The court of King Henry VIII was a court ruled by fear and abject horror at the time that the German princess, Anne of Cleves arrived to become the fourth wife of the King. Having escaped living life under the thumb of her abusive brother and cold, domineering mother, Anne arrived in England, relieved but hopeful in her marriage to Henry, that she would have a much better life.
Instead of the tall, majestic personage of King Henry VIII - an image which was continually fostered abroad - Anne of Cleves encountered a man for whom she could only feel intense pity and no small measure of revulsion. This was the infamous King Henry VIII - a man whose volatile temper was legendary at court and a man whom Anne of Cleves feared above all others. A King who would eventually come to despise her when she proved unable to conceive a son and heir. Anne of Cleves bore Henry's bitter recriminations, accusations and false witness with as much quiet grace as she could - finally agreeing to grant Henry a divorce.
Katherine Howard was a woman in love - but certainly not with the diseased old man who made her his queen and bedded her night after night. In desperation, and to avoid the constant threat of the axe, Katherine Howard turns for help to Jane Rochford - otherwise known as Jane Boleyn - the Boleyn wife whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. In an effort to save their lives, a dangerous and treasonous plan is concocted, but to no avail. Throughout Europe, the name Jane Rochford is synonymous with malice, jealousy and twisted lust - however, her ultimate Boleyn inheritance was a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.
I absolutely loved this book. I've always been fascinated by the reign of Henry VIII, and especially the lives of his six wives. The setting of The Boleyn Inheritance really highlighted for me the fear that Henry's subjects lived with constantly and how tyrannical Henry's rule had become. I give this book an A+! Philippa Gregory is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
Pub. Date: December 2006
* Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing
* Sold by: Simon & Schuster Digital Sales
* Format: eBook, 528pp
* Sales Rank: 4,580
* Series: Philippa Gregory Tudor Series, #3
* Product Browse duration in Minutes: 60
* File Size: 603 KB
* ISBN-13: 9780743298544
* ISBN: 0743298543
The Boleyn Inheritance is told from three points of view: Jane Boleyn (wife to the deceased Thomas), Anne of Cleaves (Henry's fourth wife), and Katherine Howard (Henry's fifth wife). Jane is the expert maid in waiting. She is called upon by the Duke of Norfolk to keep an eye on the new queen and report back to him anything that she does. Jane owes her life to the Duke, and so she is in his pocket to survive. Jane poses as a friend to the new queen Anne and attempts to be in her confidence as the story continues. However, Jane begins to like the queen and when plots against her begin to crop up, she has doubts whether she can put another queen to death as she did to her sister-in-law Anne Boleyn. The thoughts of Anne Boleyn and her husband Thomas haunt her throughout the book. Jane poses as the wise older woman who has been through quite a lot, but her transformation towards the end shows that she still has a lot to learn.
Anne of Cleaves is considered an unreformed woman by her family, but she is chosen to become the new queen of England because an alliance between England and Cleaves would be helpful. She does not speak a word of English, but as she moves into her new life, she learns quickly. Because of her troubles at home, she has no idea how to please the king in bed. This leaves their marriage unconsummated. Henry also detests her after a mix-up in one of his games. Although she is a pure and strong girl, she often finds herself bending to the will of the men that she finds in charge of her. When she is dethroned, she becomes a sister to the king and finds herself much happier in the countryside. She loves England, but counts herself lucky to be one of the few that survives King Henry's marriage.
Lastly, Katherine Howard is a young, flirty girl. Her beauty catches the king's eye and he courts her while he is married to Anne and Katherine is a maid in waiting. Katherine's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, wants to see the king and Katherine wed. He schemes and encourages the flirtations until it actually happens. Katherine is a flighty little girl and only measures things in what materials she receives. She often begins her narration with a list of what she owns. This is probably because she is only around fifteen when she marries the king. She attempts to please him in bed, but it is difficult work when he is so old, fat, and wounded. Finally, with the help of Jane, she takes on a lover. Then, as with Anne Boleyn, all hell breaks loose and the king attempts to kill everyone.
I know that I keep saying this, but I have been on a historical fiction kick. I really enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl (book only, movie was terrible), so I decided that I would continue with this series. As time moves on, I am hoping to go through each one. Gregory has a way with characters. It's like you get to see into their souls and travel inside their heads with them. Anne of Cleaves was by far my favorite character in this story, but all three women were beautifully illustrated. As I was reading, I could feel my moods shift with the difference in narration. Katherine was always bubbly and it made me want to read her parts faster as if I was speaking them like a young girl would in a quicker, happier tone. The plot is predictable, but that shouldn't surprise anyone. It is nothing new what happened within King Henry's court. Her books are much more interesting than anything else that I have read about him though. I'm sure that she has taken liberties with parts of history to make her tales more enchanting and personable, but I would recommend it to people who want a glimpse of what he was like. Gregory's tales are definitely worth a reread and they are something that I will keep upon my shelves.
I really enjoyed this book. I have read many books on this time period and this one is one of my favorites. I found myself really feeling bad for Anne of Cleaves and I was not a big fan of the other 2 main characters, Katherine Howard and Jane Seymour, but I still enjoyed reading their parts. It is a very easy read, some of these books are complicated to keep up with but this one is not. I would highly recommend it.