Jean Marie's Reviews > The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
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's review
Sep 23, 2010

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bookshelves: early-modern-england
Read in June, 2010

After reading The Other Boleyn Girl and loving it, I added all of Gregory's catalogue to my must read list. This one is about the post Tudor world after the fall of Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. It's also a tri-narrative, bouncing from Lady Jane Rochford, George Boleyn's serpent tongued wife who basically sent him to the block; Anne of Cleves, Henry's wife number four, and Katherine Howard, his wife number five.

Overall, this book was really good, very well written, researched and balanced between fact and the fiction that Gregory is so well at weaving into her stories. I loved how she portrayed Anne of Cleves, how she created her upbringing, how she portrays the awkward woman who came to England. Finally, Anne had a personality which always seems to be overlooked in most Tudor novels. Jane Rochford was an interesting one, while she's portrayed as believing herself as innocent of doing harm to her late husband and sister-in-law it's a great storyline to see Jane try to live with herself after what she did. This book does a great job of almost making Jane likable until Katherine Howard enters the mix.
Katherine was the most frustrating out of this entire book. History tells us that Katherine was still a teen when Henry took her as mistress and queen and that she was vain and silly like most teens are. But the over-reiteration of Katherine's lack of intelligence, or her blatant stupidity is aggrivating. And Katherine is probably the weakest character Gregory has written in the books of her's I've read.

While I enjoyed this book, the author's portrayl of Katherine bothered me throughout. It wasn't until she's arrested that I felt that the real Katherine came forth in the writting. I just wish that she wasn't portrayed as a simpleton throught the majority of the novel. Nevertheless, this is a great read and one of the rare novels out there about the two middle queens of Henry VIII and the woman who knew them.

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