The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Paperback, 518 pages
Published 2012 by Harper Collins
This is the story of three women in the Tudor court: Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Howard. Told through each of their perspectives, we see the rise and fall of two more wives of Henry VIII. At this point, Henry VIII is no longer a handsome young prince. He is an aging man with a stinking, festering wound on his leg. He is no longer strong, but limps around on his good leg. Nevertheless, he insists on being treated as he always was–as the most handsome and strongest man in the room. Although nearing 50, he behaves as a spoiled child. This is not only unbecoming in a man, but it is dangerous in a king. This, coupled with his constant paranoia and suspicion, lead to a very dangerous tyrant. Circling in his court are Jane, Anne, and Katherine. Jane is a lady in waiting, as she had been for the last three queens of King Henry. Now she is the lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves, as she is brought from the Netherlands to be the bride of King Henry. These women struggle not only to maintain their place, but also to keep their heads. Literally.
We have been introduced to Jane Boleyn–the wife of George Boleyn–in The Other Boleyn Girl. In The Boleyn Inheritance we see things from her own perspective. Were the Boleyn sibling wrong about her? Or is she simply mad? Anne is a sweet and innocent girl who only wants to be the best Queen she can be. This, however, is difficult after accidentally offending the King. Will she be cast aside? Will she escape with her life? Kitty Howard is the youngest of the three, a frivolous maid in waiting to Anne. She is quite beautiful, however naive, and catches the eye of the king. However, is this a blessing or a curse?
I enjoyed this book. For the most part, it was less salacious than is predecessor, and I appreciated that. I also liked how the story was told through each woman’s point of view. The other Gregory books I have read have been told solely through one POV, so I liked that here she shook things up a bit. This also worked very well for this particular story because it allowed you to not only see the inner workings of each character’s mind, but you could also see how they appeared to the other women. For example, Jane thinks she is always doing the right thing. But, as some question, is she really trustworthy? I thought this book was really good, but I took a point away for the unnecessarily graphic sex scene and sexuality in the last third of the book. It had been really good up until then.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.