Category Archives: Philippa Gregory

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

Title:  The Boleyn Inheritance
Author: Philippa Gregory
Loved it for my Tudors fix!

When I went to the library a few weeks ago, I knew that it had been FAR too long since my last installment of Tudor drama.  Luckily, the library had The Boleyn Inheritance on the shelf, which is the next installment (chronologically) in the series for me.  I read about, and fell in love with, Katharine of Aragon in The Constant Princess  despite my love for Anne Boleyn, which flourished out of The Other Boleyn Girl

The Boleyn Inheritance doesn’t pick up RIGHT after the execution of Anne Boleyn, but the reader receives brief accounts of Henry’s marriage to Jane Seymour.  And while he didn’t execute Jane, the wives that are the focus of The Boleyn Inheritance seem frightfully aware of the fact that he didn’t exactly do much to save her.  Or mourn for very long before seeking out a replacement bride.

This portion of “history” (in quotations because, well, this is still a work of fiction) is told through the voices of three very different women: Jane Rochford (a woman that we know from previous Tudor tales), Anne of Cleves, and Katharine Howard (Henry just can’t enough of those Howard women!).  Each woman suffers from her own personal demons and/or sordid background.  They each must tread lightly in Henry VIII’s tumultuous court, remaining vigilant of his ever-changing moods and easily bruised ego.

Each woman also struggles with finding her own freedom and happiness in an era when these were not necessarily easily obtainable (or even guarantees) for any woman.  Gregory excels in roping the reader into really feeling for each of these women.  You can feel their fear and suffering.  When one is suspected of treason, your heart races with theirs and you turn each page knowing what he fate will be, but, in some cases, hoping that perhaps you’re wrong.

I also want to take a moment to call out that this book made me more of a fan of Katharine Howard.  Granted, my only previous exposure to her has been through The Tudors television series (yes, I’m still delinquent in reading my non-fiction collections on Henry VIII’s wives).  From the show, I found her to be insufferable – annoying, superficial, and, to be blunt, kind of dumb.  Through The Boleyn Inheritance, however, I was able to see her for what she really was: a young girl who just wanted love, attention, and all of the pretty dresses and cloaks that she could get her hands on.  What teenage girl WOULDN’T have behaved in the same way?  And what teenage girl (especially from a background similar to Katharine’s) wouldn’t jump at the prospect of being Queen of England?

Needless to say, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction, historical women, or anyone who is just looking for a very good read.  You don’t need to be familiar with the Tudor history up until this point to know what’s going on and there are plenty of passages recounting Henry’s previous wives to get you up to speed, anyway.

Book Summary
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.

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Monday Quote: Freedom and The Boleyn Inheritance

It is no small thing, this, for a woman: freedom.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

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The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Constant Princess
Author: Philippa Gregory
Length: 393 pages
Very enjoyable read!

Despite being an avid fan of Anne Boleyn, I have a soft spot for Katharine of Aragon.  How could you not?  Despite being a princess, she lived a pretty difficult and upsetting life, though – as I choose to believe (which I state because I have yet to read a 100% non-fiction account of her life) – managed to maintain dignity and courage throughout everything.

Before I realized that there could be an actually appropriate order to reading Philippa Gregor’s Tudor novels, I read The Other Boleyn Girl – mostly to feed my ever-growing fascination with Anne Boleyn.  Despite becoming somewhat annoyed with how Gregory portrayed Boleyn, I very much enjoyed her storytelling and set myself a goal of reading them all – except going back one book first, in order to read them in order (which you can reference in my previously posted author spotlight on Gregory).

A few weeks ago, I finally put The Constant Princess on order at the library, received my notification that it was in, and then devoured the novel in a week – despite the somewhat chaotic, consuming (yet good!) stuff going on right now.  Once again, there were some elements of the story that I didn’t feel too enthusiastic about, I continue to enjoy Gregory’s storytelling and will hold to my goal of reading the remainder Tudor novels she has written.

One part that I didn’t fully enjoy is the portrayal of Katharine’s relationship with Arthur.  Possibly because her story is so tragic, I prefer to believe that they didn’t have the opportunity to fall in love, consummate the marriage, and share their hopes and dreams for England with each other.  With that said, and totally ignoring what I’d like to personally believe was the reality, I thoroughly enjoyed their actual love story in the novel.  It is incredibly sweet and makes the remaining trials and tribulations of her life all the more sad.

The novel also paints more of a picture of King Henry VII and his mother than I’ve seen (so far), which was enjoyable to read.  We get to see Henry VIII as young Harry, completely spoilt, coddled, and somewhat jealous of his older brother.  The reader witnesses the ups and downs of the start of his marriage to Katharine and the ending bleeds a little into the events from the time of Anne Boleyn, but only enough to give you a taste for the drama to come in future novels.

So, once again, this is a book that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the Tudors (though don’t expect this to be a bona fide history lesson) or just enjoys historical fiction, no matter the era.

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Author Spotlight: Philippa Gregory

While I have (so far) only read one novel by her (The Other Boleyn Girl), I’m fascinated by anyone who successfully writes engaging, and even relatively believable, historical fiction.  In an effort to familiarize myself more with her work and background, I would like to focus on Philippa Gregory for this week’s author spotlight.

Biography

Philippa Gregory was born, and spent the first two years of her life, in Kenya.  She received a BA in History at the University of Sussex and went on to receive a PhD. in 18th century literature at the University of Edinburgh.  In addition to writing novels, she contributes to newspapers and magazines.  Additionally, she has taught at the University of Durham, University of Teesside, the Open University, and she was made a fellow at Kingston University.

She has written many books, mostly all historical fiction (listed below), and contests that her novels are completely historically accurate, but there has been controversy surrounding this claim.  Historically accurate or not, her novels are well-written and well-loved.

Gregory also does charity work – Gardens for Gambia.  Formed in 1993, the aim of Gardens for Gambia is to provide water for wells located at rural schools in Gambia.  This water helps the schools maintain gardens, which produce vegetables for the schoolchildren to eat and the surplus is sold to raise money for school equipment.  The link brings you to the information provided on Gregory’s official website.

She lives in Yorkshire with her family where she keeps horses and ducks.

Bibliography

Wideacre Trilogy

  1. Wideacre (1987)
  2. The Favoured Child (1989)
  3. Meridon (1990)

Earthly Joys

  1. Earthly Joys (1998)
  2. Virgin Earth (1999)

Tudor Novels – in historical chronological order

  1. The Constant Princess (2005)
  2. The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
  3. The Boleyn Inheritance (2006)
  4. The Queen’s Fool (2003)
  5. The Virgin’s Lover (2004)
  6. The Other Queen (2008)

The Cousins’ War

  1. The White Queen (2009)
  2. The Red Queen (2010)
  3. The Lady of the Rivers (2011)
Non-Series

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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory


Title: The Other Boleyn Girl
Author: Philippa Gregory
Length: 664 pages
Loved It!

As I recently mentioned, I am currently totally enamored with Tudor history – especially as it relates to Anne Boleyn.  For this newfound obsession, I blame the Showtime television series, The Tudors.  So, naturally, as a book lover, I wanted to find some good books related to this period and I recalled, from a few months ago, a friend of mine read many of the Philippa Gregory novels and had favorable things to say about them.

Even though The Other Boleyn Girl isn’t the first in the series (I believe that The Constant Princess is where you’d want to start), I decided to start there – mainly because Barnes & Noble has a slew of them in their bargain book section right now.  Regardless, the book starts off right where I wanted it to… the introduction of the Boleyn girls to King Henry VIII and the chaos that ensues because of the family’s ambition.

While reading this book, it’s important to remember that it’s historical fiction, so I kept reminding myself that the details being presented aren’t necessarily bona fide history.  But the story is presented in such an engaging, entertaining, and suspenseful way that it has only fueled my desire to learn more.  I also enjoyed that this book was told from the point of view of Mary Boleyn, the Boleyn girl who doesn’t usually get as much attention as her sister, Queen Anne Boleyn.  Through Mary’s eyes, the reader gets the infamous story of her sister’s rise and fall, but there are also breaks where the reader travels with Mary to Hever castle or a distant farm.

The description on the back cover also does an excellent job in laying out what to expect to find within its pages:

Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the young Henry VIII.  Dazzled by the deadly rivalries of the court, Mary falls in love both with the most powerful man in England and her growing role as an unofficial queen.  She soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s plots as she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her ambitious sister, Anne.  then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take her fate into her own hands.

A rich and compelling tale of love, ambition, lust, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman who survived the most glamorous and dangerous court in Europe by following her heart.

If you have any interest in historical fiction, Tudor history (or just the fictional stories about them), or just want a really excellent and entertaining read – I highly recommend this book!  And I cannot wait to read her other novels, as well.

Check out The Other Boleyn Girl on Amazon.

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