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Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford
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Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  3,708 ratings  ·  351 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
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  3,708 ratings  ·  351 reviews

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Dec 17, 2008 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 14, 2011 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 01, 2008 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 13, 2008 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 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
Roman Clodia
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Like so many 'popular' history books this is written by someone who is neither an academic nor a historian and I'm afraid in shows in her methodology, thinking and general approach. This is a book driven by a personal desire to vindicate a figure who has been vilified by history but sadly there is no evidence to offer the other side of the story (and plenty, although Fox denies or erases it, to support if not prove the conventional reading). As a result this book is full of 'might have', 'probab ...more
Aug 27, 2012 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
Jun 27, 2012 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
May 30, 2012 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
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
So many other reviewers have pointed out that Julia Fox has not written so much about Jane Boleyn as much as around Jane Boleyn. While they are right in their assessment, the same assessment would be made of anyone's writing of Jane Boleyn. Jane Boleyn was a woman during a time when even queens were little more than brood mares. Queens were still being placed in nunneries when kings got tired of them or when they would not bear sons. Just a century before, Queen Isabella of Arragon learned as an ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Nov 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is full of little stinging bugs that fly out and bite the reader all the time. Little annoyances. Let's start with this one: "When she attended the Field of Cloth of Gold, Jane had wandered through the Great Hall of Henry's temporary palace at Guisnes, spellbound by what she had seen." How does Fox even know ANY of this? According to the notes for Chapter 2, Fox guesses that Mistress Parker from the records present with the English court at the Field of Cloth of Gold is indeed Jane Par ...more
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
Apr 27, 2009 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
Jul 20, 2010 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 17, 2012 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
Aug 02, 2009 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 times. My s
Jan 21, 2012 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
Mar 12, 2012 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
May 25, 2013 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
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
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
mp3 I'm going to have to grit my teeth to get past this narrator.

ETA - I have acclimatised to the reading voice enough to concentrate on the content. Does anyone remember The Magic Roundabout that used to be tea-time viewing in UK 'back in the day'? It was fun to count how many times the word 'said' was, erm, said, and tally lists were argued over in the playground. I wish I had started a tally list for 'gold' in this tale.

Some parts of this was truly interesting but such a lot we already knew
Jul 15, 2008 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
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
Oct 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.

Apr 04, 2008 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
May 02, 2012 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
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This book was close to a 4 star for me. The major problem I found in this book is we never know Jane's thoughts. There were so few letters left by her and so little written about her that it makes it difficult to attain any of idea of why she did the things she did. This is no fault of the writer but more history itself. Julia Fox does her best to guess at the gaps and does leave us with some information that someone who is more versed in Tudor history may not have known so that was refreshing. ...more
Caidyn (NO LONGER ACTIVE; he/him/his)
Even though this was written in a way akin to fiction, there was nothing new I gathered from this book. As someone said in another review, this is just a rehashing of Anne and Catherine's downfalls, which were both linked to Jane. Everything about them was vaguely connected to her. There was nothing too major that made Jane Boleyn come to life off the pages. Everything was basically supposition. How she felt. What religion she prescribed to. What it was like with her and her husband. If she was ...more
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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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