Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do You Like Historical Fiction?

I do.  Philippa Gregory is known for her historical fiction but I was a first time reader of hers when I read The Boleyn Inheritance.  I am sure you've heard of Henry VIII and his 6 wives: Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Katherine Parr.

This story picks up after the death of Jane Seymour; of the wives who died as queens, she's the only one to die of natural causes after giving birth to a son.  Henry needs insurance in the form of a second son so looks for another wife outside of England.  He contracts with the Duke of Cleves for his sister, Anne of Cleves.  Serving Anne as a lady-in-waiting is Jane Boleyn the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn whose evidence sent Anne and her brother (Jane's husband) to their deaths.  Also serving as a maid-in-waiting is 15 year old Katherine Howard, a cousin to Anne Boleyn.

Gregory tells the story in three voices: Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn, and Katherine Howard.  It is done remarkably well.  You get a clear picture of Henry VIII: fat, lame, smelling of pus and rotten teeth and totally paranoid.  The intrigues of the court become clear too and you have to wonder how anyone survived the gallows or the executioner at the Tower.

Having visited England last June including the Tower of London, I could picture the last days of two of these main characters as they awaited their deaths.  I won't tell you who, though you may know your English history well enough to know.  It was an excellent read.  I look forward to reading other books by Philippa Gregory.

Marcia

4 comments:

  1. Marcia, that certainly sounds like a great read. I read 'The Other Boleyn Girl' some years ago and really enjoyed it. Fascinating time in history.

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  2. I guess I will almost always be the "odd man out" when it comes to historcial fiction. I do love a good work of historical fiction, and have read many I always will hold in high esteem (case in point, my Thomas Flanagan trilogy) but I can easily get annoyed by liberties that are sometimes taken by writers of this genre. I often would rather read a historical work, which many people find dry and boring. I read The Other Boleyn Girl and didn't bother reading any of the other books she wrote. Yet, in reading The Tudors by G.J. Meyers, I am fascinated by all the very true and real details of their lives that I find in this exhaustively researched volume. It is VERY interesting! Like I said, I won't be reviewing it, because it's a pretty thick book, but I am almost finished and I do recommend it to anyone like me who would rather read "the real skinny." :-)

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  3. Sounds very "intriguing!" I'm sure it was an interesting, and in a way, scary, time to live. I watched Lady Jane--a movie about the lady who was queen of England for just a few days after Henry's son Edward's death...it was a real tear-jerker. I don't think I like executions!

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  4. Sounds very "intriguing!" I'm sure it was an interesting, and in a way, scary, time to live. I watched Lady Jane--a movie about the lady who was queen of England for just a few days after Henry's son Edward's death...it was a real tear-jerker. I don't think I like executions!

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