane Seymour so they knew it would succeed.
Jane had the task of making sure this happened and she came through. Katherine became the next Queen. Most of Katherine's chapters begin with the line "Now what do I have?" which makes her seem only interested in the gifts the King gave her. She is known to have been nothing like the other Queens and lacked proper behaviour, intelligence and a sharp tongue but she was attractive, vivacious and obedient to a point.
We do get to share some of the horror of her having to sleep with the King with his huge fat body and stinking leg wound and her repulsion of him but she played her part very well until a young man called Thomas Culpepper caught her eye and a previous lover called Francis Dereham came to work for her. These two proved to be her downfall.
Francis knew her years before she became Queen and she had slept with him and referred to herself as his wife. This in itself meant she would have fallen out of favour with Henry and been divorced but she also had a love affair with Thomas, one of the King's favourites, whilst married to Henry and we all know what that meant for her! Jane helped her arrange secret meetings with Thomas, which is a fact, but the speculation in this book is that Jane thought Katherine would get pregnant by Thomas and Henry would think it was his baby thus strengthening the position of the Howard family. This is confirmed as speculation at the back of the book, all we know for a fact is Jane helped Katherine meet Thomas in secret.
Naturally it all came out and Henry found out the truth, Thomas and Francis were tortured and confessed and Katherine didn't have enough wits about her to save herself. Jane began by denying the affair then threatened to tell the truth but by that time the truth was already out there and she was implicated because she'd helped the affair happen.
Thomas and Francis were executed first followed by Katherine and then Jane Boleyn. So Jane got her dues in the end and her devious scheming became her own downfall.
The book really makes you feel the fear of everyone in England at this point. Henry had gone quite literally mad with power and he could change the law at the drop of a hat to suit the situation so no-one was safe. Those closest to him seem to have been in the most danger. Anne could quite easily have been killed but instead had to live a life of fear. Katherine was executed before she reached seventeen and although the King's last real love and his little darling it didn't save her life. Jane of course deserved all she got and the only question seems to be why it took so long for Henry to realise what she was like.
The author really makes you feel this fear and danger and it's fast-paced and hard to put it down. We alternate between the three women and their views on the current situation which is a really interesting way of writing the story. We get snippets about Henry's health, descriptions of various palaces and the finery, but most of all a real feel of the time.
This book is as good as The Other Boleyn Girl even though Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard aren't as documented as Anne Boleyn. Even though this is written in the style of a novel it is mostly factual and I suspect the way the women are portrayed is quite accurate.
If you like the Tudors this is one to read. I bought mine on Amazon Marketplace for a few pennies secondhand but new it sells for £4.90 from Amazon. It is over 500 pages long but don't expect it to last long, you won't be able to put it down!
Thanks for reading.
Anyone who loved The Other Boleyn Girl will also enjoy this sequel novel in Gregory's series of Tudor based books.
Interesting alternative angle on the Boleyn family and how the actions and consequences of Anne had an impact on the rest of the family and their future lives. This novel follows Jane Boleyn who was married to Anne's brother George as she maintains her place at Court through the reigns of Anne of Cleeves and Katherine Howard, the narrative is told through all three of these women's voices and it makes for an interesting read.
Gregory's talent for creating a fine tapestry of characters and plot, interweaving real events and people with the created nuances of drama, intrigue and romance which no doubt is not so far from the truth, is on fine display in this novel. It is hard to feel much sympathy for Jane Boleyn but Anne of Cleeves receives a much warmer portrayal.
I really like the way that Gregory portrays Henry VIII, such a renowned charater in British history, she shows him warts and all as a powerful but ultimately flawed individual - overindulged to the point of astonishing self belief, his arrogance, even when he is effectively a lame, overweight, middle aged man is astounding but believable, however, there are glimpses of the charm that he once had and also of the frustration he know feels, knowing he is hardly the oil painting he once was.
There is an irony in the way Henry and Anne of Cleeves first meet, described in this novel, which I would love to think is in some way near to what really happened - he is in disguise, believing himself to still be this debonairre, handsome, catch and she has no idea who he is, responding to what she thinks is a smelly old tramp harrassing her she is rude and dismissive - to the horror of Henry, who has never been spoken to in such a way. This delightfully sets the tone for their relationship, which we all know historically was a disaster, but it also cleverly justifies the almost immediate sense of anger and betrayal which Henry felt about his new wife.
A must read for any Gregory fans.
I thought for a change I would try my hand at reviewing a book, so here goes.
Ever since I started researching my family tree I have become interested in reading books set in the past, just so I can get a bit of an insight into how my ancestors may have lived. OK so at the moment I haven't found any royalty in my tree but I have found out that my Great x 3 Grandfather worked as a Carpenter in the Tower of London for Queen Victoria and traced my tree back to around 1580 when Queen Elizabeth I would have been on the throne. Although being an East Ender now living in Derbyshire quite a few of my ancestors were born and bred in the slums of the East End of London, so their ancestors could well have seen the Royalty of their day, out and about riding through the streets of London to get to other places.
So some of the obvious books to read would be Charles Dickens, for an insight into the Victorian era and Philippa Gregory for an insight into the Tudor period.
I read both Charles Dickens' Oliver and Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl whilst on holiday earlier in the year and recently have finished Philippa Gregory's book The Boleyn Inheritance.
The Boleyn Inheritance begins in 1539 when King Henry VIII is searching for his forth wife in a hope of fathering a second son as back up in case anything happens to his first son, Edward. After seeing a painting of some potential wives, he settles on Anne of Cleves. However their first meeting does not really go to plan with her finding the King a rather disgusting man, so one of her ladies in waiting, a young Katherine Howard jumps in to try and save the situation, and catches the eye of the King.
The story follows the lives and thoughts of three women through the volatile court of King Henry VIII over a three year period from July 1539 to February 1542 although the last chapter is five years later when King Henry VIII dies.
Anne of Cleves
Sister to the Duke of Cleves and constantly receiving a hard time from her Mother and her rather strange Brother and Sister. Unaware that she is being used as a pawn to keep Europe happy with England, she happily accepts the marriage proposal just to get away from her bullying Mother and Brother and is completely unaware of the fate of King Henry's previous wives. After a very shaky first meeting, the doomed marriage still goes ahead but due to a very strict upbringing Anne has no idea of how to behave in the bedroom and the chances of her giving the King his desired son are very limited. The King once again finds any excuse and changes the law of the land in order to be granted a second divorce. Even though the marriage only lasted 6 months and Anne was never officially crowned as queen she manages to escape the scaffold and keep her life. She decides not to return to her native Germany but to stay in England and was still slightly involved with the Kings Court and always lived in fear of her life.
Cousin to Anne Boleyn. The young teenage girl catches the eye of King Henry so her uncle the Duke of Norfolk once again thinks this is the chance to make the Boleyn/Howard family great again by putting another family member on the throne and to maybe getting an heir to throne in the way of a Boleyn/Howard male child. The Duke, who signed the death warrant for Anne Boleyn, is just out for his own gain and will do anything he can to make himself great within the kingdom. He suggests to Katherine that she flirt with the King and maybe she will go far too. The girl is so naive and young that of course she does as she is told. She herself, finds the thought of being married to the King, a man old enough to be her father or even Grandfather and rotting from the leg up, a rather horrible thought but takes on the challenge and becomes his fifth wife. Unfortunately the young girl yearns for friends her own age and certain people will do anything to see the Boleyn/Howard family fall flat on their faces. The enemies soon found things out about her which in the end, lead to her untimely death.
Jane Boleyn - Lady Rochford
Sister in Law to Anne Boleyn and married to Anne Boleyn's Brother George. Jane had been in King Henry's court since his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. She testified at the court hearing of Anne Boleyn because she was bitter and twisted about the Brother and Sister's relationship thus leading to her Sister-in-Law and her own husbands execution. She was at the side of Jane Seymour, the Kings third wife, when she died. She then became head of Anne of Cleves household and Katherine Howard's household. She was monkey to the organ grinder the Duke of Norfolk. For some reason she felt she was a true Boleyn even though she married into the family. She felt she was the rightful heir to the Boleyn Inheritance so was easy lead by the Duke of Norfolk. She once again testified during the divorce hearing with Anne of Cleves and her information could have lead to Anne of Cleves being executed and she encouraged the young Katherine Howard to make friends with men of her own age which lead to the downfall of Katherine. She pretended to be the hard done to widow so everybody would feel sorry for her.
The book is based on fact but the thoughts of these three women are obviously not known so the author has placed herself in their positions to write the book. Quite a bit is known about Henry VIII 's court and a lot of information is documented in the evidence that was given for the divorce and the execution, how much of this is true is anybodies guess. If the King wanted a new wife he could dish whatever dirt he wanted to and who would risk their life to argue with him.
I loved reading this book, I found it entertaining and very easy to read. Starting from the very first page I just didn't want to put it down. With the book coming from three different points of view it was interesting. Although the book is 514 pages the chapters are quite short normally between 5 and 7 pages. The book is fast paced and it is difficult to get bored. I tend to read when I go up to bed as this is the only time I can get a bit of peace and quite, well apart from Darren Snoring next to me, and I was finding myself thinking oh I'll just read another chapter. In my minds eye the Tudor period really came to life. I normally send my books to the local charity shop but not this one, I shall certainly be reading this book again.
I have tried not to give away too much of the book although it is very easy to find anything out about these women in history books and the internet.
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Many thanks for reading. Anna
From the bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl comes a wonderfully atmospheric evocation of the court of Henry VIII, and the one woman who destroyed two of his queens. The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both language and habits are foreign. Although fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she senses a trap closing around her. Catherine is confident that she can follow in the steps of her cousin Anne Boleyn to dazzle her way to the throne but her kinswoman Jane Boleyn, haunted by the past, knows that Anne's path led to Tower Green and to an adulterer's death. The story of these three young women, trying to make their own way through the most volatile court in Europe at a time of religious upheaval and political uncertainty is Philippa Gregory's most intense novel yet.