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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Boleyn Inheritance By Philipa Gregory

Three Women Who Share One Fate: The Boleyn Inheritance
Anne of Cleves
She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses.
 Katherine Howard
She catches the king's eye within moments of arriving at court, setting in motion the dreadful machine of politics, intrigue, and treason that she does not understand. She only knows that she is beautiful, that men desire her, that she is young and in love -- but not with the diseased old man who made her queen, beds her night after night, and killed her cousin Anne. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe.
Jane Rochford
She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. She is the trusted friend of two threatened queens, the perfectly loyal spy for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and a canny survivor in the murderous court of a most dangerous king. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.

The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory has brought a vanished world to life -- the whisper of a silk skirt on a stone stair, the yellow glow of candlelight illuminating a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower Green below the newly built scaffold. In The Boleyn Inheritance Gregory is at her intelligent and page-turning best
If you are intrigued as I am in the time that King Henry VIII reigned over England, you will enjoy many of Philipa Gregory’s books about the Tudors.  Of course, the most famous, The Other Boleyn Girl, is about Anne Boleyn and her sister, Mary. So famous in fact it was made into a movie.  I got even more into Henry VIII’s history when I watched Showtime’s The Tudors with dream Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  When I read the overview about this book, The Boleyn Inheritance, I knew that I wanted to read this one completely out of order and start it first.  I knew about Anne Boleyn stealing Henry away from his mistress (her sister Mary) and his Queen, Catherine of Aragon and him eventually falling for Jane Seymour while Anne was up for treason and going to beheaded. But I wanted to know more about Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. For this simple reason, I picked up this book.
This book is a narrative from 3 women in King Henry’s life: Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Jane Boleyn (yes, another one!) Anne of Cleves becomes Henry’s wife after the death of Jane Seymour. Anne is simply picked based off of a picture that was painted of her, and unfortunately, many claims were made that the painter made her a lot prettier than she was. It was said that Henry would say that she had the face of a horse.   Unfortunately, Anne was unable to meet Henry’s needs and it was soon that he was finding ways to divorce her, luckily when it did happen, he granted her a home in England and they supposedly became friends , which was much better than losing her head on the block.  Katherine Howard came to court around the age of 14 and was one of Anne of Cleves ladies-in-waiting. She eventually has the King’s fancy and becomes his next wife. But alas, she is a young girl who fancies young boys, not an older king who has infections in his legs so bad that he smells. He was not the King of his younger days. She decides to have an affair behind Henry’s back and you know what the means, off to the block.  Finally, there is Jane Boleyn. She was married to Anne and Mary Boleyn’s brother George, who was beheaded along with Anne. She is a lady-in-waiting for Anne of Cleves and for Katherine Howard (who was related to the Boleyn’s, Henry really did not learn his lesson). She becomes a tool for her uncle to make sure that Katherine Howard could have her fun, but try to hide it from the King. Of course, that did not work for long, and she meet the same ill-fate as Anne and George Boleyn.
I really enjoyed reading this story as each chapter flipped back and forth between each character. You felt their joy, their sorrow, and their panic as life was swiftly changing for them. To live life with a King, you never knew what your chances of survival were. I was really able to make a connection to each character, even young Katherine Howard, and could understand the emotions that they were going through. I would highly recommend reading this book. However, if you are not familiar with the family, it might be best to start out with the first book in the series, The Constant Princess. If you don’t want to read the series, the movie based off of The Other Boleyn girl will give you a back history as well as the show The Tudors that Showtime aired, which will give you even more.  

Anne of Cleves

Katherine Howard

Jane Seymour