Newest Review: ... the freedom she really deserved. It might not be an exact reflection upon the real Anne Of Cleves, but this novel really does make me ... more
An inheritance you don't want to be associated with
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: katyj10
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
Advantages: Good historical novel
Disadvantages: Characters were good but sometimes a bit much
This is a review of the book "The Boleyn Inheritance" by Philippa Gregory. I'm increasingly becoming a big fan of this author and am working my way through a stash of her novels, but I try not to read them back to back as the genre is very 'historical' as you may expect.
A little about the storyline
The Boleyn Inheritance follows three women: Jane Boleyn, who married the Boleyn brother of Anne (Henry VIII's second wife) called George. She is now widowed after he 'lost his head' at the Tower with Anne and she misses him dreadfully. She fills the void with time at Court, loyal to whomever the queen may be at a given time.
The second woman the book follows is the new Queen (fourth one of Henry's), the German bred Anne of Cleves. She is painted as plain and dowdy and totally out of her depth in Court married to Henry. Despite this, she sees the bright side of things and tries to do everything she thinks a Queen should do, but darn it, she just cannot get rid of her virginity and that's no good when England needs a second in line heir to carry on the King's line.
The third woman is a flibbertigibbet of a girl, aged only 16, Katherine Howard is brought to court as a Lady in Waiting to the new Queen, Anne, but she manages early on to catch the King's eye and oops! he doesn't want Anne any more, he wants the fun and vivacious (and totally dumb) Katherine.
You may already know what happens to most of Henry VIII's wives. Well without spoiling the ending, you won't be disappointed with this one if you like a bit of a gory finish!!
What's it like?
So... you get the gist. Three very different characters telling their stories of Court in the year 1539. If you've read other books by P Gregory, you'll recognise her style instantly. I really do think she sticks loosely to the facts and then weaves them into a story to make it compulsive reading. There are some beautiful illustrations in the cover of my hardback version which give an idea of what Anne and Katherine may have looked like back in the day.
By now, the King's getting old and is quite ill with a gammy leg and whilst he hasn't lost his eye for the ladies, he's not the catch he once was. The court do their best to keep him cheerful but his foul moods are getting worse and everyone knows that if you get on the wrong side of the king he's likely to have your head cut off!
I think sometimes the characters are really over cooked, particularly Katherine. Now I know she is meant to be silly and frivolous but sometimes it's a bit irritating. She starts many of her chapters with "Now what do I have" and then lists all her dresses, jewels and belongings which, fair enough are what is most important to her but really, you'd think she'd stop caring once she got to the position where she can have anything she wants as queen. On the flip side, Anne of Cleves was quite boring and again although this was her character, you just wanted her to do something that wasn't so drab and dull.
I thought this was a fine read and am already glancing at the next Gregory book in the pile to be read. Once I picked this up, I couldn't put it down. Whilst you appreciate that the author has to develop the characters' stories to make them readable it just makes you feel like you're there at the time. I love it!
Not about the book but it amused me: What I loved most about this book was the fact that I got it off ebay and it had a little note hidden in it from the original owner, it was a gift (but looked like it hadn't been read!) and it said: "Dear Grandma, Merry Christmas hope you are well in the UK. We are thinking of you on the beach in Australia, enjoying our barbecue." Charming... they got to go to Oz and all she got was a book she didn't want! LOL!!
Summary: Read it if you like to read about the Tudors