The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought this was one of the Plantagenet/Tudor novels that I would skip. I'm so glad I didn't. I loved it, just as I have loved all of Philippa Gregory's novels that I have read so far.
This is the story of three very different women whose stories overlap. First, there is Anne of Cleves. Historically, not much is known about her except that she left her home country to marry Henry VIII, and even after their marriage was over, she stayed in England and loved the country she eventually called home. She is characterized as the sister of a Duke who was overbearing and a mother who cared little for her. On her first day at Henry's court, a fateful incident takes place that sets the tone for her entire, though short, marriage to Henry. Does she have misgivings on her way to meet the King of England, the one who disowned one wife, beheaded another, and lost one during childbirth? Perhaps, but she is the essence of propriety and regalia.
Next is Katherine Howard whose story begins when she is a maid-in-waiting for Anne's court. Vain, beautiful, spoiled, and lusty, Katherine catches King Henry's eyes immediately, and he sets his sights on having her for his wife. She loves all the gifts, the attention, the treatment, but she doesn't love Henry. Instead, she falls for a young man in Henry's court, much like her cousin Anne Boleyn who lost her head on the chopping block.
A woman who is part of both Anne's and Katherine's courts, as well as the court when her sister-in-law was Queen, Lady Rochford, also called Jane Boleyn. Jane was married to Anne Boleyn's brother and gave testimony against them both that led to their demise. Back at court after Jane Seymour's death, Lady Jane has her sights set on wealth and a title. She acted as a spy when Anne of Cleves was Queen, at the ready to give testimony against her if necessary. And during Katherine's time as Queen, she assisted Katherine in treasonous affairs against the King.
This book is versatile. There is happiness and sadness, anger and lust, power and betrayal, shame, heartache, temptation, and triumph. I just wish Gregory would stop using the phrase, "It's early days." But seriously, her writing is so easy to read and so addicting. This book is hard to put down!
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