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The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
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The Boleyn Inheritance (2006)

by Philippa Gregory

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This installment in the Tudor series was Philippa Gregory at her best, giving life to some of the least known or understood characters of the Tudor era. Two queens, one perpetual lady-in-waiting and the ever cunning Duke of Norfolk make this story gripping and frightening.

First, there is Anne of Cleves, a twenty-four year old queen, who reigns some six months, but is savvy enough to survive being disposed of by Henry VIII, a feat that few of his wives could boast. Anyone familiar with her story must have wondered why she elected to stay in England after Henry set her aside for Katherine Howard and how she managed to become regarded as his “sister” after she had been his wife. We are mostly told by historians that he found her ugly, but Gregory’s explanations are far more believable and credible than that, and she gives this shadowy queen life.

Next, there is Katherine Howard, the fifteen year old, who is beheaded like her cousin Anne Boleyn, but with much less fanfare. Little is known in actuality about Katherine, with exception of an extant letter from her to her lover, Thomas Culpepper. Gregory makes her a pretty and foolish teenager, taken with the limelight and repulsed by the fetid old man, whom no one can deny Henry VIII had become. Again, there is no doubt that this is who she might have been, as plausible a portrait as anyone could draw without having more information to draw on.

The third woman we are allowed to see closely is Jane Boleyn. Ah, here much is known and even more imagined, but this is a portrait of Jane that is somehow removed from the cold and calculating portrait we normally see. Not that she is warm, or soft, or lovable, but she is, here, human and pitiable.

In fact, even Henry himself is different in this account than in any of the previous ones, but this incarnation seems to be the logical outgrowth of what has come before--a madman, and in many ways a monster. How else to explain a man who would bed a fifteen year old, thinking she desires him, or behead a seventeen year old girl because she does not.

I have three more installments in the Plantagenet/Tudor series and I am certain I will miss having another to look forward to when I have completed them all.


( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I love the way Philippa Gregory gives the reader such insight into the characters of history. The details are rich, and help put everything in context. These three women were all trapped in the circumstances of their lives, and each handled the situation so differently. Well done! ( )
  TheBibliophage | Mar 20, 2018 |
Typical Phillipa Gregory fun read. I especially liked the way the chapters were told from the first person of three women: Jane Rochford (widow of George Boleyn) whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law, Anne to their deaths. Anne of Cleaves, the only wife of Henry VIII to survive the marriage, and Katherine Howard, fifteen, foolish, and married to the obese, mad Henry.

Basically the story stays very true to history, but of course the narratives are all imagined. Just a good fun read. ( )
  maryreinert | Oct 22, 2017 |
The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillippa Gregory is another book about the queens of King Henry. I have read several of Phillippa Gregory’s other books with The Other Boleyn Girl as my favorite. This book was specifically about Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Rochford. As is the case with good historical fiction, this book had me craving to know more about these women. The story alternated between the three women living from 1539-1542, only three years. I enjoyed the story and getting to know these women better. Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard were portrayed as very likeable characters. I cannot say the same for Jane Rochford. Overall, an enjoyable read, and piqued my interest to know more. ( )
  sh7980 | Oct 31, 2016 |
First of all, let me start by telling you I am almost as obsessed with Gregory's books as I am with Tudor history - and that's saying something. This is a wonderful book, told in 3 ladies point of view. I was really excited to read this, because I didn't know much about 2 of the 3 ladies. All of that being said, however... as much as I did enjoy this book (and I give it 4 out of 5 stars), I was so disappointed because the story line seems so... simple. I would have thought this was a young adult book, except... it's not a young adult book. I kept waiting for more. I did thoroughly enjoy the portrayal of Anne of Cleves & slightly less so of Lady Jane Rochford, but Katherine Howard... childlike, immature, beautiful, vain Katherine Howard, just drove me nuts. I have never believed her to be as simple as Gregory pictured her.

All in all, I'd recommend to other history buffs, but it's not a book I'd read again.
( )
  anastaciaknits | Oct 29, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074327251X, Paperback)

Three women who share one fate: the Boleyn Inheritance

ANNE OF CLEVES: She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a court ruled by the terror of a vengeful king who despises her. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witness.

KATHERINE HOWARD: She is in love -- but not with the diseased old man who made her queen and beds her night after night. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe.

JANE ROCHFORD: She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.

The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory is at her intelligent, page-turning best.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Three women who share one fate: The Boleyn Inheritance: Anne of Cleves: She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses. Katherine Howard: She catches the king's eye within moments of arriving at court, setting in motion the dreadful machine of politics, intrigue, and treason that she does not understand. She only knows that she is beautiful, that men desire her, that she is young and in love -- but not with the diseased old man who made her queen, beds her night after night, and killed her cousin Anne. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe. Jane Rochford: She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. She is the trusted friend of two threatened queens, the perfectly loyal spy for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and a canny survivor in the murderous court of a most dangerous king. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul. The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory has brought a vanished world to life -- the whisper of a silk skirt on a stone stair, the yellow glow of candlelight illuminating a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower Green below the newly built scaffold. In The Boleyn Inheritance Gregory is at her intelligent and page-turning best.Includes discussion questions.… (more)

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