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The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: Juliet101
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
Date: 02/08/10, updated on 02/08/10 (83 review reads)
Advantages: Historical novel, writing
This is a historical novel set in the Tudors reign with Henry VIII was on the throne. The story is the sequel to The Other Boleyn Girl which was also made into a film starring Eric Bana, Scarlet Johanson and Natalie Portman. The book is written by historical writer Phillipha Gregory. She has also written other books about the Tudors as well as other periods in history.
I like historical novels but I've always preferred the Victorian era and I don't really like novels based on the monarchy. So why would I read a book about the Tudors? Well, I watched The Other Boleyn Girl as my friend wanted to watch it and I surprisingly liked it. I am not a fan of the Tudors and especially Henry VIII. I didn't want to read The Other Boleyn Girl because I already knew the story so I got the sequel.
The book begins after the death of Jane Seymour (after child birth) in 1539. Henry VIII needs a wife and he is advised on Anne of Cleves by Thomas Cromwell. He has paintings sent to him and he agrees to the marriage. Jane Boleyn is summoned back to court by her uncle the Duke of Norfolk to be a maid in waiting for the Queen. She has wanted to go back to court ever since the tragic death of her husband George and sister Anne Boleyn. She believes that this will help her to get rid of the scandal of her husband and sister-in-law. Katherine Howard, a niece of the Duke of Norfolk is also summoned to court as a maid in waiting. She cares only for the dancing and the young men that will be at court. All three of these women have come to Henry VII's court to find a better life, little do they know that only danger and fear awaits them.
Jane Boleyn constantly makes references to the death of her husband and her sister in law and I think she was forever haunted with their deaths. This is most probably because it was the evidence that she gave that sent them to their deaths. She does say that she had no choice, it was either them or her and she saved herself. I suspect that jealousy played a major part in the reason why she decided to give evidence as she talks about how George never paid her any attention and he was always at Anne's side. Her ambition to rise in the court and she does not care who gets hurt in the process. She does show remorse for her actions and she seems to feel that she has no choice in certain matters.
Out of all the characters I found Jane Boleyn to be the worst. She continually does the immoral or wrong thing throughout the book and she shows signs of knowing this but she continues to do this. The fact that she was the reason husband who she says she adores and her sister in law die made me think this woman is capable of anything. She even says that Mary could have saved them and that she is not the only one to blame. It is very hard to feel sorry for this woman who only has herself to blame for her downfall. She is adamant however to turn her life around. Is this possible?
Anne of Cleves wants to escape her dominating brother and her disapproving mother. She has been brought up in a very strict protestant home. Her brother sees her marriage to Henry VIII as a route securing a protestant England. At first I thought of Anne as a desperate young girl as she would rather marry a man old enough to be her father to escape her impossible family. Her English causes her many problems, especially with the King. Her interpreter is not always at her side and she finds the language and the way of the English life hard to conform to. She slowly becomes a favoured Queen by her household and the people. She saw herself as the women who would change England for the better. Can she survive as Henry's fourth wife to this?
She seems to live her life doing whatever the men in her life tell her to do. Even though she is strong willed and stubborn she is always being controlled. First it was her brother and now the king. She escaped from one hell and entered another. I felt sorry for her but because she is strong minded and aware of how to act I didn't see she was in more danger than Katherine who is totally wild and has no sense of anything. Her brothers treatment of her was atrocious and without just cause. Towards the end she is seen to be much happier and content.
Katherine Howard is described as very young girl that cares only for herself and material possessions. She is also wild, child like and rather innocent. She does not know of the danagers of the court, even though she fears the king. I think that she had very little guidance and being so young she was not protected either. I think she must have felt very lonely even though she had many friends. She would do whatever was asked of her and that ultimately led her do things that she wouldn't have done if she was older and wiser.
The tyranny of the King and his volatile nature really shines through and everyone around him fear for their lives. He becomes paranoid and fearful of his power and no one, absolutely no one is safe. Gregory's description of his mental and physical state is that of an old, ill and deranged fool. He is his own enemy. I cant seem to understand why anyone would want to work with or marry him.
The Duke of Norfolk is the character that really annoyed me because he would use members of his own family as pawns and not care for the grave consequences that follow. He is the man that causes the death of so many by twisting the truth or manipulating those around him. I wouldn't want him as an uncle.
The book is laid out so that each chapter is told in the first person by either Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves or Katherine Howard. I thought this layout was quite strange and didn't know if it would work well but the writing flowed and the chapters where short. I liked this style of writing because I felt that I got to know all of the characters well and sometimes the same event would be told from all 3 of the characters perspective.
Gregory really brings all the characters to life. The pace of the book was good and considering it was over 500 pages long I thought that I would get bored at some point. The truth is I couldn't put it down, I just wanted to keep reading and many books don't have this effect of me. I was totally absorbed in the book. She really is a skilled writer. I can vividly image all the characters and the settings. The writing was really easy to understand and there was nothing complicated.
I can hardly remember much about the Tudors as I did not take History for GCSE and so I didn't know the plot. I'm not sure if knowing the plot will make reading the book less interesting but I thought it was excellent.
I don't like the Tudor era and I still found this book entertaining and absorbing. I toughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend that anyone interested in history of any era should read it. It may be advisable to read The other Boleyn Girl first because it sets the scene for this book. There are also many references to the prequel in this book.
I shall be looking out for more books by Gregory.
Summary: Tudor court brought to life