Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: The Boleyn Inheritance

Here's a fact about me- I love Tudor history. When I was younger I was all about 'The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I' which gave me my first perception of Henry VIII. A supposed overly obese, sullen old man who sometimes didn't like his daughter. Then I happened on 'The Other Boleyn Girl' which gave me a look at young Henry VIII who was supposedly super charismatic and attractive. That spark my curiosity enough that I've read a couple of small biographers on Henry and the time. I'm really interested in Alison Weir's books which all seem to be about Tudor England.
Anyway...the review
The Boleyn Inheritance follows three women- Anne of Cleaves, Henry's fourth wife, Jane Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's sister-in-law whose testimony put Anne and her brother to death and Katherine Howard, Anne of Cleaves maid in waiting and Henry's fifth wife.
The book starts from Jane's perspective and I didn't like how it opened. It seemed at the time Gregory was making Jane out to be a misunderstood heroine when in The Other Boleyn Girl she made the character out to be a total creep, no joke. However, as the story progressed Gregory showed that Jane painted that picture of herself and that no one else really believed it.
The story overall was well done. She used Anne of Cleaves perspective to show what Henry was doing to the church and the burnings and hangings that happened from his paranoia. In the author's note Gregory stated that she wanted to dispel the myths of Anne of Cleaves being ugly and Katherine Howard being stupid. She painted Katherine as a young girl (she was 15 when she married the king) who only wanted pretty things and to have a romance.


Anne of Cleave portrait sort of dispels the myth of her being ugly and Gregory's reasoning for that rumor was the king didn't like her because she rejected him when he first met her disguised and a homeless man.
I admire Philippa Gregory as a historical fiction writer because the truth is, we won't really know why things happened in the past; and she does a commendable job making the pieces all fit together in an engaging way

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