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Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,111 ratings  ·  251 reviews
In a life of extraordinary drama, Jane Boleyn was catapulted from relative obscurity to the inner circle of King Henry VIII. As powerful men and women around her became victims of Henry’s ruthless and absolute power, including her own husband and sister-in-law, Queen Anne Boleyn, Jane’s allegiance to the volatile monarchy was sustained and rewarded. But the price for her l...more
Hardcover, 379 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa GregoryThe Constant Princess by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
Best Books About Tudor England
33rd out of 394 books — 1,131 voters
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Children of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia FraserJane Boleyn by Julia FoxElizabeth by David Starkey
Tudor non-fiction
4th out of 59 books — 37 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kara
Julia Fox swings back and forth between brilliantly well researched presentation of the lesser known members of King Henry’s court, to a style of faux history that made me wince. When she has facts, she does a great job presenting the rise and fall of five of Henry’s queens through a brand new lens that was very informative and thought provoking. However, when she runs out of records, she brazenly makes guesses, saying things like “dance lessons were Jane’s favorite pastime,” without a shred of...more
Rebecca
Dec 17, 2008 Rebecca rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are newcomers to Tudor history
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but was sorely disappointed.
Jane Boleyn, is something of a shadowy figure, so I assumed that this book would bring forth lots of new information and insights into her characterand circumstances.

Unfortunately all this book did was rehash the well worn stories of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard's downfalls, with which the story of Jane is so closely linked.

The information specifically relating to Jane could have been presented in a short research...more
Jen
First off...just found out I can do this through facebook...v. cool

Okay now to the book

It's basically "hmm this what I think happened..." "and Jane was a 16th century woman so she would..." and then "she got her head chopped off."

Women in the 16th century, unless they were women in extraordinary circumstances, were simply not well documented. And Jane just wasn't. And we just don't know. But to say in the absence of not knowing that we should assume she was a poor maligned victim of circumstance...more
Wealhtheow
To relate the story of Jane Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's sister-in-law, Fox did a great deal of research. Unfortunately, there was apparently little to unearth. In over 300 pages, Jane is quoted exactly twice: in a letter to Cromwell and a few sentences from her testimony regarding Katherine Howard. That's it. We don't know when she was born, where she was raised, how she was educated or even what she looked like. Even her last words from the scaffold (she was executed for her part in Katherine Howard'...more
Elinora
There is a reason that there are eleventy-gazillion non-fiction books about Anne Boleyn, and only one (as far as I know) devoted to her sister-in-law Jane Rochford. While Anne’s life is fairly well documented after her arrival at the English court, the known facts of Jane Rochford’s life are of such limited number they are better suited to a brief Wikipedia page than a full length book.

This is not a book about Jane Rochford; it is a book about the author’s suppositions. Jane probably did this,...more
Laurean
When first faced with this book, my mind was intrigued. I was hoping that finally I would get a more indepth introspective look at the motivations and movements behind the choices and life of that 'infamous bawd Jane Rochford'.

Indeed, if you are new in your knowledge about the Tudor-era England, this book will be of some use and give you an interesting viewpoint to the life of Lady Jane Parker, who would become Jane Boleyn aka The Viscountess of Rochford.

If you are not new, such as myself, sadl...more
Maggie
I picked this up because Hilary Mantel spoke well of it in the afterword to "Bring Up The Bodies". The idea is that this is a biography of Jane Boleyn, wife of George Boleyn and sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn. However, Jane herself appears precious little in this account. This is not so much a biography of Jane as a retelling of the rise and fall of the Boleyn and connected families through the lens of what Jane may or may not have possibly seen whilst at court. Again, this is history that reads m...more
MAP
The problem is, there wasn't enough info on Lady Rochford to fill a 50 page book, much less a 300 page book. So 5/6 of the book is either conjecture or information that belongs in other people's biographies, like Anne Boleyn's or Catherine Howard's.
Pete daPixie
The closest I've come to the subject matter of this book is Weir's 'The Lady in the Tower' (2009).
Julia Fox's 'Jane Boleyn-The Infamous Lady Rochford' was published in 2007. Of course, the story of Anne Boleyn, with the enduring mystery of her downfall, has been pored over from the sixteenth century to the present day. But who was Jane Boleyn? Her standing in Tudor history is clearly not as great as Anne's, and the historical documentation trail for Jane is extremely scant. Yet history has been...more
Chrys
I was so excited to read this book to finally get some insight into the motives and life of this historically fascinating yet mysterious woman. Unfortunately, she is apparently mysterious because there is not much information about her in the historical record and this book does little to shed light on who she actually was, what role she played in her husband and sister-in-law's deaths, and what her motives were. Instead this is simply a poorly told history of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard th...more
Cari
Too much conjecture, not enough fact. Despite the title, this book was more about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard than Jane Boleyn, doing little more than tying Jane's whereabouts and functions to the more well-known figures around her. Nearly everything else about her as an individual is guessed by the author, who usually goes for the optimistic view of Jane as a pawn and leaves little room for the fact Jane might just have been a bad, if not somewhat dumb, human being. And, as many others hav...more
Stephanie
I think Julia Fox did an amazing job with this book. I will be the first to admit a great deal of the work was conjecture but Jane Boleyns life was not well documented. Fox obviously put a great deal of effort into researching what little information is available about Jane and then to add to her theory she researched the norms and expectations of the social and political environment in which Jane existed.

I had no problem with the author making certain logical assumptions based on this informat...more
Stefanie
A paper, stretched into a book, about a person who even with very thorough research by the author has left little source material for historians. Often it is more a story of Anne Boleyn and the other queens Jane Boleyn has served, than about the protagonist herself. This is to be expected with a book this size about a woman who has not left enough material to warrant a whole biography by herself, but one wonders why this was turned into a book in the first place.

When the author does come back t...more
Sandi
So far, I'm astounded by how little paper and ink is devoted to Jane compared to her sister-in-law, Anne. George and Anne have been put to death and there hasn't been a single word--even conjectural--about the relationship between George and Jane! If no relationship can be deduced--despite rumors that a. George was gay or b. George raped his wife on their wedding night, then SAY SO.

We know more about Jane's ancestor's than we know about her. If (for example) no physical description survives, the...more
di
Aug 11, 2009 di rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to di by: book group
Shelves: book-group-2009
I had a hard time seeing this as Jane's story. There just didn't seem to be enough hard documentation of Jane Boleyn's life to make a really good biography. While Fox did a good job of constructing her life based on roll calls & invitation lists, anything specific to Jane (her feelings, her impressions, etc.) was all based on supposition. So she never bounced out of the page in any real-life way for me.

Having said that, I really learned a lot about the Boleyn family, Henry VIII & the tim...more
Wodandis
It's really hard to rate this book! The author's writing is lyrical, descriptive and thoroughly enjoyable, and she gives a vivid picture of the details of daily life for a noblewoman attached to the court of Henry VIII,. However, what other reviewers have said is true: most of this is pure conjecture. The book is filled with statements such as "Jane may have been there with Anne" or "Jane must have felt..." In reality, we really cannot know much about what Jane did or felt, definitively, and we...more
suffiyan saleem
Ok I want to trace down the author and beg her to stop writing because what she assumes, we all know! she moved around the lives of George, Anne and Catherine and Jane was "probably" there doing what other close confidantes were doing!! Didn't like the book and it didn't help me to know "that Bawd" better!
Correen

I did not know much about Jane Boleyn. I selected the book because I had recently read some other books about this period of English history and thought this one would help a few of my major gaps in knowledge.

The book accomplished its purpose and introduced me to a controversy that I did not know existed -- what was Jane's role in the fall of Anne Boleyn and other events of that time? The controversy is not settled for records are not clear. Now I have another piece of history about which more...more
Iset
I finally got around to picking up Julia Fox’s Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford, after having heard good things about the book. As far as I’m aware, it’s the first and only biography of Jane Parker. I was intrigued by and attracted to the book because for many years now I’ve been aware of the misconception that Jane Parker was the individual who witnessed against her husband, George Boleyn, and her sister-in-law, Queen Anne Boleyn, on the concocted charge of incest. Although there is no d...more
Tara
I am really eager to read this, although I've only read the first chapter and I am a little apprehensive already. I think part of the problem lies in that I'm expecting a pretty big shebang out of this book: it's going to take a lot to convince me that Jane Boleyn/Rochford has been unfairly pilloried by history. My other problem is I'm afraid this book will be more speculation than history. I feel sure that if there was sufficient information on Jane, there would have been a book by now. I think...more
Caroline
I've been trying to reconstruct the process by which this book was published, and I've come to the conclusion that a few years ago, somebody was buying everything with the name "Boleyn" in it. The part that is *actually* about Jane Boleyn (the wife of George Boleyn, who was executed by Henry VIII along with his sister/Henry's wife Anne Boleyn) -- is basically a bit of the last few chapters and then some close reading of historical sources in the epilogue. There is *maybe* enough material here fo...more
John
May 11, 2008 John rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction and Tudor-era buffs
This one might beget a new sub-genre: historical extrapolation. Fox starts with the (somewhat scant) factual historical record mentioning Jane directly, and proceeds to fill out the narrative with Tudor doings of which Jane was "likely" to have been a part. This is a case where listening to the audio may have been a different experience - Fox goes "into Jane's head" (to use a writing term) often enough that the book straddles a gray area between well-researched non-fiction, and outright "histori...more
Elaine
I must say I agree with most of the reviews here regarding this book. It really was more of a rehashing of the main characters involved, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard with Jane in the background. Obviously very little is known about Jane Boleyn and really Julia Fox didn't seem to uncover anything new. Philippa Gregory has been criticised for taking great liberties with history but at least she writes fiction. Here Julia Fox was writing a nonfiction, biographical account...more
judy
Nice try. I'm sure many of us love the idea of getting to know Lady Rochford. Unfortunately, she left very little to remember her by. Instead of scrapping research already done, Fox tried to finesse the absence of facts by making assumptions about Lady R. "She might have"--"She had to have known"--"We can assume". I can understand how the author just couldn't bring herself to discard hours of research already done and abandon the idea of writing the book. I'd probably try to salvage it too. I'm...more
Cindy
Mar 30, 2009 Cindy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Because of Jane Boelyn's position as the sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn, the first part of this book was very tied in to Anne's famous story.

However, the second part of the story really delved into what happened during Jane's life after her husband, and Anne's brother George, was executed. It was interesting to learn more about how Jane fought for her jointure, and how she secured a position at court in the households of Henry VIII's subsequent queens. What a shame for her the she should suffer t...more
Robin
Jane Boleyn has gotten a pretty raw deal in historical fiction, and Julia Fox attempts to dispel some of the myths surrounding the "infamous" Lady Rochford. Though Fox was working with limited material (Jane Boleyn not having been high ranking enough to merit her own biographer), she succeeds in showing us that there is more to the story than we see in The Other Boleyn Girl and similar fictional interpretations of the events. It reads like a fiction novel, and is a must read for anyone who share...more
Susan
There is not much written in the historical record about Jane Boleyn who was the sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn. Jane's husband George was executed with Anne for treason and "unnatural" acts. George and Anne were accused of incest and the court relied on the testimony of Jane. The big question is "did Jane willingly seek to get rid of her husband and Anne or was her testimony taken out of context to be used against Anne and George.

The majority of the book is drawn from records about Anne Boleyn a...more
Bunny
I did my best to quit my Tudors obsession cold turkey. But once in awhile, I see something and can't stop myself.

The reviews for this are kind of meh, and what I've heard so far features the words "probably" and "very well could have" and blah blah blah. But who cares! TUDORS!
----

So, here's the trouble with this book.

If you're picking up a book on Lady Rochford, you have some semblance of an idea of Tudor history. Anyone wanting to learn more about Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn's six fingers ("Wh...more
MeriBeth
Ms. Fox's biography of Jane Boleyn, one of the lesser known women of the Tudor Court, suffers from two major problems. The first, common to books about many medieval women, is the lack of factual information on the woman in question. The second is a tendency of the author to drift into supposition and fictions to pad out the material. The book swings between telling Jane's story and those of Henry VIII's queens who Jane served as Lady-in-Waiting. In many ways this is not a biography of Jane Bole...more
Tina
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Biography
Julia Fox was born in London. From a very early age, she set her heart on becoming a teacher and taught in a public and private schools in north London. She left teaching to concentrate on researching and writing 'Jane Boleyn'. Her interests include music, theatre, walking and cooking. She lives in London with her husband, the Tudor historian John Guy, and their three cats.
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