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The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: paulpry118
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
Date: 07/12/08, updated on 28/06/09 (130 review reads)
Advantages: Great Read
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.
The RRP of this book is £7.99 is is available anywhere that sells books. If you shop around on the internet you can find it for £3.94 at Tesco or £3.99 at Amazon.
This review can also be found on other review sites.
Many thanks for reading. Anna
Summary: A great historical read by a brilliant author.