Though a big fan of Gregory's books I hadn't yet read The Boleyn Inheritance as it centres around 3 women who were fairly unknown to me. That all changed once I'd seen the TV series The Tudors (staring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Natalie Dormer and . many more). I loved the show (though recognised its many deviances from the historical facts as we mostly know them), and it introduced me to some of Henry's lesser known wives. While Jonathan Rhys Meyers is hot as hell and Natalie Dormer stole my heart completely in her portrayal of Anne Boleyn, Joss Stone blew me away with her character Anne of Cleves. This demure, purehearted woman treated with such unkindness and yet proving herself to be the strongest, kindest creature in the court was just aweinspiring - and I wanted to know more. Meanwhile Tamzin Merchant made me uncomfortable prancing around naked as Katherine Howard - mainly because Katherine was only 14-15 years old and Tamzin's body reflects that (though she was over 20 when she played the part).
After seeing the show it became obvious to me that I needed to know more and The Boleyn Inheritance was the perfect fit. It is once again an incredibly well written book by Gregory and the characters came alive before me. It's split into 3 points of views, changing every chapter between Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard.
While it took me over half the book to realise that I'd somehow mixed up Jane Boleyn (also known as Lady Rochford) with Catherine Parr, Henry's sixth and last wife, it had me hook, line and sinker with Anne and Katherine.
It portrays a far more cautious Anne than the TV series - an Anne faced with the reality of her situation. She'd insulted the king, their marriage was bad/non-existant and we all know how Henry gets rid of annoying wives.
Katherine Howard turned out to be not just a dimwitted girl who's "lucky" enough to get with the king - there's far more to her. She's dimwitted, yes, but she knows it. Her naivety was so endearing to me and I ended up feeling very sorry for her fate.
Jane Boleyn was the wildcard for me and her character is magnificently written. She was married to George Boleyn - Anne Boleyn's brother, who was executed alongside Anne under accusation of adultery and incest amongst other things. Jane's story is so complex and so bitter. She was so clever and yet so blind. Overly ambitious or actually mad?
Another noticeably point was the description of Henry VIII. It's borderline impossible to make Jonathan Rhys Meyers look bad so I had in my head this gorgeous man, but in reality he was morbidly obese, he reeked of rot from an infected leg wound and he was insane. The King of England was mad and his rule was absolute. The court lived in continuous fear as his mood changed as the wind blows. One day he's sort of Protestant, the next kind of Catholic. The population was repressed and killed for the tiniest offences.
Also, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, (Katherine's uncle and Jane's relation through marriage) was an absolute scumbag.
All in all, a 5 star experience, that gave me such an insight into how these 3 women (possibly) experienced the Tudor Court.
|The Boleyn Inheritance
518 pages / published in 2006
|Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2013|
For some obscure forgotten reason I've only reviewed 3 of the 6 fantastic books Gregory have written about one of my all time favourite places in time - the Tudor Court. I have read all her books though and I can heartily recommend them to anyone interested. She takes fact and adds in enough fiction and emotion to make some of the most engaging historical reads of my life.
The Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory, sorted in historical order