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Paperback The Boleyn Inheritance: A Novel (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels) Book

ISBN: 074327251X

The Boleyn Inheritance: A Novel (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels)

(Part of the The Tudor Court (#4) Series and The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels (#10) Series)

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In what may be her finest work, historical fiction novelist Philippa Gregory (who loves the Tudor era at least as much as I do) returns to Henry VIII and his complicated lifestyle with "The Boleyn Inheritance". It is here she finds her voice and a better editor to create the court and the women who compelled it after the death of Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife. In 1998, in his book "The Hours", author Michael Cunningham created a book with three voices, all heroines, in different eras. The characters were brilliantly brought to the screen (in a film that was devastatingly long and depressing) and captured an Academy award for Nicole Kidman and some serious applause for co-stars Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Ed Harris. The writing tool, that of three points of feminine view, has been used many times since then; one memory is the delicious "Mrs. Kimble" by Jennifer Haigh in 2003 where the convention was spiced up in that the three women who tell the tale were all wives of the infamous Mr. Kimble. Gregory has used that device here, and it has improved the story immensely. She chooses to tell the story from the viewpoint of three unlikely and very different women, who were brought together in one place and one time by the demands of the difficult Henry. Anne of Cleves, the young German noble who became Henry's 4th wife, Jane Boleyn, the Lady Rochford who was featured in Gregory's "The Other Boleyn Girl" and Katherine Howard, the poor teenaged girl who enchanted Henry and became his 5th wife, all see the times from different viewpoints. All three captivate in Gregory's novel. You will come away respecting the acts of Anne of Cleves, and by being alternately annoyed and captivated by Kitty Howard (and sad at her horrible demise). But the true genius of Gregory's novel is the third point of view. I hated Jane Parker Boleyn in "The Other Boleyn Girl" for being a vapid, stupid pawn. Jane betrayed her husband, Anne Boleyn's brother, George, and gave the evidence that caused both Anne and George to be killed. In this book, we see how Jane herself is played as a pawn of the Machiavellian uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. Jane understands and hates her betrayal but tries to save her own life, her fortune, and to ultimately try to convince her uncle to find her a future mate. In return, she spies for him, and does his bidding with a variety of machinations she accomplishes in the background, as a lady in waiting to first Anne and then Katherine. And although both see her for what she is, both are compelled to trust her and heed her advice. Late in the book, when confronted with her true nature by the Duke, in a scene so full of verbal brutality that it difficult to read, Jane nevertheless hatches a plan to save herself. Seeing Anne and Kitty through Jane's eyes, (and vice versa) and seeing Henry's evil nature and utter power from the viewpoint of all three women; feeling their fear of death whether they have or have not been true to the crown, leave

Gregory out does herself with this one!

This is a must for lovers of reading anything and everything Tudor. A fascinating look at two of Henry's little known queens, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. This book might be difficult to get into at first if you have no prior knowledge of Henry VIII and his wives, but it's worth sticking with it. I loved the way the author told the story from the viewpoint of Anne, Katherine and Jane Boleyn (who was married to George Bolyen, the first Anne's brother). The characters were brilliantly portrayed and came alive before my eyes. Anne, just trying to stay alive in a court riddled with intrigue, Jane scheming with her uncle to put another Howard on the throne, and Katherine (LOL) the not too bright but very beautiful 15 year old who just wanted to look pretty and have pretty things and be admired by handsome men. There were times I was laughing out loud at Kitty's comments, and the chapters that repeatedly started with another accounting of "what do I have now?", as she counted her jewels and clothes. Through these three women we see Anne and Kitty caught up in something they are helpless to stop, Henry's lusting after young Kitty and his determination to put Anne aside at any cost to have Kitty. Most fascinating of all is the way Henry is portrayed through all three women, and he is terrifying indeed. An absolute ruler, with complete power over all around him and mad as a hatter. And wonderful to see that of all of them, Anne was able to come through the terror unscathed and a free, independent woman. Highly highly recommended.

the perfect winter night's read

Philippa Gregory continues to entertain and beguile with this latest entry to her Tudor-era historical novels, "The Boleyn Inheritance." This time around, she focuses on the tumultuous events that take place (1539-1542) following Jane Seymour's death in childbed, when Henry VIII decides to marry again, only this time he has decided to make a political alliance with the Protestant kingdom of Cleves in order to check the threatening Catholic alliance of France and Spain. "The Boleyn Inheritance" concentrates on what occurs because of this decision, as seen through the eyes of three of the women most effected by the events -- Anne of Cleves, the Protestant princess that Henry marries; Katherine Howard, the vivacious and lively young English beauty that Henry falls for; and Jane Boleyn, the widow of George Boleyn, whose testimony sent her husband and her infamous sister-in-law, Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife, to the execution block. Believe me, if you're in on the lookout for a well written and absorbing page turner, "The Boleyn Inheritance" will definitely satisfy. In 1539, Anne of Cleves, prepares herself for marriage to one of the most powerful men in Europe, Henry VIII of England, who has already been married three times -- once to Catherine of Aragon, whom he divorced and broke from the Catholic Church in order to marry the tempestuous and beguiling Anne Boleyn, whom he later beheaded on the suspicion that she was playing him false, and lastly to Jane Seymour who gave him the son he so devoutly wished for before expiring herself. It is not exactly the kind of marriage that most princesses would dream of, but then Anne's situation at home is hardly an ideal one. How was Anne to know that she had exchanged the firing pan for the fire? For once in England, she finds herself alone, without a proper understanding of the English language or the customs; and worse, that her new husband, Henry, dislikes her at first sight, and immediately makes his disdain known. It also soon becomes evident that Henry has taken a liking to one of her ladies in-waiting, the beautiful and vivacious Katherine Howard, and that the old monster is looking for a way out of his unwanted marriage to Anne. Has Anne come all the way to England only to face the threat of the axe like the previous Queen Anne? With few friends, and practically no one to rely on, Anne will need all her wits and a lot of luck in order to keep her neck and her good name intact... Philippa Gregory doesn't exactly cover new ground here -- "The Boleyn Inheritance" covers much of the same ground that many casual historians are familiar with. What a brilliant idea then to make one of the chief protagonists of this novel, Jane Boleyn, a woman who has been reviled for her part in sending her husband and her sister-in-law to the execution block! And what a good notion it was to show all the backroom intrigues of the Duke of Norfolk, et al in their quest for the upper hand as seen through Jane's eyes. It ad

"We are all players in this game, but we do not choose our own moves."

Anne of Cleves. Katherine Howard. Jane Rochford. These three women share an inheritance born of deceit and political ambition, cast upon a stage with monarch Henry VIII, a man who has deluded himself into believing he is the direct recipient of God's word. By the time Henry has given Anne Boleyn over to the court for execution, he is infected with a persistent madness that touches all those around him. Advised by the Duke of Norfolk, who raised two Howard women to the throne of England only to see them die and the pliant inquisitors who do the king's bidding, Henry has become a terror: "He is a danger... be warned." In this fascinating novel, Gregory reveals the inner lives of Anne, Katherine and Jane, their dreams and terrors, interpreting their lives from a female perspective and their place in history, ever at the mercy of powerful men. Not long after Jane Seymour dies in childbirth, Henry arranges a marriage with Anne of Cleves in 1539. Anne arrives at court unable to speak any language but German; her lack of communication causes a faux pas that costs her Henry's enmity for the duration of their marriage and nearly her life. Fortunately for Anne, Henry is anxious to put her aside to wed Katherine Howard, a fifteen-year-old in the queen's entourage who takes his fancy, allowing the aging king to imagine his youthful manhood reinvigorated. Katherine is clearly a fool, but ignorant of the dangers of court life, falling into a trap of the Howard's making, left to fend for herself when the king turns against her. Lady-in-waiting to both queens, Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn and sister-in-law of Anne, gave evidence against brother and sister, thereby saving her own head in lieu of theirs. A convenient and loyal pawn of the Duke of Norfolk, Jane does his bidding in an attempt to secure her future no matter the cost to the queens she serves. Anne is stolid, Germanic in temperament and not pleasing to Henry, yet the most fortunate, her stodgy ways separating her from Henry's wrath once he has put her aside as wife. When he desires Katherine, Anne is only worried for the girl's lack of common sense. Jane Rochford is the most challenging in her self-delusion and easy complicity with the Duke's plans, rationalizing her behavior, resisting to the end the shame of her existence. In the voices of Anne, Katherine and Jane, the story spins out over a few years, the court out of control under Henry's truculence and ill-temper, the country in thrall to the whims of a madman. By the time Katherine is beheaded, the women have played their parts, puppets of a megalomaniac and his minions. In this chilling account of life in Henry's court, betrayal abounds, the days harrowing as Jane, Anne and Katherine scramble for security. As hardy, brave and complex as any of their counselors, paramours or agents, Gregory's female characters are infinitely compelling, rising from the pages of history to claim their own inheritance. Luan Gaines/2006.

Compelling tale of two wives

I'm always up for another round with Henry VIII and his wives, so I put myself on the library waiting list for The Boleyn Inheritance. And I'm pleased to report that I enjoyed it immensely. The Boleyn Inheritance is told by Jane, Lady Rochford, widow of the executed George Boleyn; Anne of Cleves; and Katherine "Kitty" Howard. Jane, self-justifying and self-deceiving, is obsessed with her past yet determined to do whatever she has to do in order to restore her life to its former glamour. Anne, no stupid Flanders mare but a sensible, honorable young woman who longs for freedom and respect, finds that she has exchanged the humiliations of her brother's court for the reign of terror of Henry's. Kitty is an airheaded teenager, with an endless capacity to push aside unpleasant realities in favor of her more satisfying interests: young men, jewels, and pretty clothes. Manipulating Jane and Kitty is the sinister Duke of Norfolk, and stalking through all three women's lives is the unpredictable, increasingly tyrannical Henry VIII. Gregory juggles the heroines' stories masterfully. Even when Anne of Cleves is relegated to the background and the machinations of the Duke of Norfolk and Jane take center stage, Anne remains to comment on what she sees around her. She, the outsider, becomes both the moral center of the novel and the narrator on which the reader can most rely for an accurate perception of events. Kitty's adolescent preoccupations and mercurial character are captured wonderfully, while Jane, morally repulsive as she is, has a normalcy about her that keeps us reading her story and wondering at her motivations. There's a certain humor here, often quite dark, that was missing altogether in the very earnest Constant Princess. Much of this comes from Kitty's youthful blatherings ("France would be wonderful, except I cannot speak French, or at any rate only "voila!" but surely they must mostly all speak English? And if not, then they can learn?"), but the more cynical Jane Rochford contributes some memorable lines: "If she declares herself Dereham's wife, then she has not then cuckolded the king but only Dereham; and since his head is on London Bridge, he is in no position to complain." And neither am I. Read this one.
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