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Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  2,941 Ratings  ·  296 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, 319 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 GregoryWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Best Books About Tudor England
34th out of 525 books — 1,352 voters
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Tudor non-fiction
6th out of 91 books — 48 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 17, 2008 Rebecca rated it did not like it
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
Jun 27, 2011 Elinora rated it did not like it
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,
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
Aug 08, 2008 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: english-history
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
Oct 16, 2008 Kara rated it liked it
Shelves: tudor-fact
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
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.
Dec 25, 2010 Laurean rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical-fact
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
Aug 27, 2012 Maggie rated it it was ok
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
May 11, 2009 Cari rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, 2009
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
suffiyan saleem
Mar 15, 2012 suffiyan saleem rated it it was ok
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!
Jul 20, 2010 Chrys rated it it was ok
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
Pete daPixie
Feb 27, 2012 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-tudor, biogs
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
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
Jul 25, 2012 Caroline rated it it was ok
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
Jun 29, 2012 Iset rated it really liked it
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
Aug 11, 2009 di rated it liked it
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
Mar 12, 2012 Sandi rated it liked it
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
Jan 25, 2012 Wodandis rated it liked it
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
May 25, 2013 Stefanie rated it liked it
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
Feb 11, 2009 Tara rated it it was ok
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
Aug 14, 2014 Bunny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2012 Kim rated it did not like it
Shelves: tudor-nonfiction
I saw this book on my library shelf and quickly became excited. Most of what I knew of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, stemmed from the two times in her life that she became a part of the center stage in the court of Henry VIII -- when she gave evidence against her husband and helped send him, his sister, and several other men to the scaffold, and then later when she too faced the axe with another of Henry VIII's queens. So, I was thrilled at the chance to learn more about this controversal woman.

Jul 09, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  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
Oh, what to do with this book…If I were rating simply on the quality and depth of information about Jane Boleyn, this might be a two star review and I absolutely understand other reviewers frustration with the amount of speculation and time taken up with both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard’s stories. But on the other hand, I knew very little about Jane so some of the information about the legal agreements of her marriage, the money worries after her husband’s execution and the precarious but p ...more
Nov 23, 2012 Elaine rated it it was ok
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
Oct 16, 2015 CrabbyPatty rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Julia Fox tells us little about Jane Boleyn, beyond very third-hand speculation. There is page after descriptive page about major events, and then a sentence or two (and I'm paraphrasing here) "We don't know if Jane attended this meeting" or "Perhaps Jane was there." Jane remains firmly in the shadows, and Fox has substituted a boatload of descriptive passages (we do learn an awful lot about household items and clothing) rather than attempting to flesh out Jane's personality or her motivation. A ...more
Jan 26, 2016 Christine rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. I am always open to all things Tudor. It did not even bother me that I knew much of it would actually be about Anne Boleyn. I had read some other reviews and I believed that maybe there was not that much actual new information about Lady Rochford. It would be regurgitation. I would not mind a review of things, as long as I got to be immersed in the world of Tudor. But this books was regurgitation within the regurgitation! Explanation upon explanation of WHY Ann ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Jaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-5-star-books
This is a 3.5 star book rounded to 4 because of an excellent narrator. This story does not live up to its title because the author has no more proof than any other author that her version is the true version. She states this in her epilogue. I was not as bothered by this as some people were because I wasn't looking for the "ultimate source" on Jane Boleyn. Fox wrote a story that read more like historical fiction in narrative style. The story was pretty much life in the court of Henry VIII throug ...more
Sep 01, 2009 judy rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
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
Mar 30, 2009 Cindy rated it liked it
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
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  • The First Elizabeth
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  • The Sisters Who Would Be Queen
  • The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII
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  • Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII's Favourite Mistress
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  • Arbella: England's Lost Queen
  • Henry: Virtuous Prince
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
  • England Under the Tudors
  • Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery
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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