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The Boleyn Inheritance

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The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both lan The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both language and habits are foreign. Although fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she senses a trap closing around her. Katherine is confident that she can follow in the steps of her cousin Anne Boleyn to dazzle her way to the throne but her kinswoman Jane Boleyn, haunted by the past, knows that Anne’s path led to Tower Green and to an adulterer’s death. The story of these three young women, trying to make their own way through the most volatile court in Europe at a time of religious upheaval and political uncertainty, is Philippa Gregory’s most compelling novel yet.


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The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both lan The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful at the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both language and habits are foreign. Although fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she senses a trap closing around her. Katherine is confident that she can follow in the steps of her cousin Anne Boleyn to dazzle her way to the throne but her kinswoman Jane Boleyn, haunted by the past, knows that Anne’s path led to Tower Green and to an adulterer’s death. The story of these three young women, trying to make their own way through the most volatile court in Europe at a time of religious upheaval and political uncertainty, is Philippa Gregory’s most compelling novel yet.

30 review for The Boleyn Inheritance

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Boers

    The story of Henry the VIII’s less well known wives, Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleves, as told by themselves and Jane Boleyn, sister in law of the doomed Queen Anne. What Gregory does well is utilize the known history to augment her fiction. Her characters might well share the motives of the Tudors & Co, and if they don’t, well, they’re still highly plausible and enjoyably readable. Not a subtle book by any means-the phrase “the Boleyn Inheritance” is used no less than 2 million times-but The story of Henry the VIII’s less well known wives, Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleves, as told by themselves and Jane Boleyn, sister in law of the doomed Queen Anne. What Gregory does well is utilize the known history to augment her fiction. Her characters might well share the motives of the Tudors & Co, and if they don’t, well, they’re still highly plausible and enjoyably readable. Not a subtle book by any means-the phrase “the Boleyn Inheritance” is used no less than 2 million times-but totally immersive and admirably detailed. Recommended for: fans of female centered historical fiction, those wishing wish ‘Game of Thrones’ was more gossip/court intrigue and less high stakes violence/despondency.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    You have to hand it to Philippa Gregory — she creates a lot of suspense out of a story everyone knows the ending to. Normally I don’t much go in for historical fiction, but this was available at the library on cd and I had a road trip coming up, so, in the words of Katherine Howard, “Voilà!” I was entertained, though not enthralled. The novel spans Henry VIII’s marriages to Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, and is narrated by three women: Anne, Katherine, and Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn, siste You have to hand it to Philippa Gregory — she creates a lot of suspense out of a story everyone knows the ending to. Normally I don’t much go in for historical fiction, but this was available at the library on cd and I had a road trip coming up, so, in the words of Katherine Howard, “Voilà!” I was entertained, though not enthralled. The novel spans Henry VIII’s marriages to Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, and is narrated by three women: Anne, Katherine, and Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn, sister-in-law of beheaded Anne Boleyn). Anne of Cleves is both intelligent and honorable, and I felt for her as she slowly realizes that she’d exchanged the humiliations of her brother’s court for the life-threatening humiliations of Henry’s court. The only problem with Anne is her repetitive “realizations” of Henry’s insanity. “I think he must be mad!”; “I fear the king is mad!” “The country is ruled by a madman!” How many times can you be surprised by this? Anyway, it got a bit old, as did her droning on about her life being in danger, especially as we already know she doesn't end up beheaded. (Remember the rhyme: "Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.") And besides, Henry VIII wasn't insane, just selfish and corrupt. The truly mad character is Lady Rochford, who yearns to return to the same court that had decimated her family a few years before. Even more unbelievably, she is shocked — shocked! — when her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, proves as duplicitously self-serving as ever. I mean, isn’t it obvious that if a man will throw one niece under the bus, he’d throw another one? Her machinations seem doomed from the start simply because of who she's taking orders from. The real star of the show, however, is Katherine Howard, the endearingly materialistic, shallow, short-sighted teenage successor to Anne of Cleves. She’s not so much stupid as supremely unintellectual, with a genius for flirtation and blindness to danger. Surprisingly, I found myself rooting for this self-serving little hussy who didn't think twice about feigning ecstasy with a disgusting old man if it meant she'd get a new dress. There's something refreshing about a person who doesn't know you're supposed to hide your materialism. In the audiobook the women are narrated by three different actresses, which adds immeasurably to the individual voice of each character —Katherine’s portrayal was spectacular. Fun to listen to on a drive, though I wouldn't waste the time to read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I read The Other Boleyn Girl first and that book should bow down to this one. The books hardly compare. This one is by far the better book. Although I greatly enjoyed both, for me this one was told in such a unique way and by women I didn't know much about that it grabbed me from the beginning. It tells the story from three different perspectives. One unexpected and extremley interesting the wife of Anne Boleyn's brother, now a widow. Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn) is now a bitter older women wanti I read The Other Boleyn Girl first and that book should bow down to this one. The books hardly compare. This one is by far the better book. Although I greatly enjoyed both, for me this one was told in such a unique way and by women I didn't know much about that it grabbed me from the beginning. It tells the story from three different perspectives. One unexpected and extremley interesting the wife of Anne Boleyn's brother, now a widow. Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn) is now a bitter older women wanting to be kept involved in court life and is haunted by a past mistake. It then switches to Anne of Cleves. She is sitting and being painted. This portrait will be sent to the King. There he sends for her to become his wife. When he sees her he is disgusted by her. How can she handle such a situation with a hateful brother back home and a hateful husband in England? The third person is Henry's eventual fifth wife the young teenage Katherine Howard. She is young, foolish, and loose and has no idea that her fate will lead her to the King and her mistakes to her death. This story weaves three extrelmely interesting and entertaing stories into one. It is told in an engaging way and it makes you want to keep turning the pages. It is one of the best Elizabethean historical fiction I have read and defintley my favorite by this amazing author. It will captivate you and move you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    I'm a sucker for Tudor historicals. It never gets old reading about the six queens of Henry VIII, and it gives me a serious appreciation for my daily life after reading about the dangers of living in the past. Having a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth results in social ostracism these days for me, in the past, I could have been beheaded, raped, drawn, tortured, disemboweled, boiled alive. And if I'm lucky, it would have been done in that order. While it's no torture reading this book, I did f I'm a sucker for Tudor historicals. It never gets old reading about the six queens of Henry VIII, and it gives me a serious appreciation for my daily life after reading about the dangers of living in the past. Having a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth results in social ostracism these days for me, in the past, I could have been beheaded, raped, drawn, tortured, disemboweled, boiled alive. And if I'm lucky, it would have been done in that order. While it's no torture reading this book, I did find it drawn on and I am not a fan of the characterization. Besides Anne of Cleves, who is admittedly dull, the other two main characters in this book, the unfortunate Jane, Lady Boleyn and the infantile Queen Katherine, both seem like caricatures. Jane is a devious, desperate shrew unable to see the truth of her actions until the very end, and Katherine would make Cher of Clueless fame seem positively brilliant in comparison. I find it particularly grating that she keeps repeating "Now let me see, what do I have?" in the beginning of her sections. I understand that the author is trying to reinforce the fact that Katherine is empty-headed, materialistic, and vain, but there is a way of doing it correctly to gain the reader's sympathy; having her grate on the reader's nerves is not how it's done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    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 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Agnes

    Oh, bad historical fiction, how I love thee!! I must confess that I had a hard time putting this down, much like its prequel "The Other Boleyn Girl." To be fair, the historical research is impressive, with the author using the most up-to-date resources and theories available about the reign of Henry VIII, but still...the sex scenes! The maidens! The lack of discussion of politics and historical context! Never mind, it was a great read and I'm sure I'll reread both books in a couple of years. (Ha Oh, bad historical fiction, how I love thee!! I must confess that I had a hard time putting this down, much like its prequel "The Other Boleyn Girl." To be fair, the historical research is impressive, with the author using the most up-to-date resources and theories available about the reign of Henry VIII, but still...the sex scenes! The maidens! The lack of discussion of politics and historical context! Never mind, it was a great read and I'm sure I'll reread both books in a couple of years. (Hah! I was already on the author's website yesterday to see if she is writing anything about Henry VIII's last wife, Catherine Parr.) In short, this novel tells the stories of wives 4 and 5, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Read it after "The Other Boleyn Girl," otherwise the third main character and narrator, Jane Boleyn (Anne's sister-in-law) will not make as much sense. Henry VIII is presented as a uniformly disgusting monster in this volume, as opposed to "The Other Boleyn Girl," which seems consistent with his aging in reality. Romps, beheadings and talk of gowns abound, and the novel is thoroughly enjoyable for its genre with surprisingly few truly awful dialogues/passages. Seriously, I couldn't put it down.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Hmm...do I recommend The Boleyn Inheritance? NO. Here's why: 1. It makes me acutely aware that if I enjoyed this series of Phillipa Gregory books in my youth, that when I get crumbly (read: old), I'll probably end up enjoying Harlequin Romance novels. 2. In The Boleyn Inheritance, as with The Other Boleyn Girl, Ms. Gregory writes with such myopic vision that I wanted to scream from the claustrophobic feeling. She writes around in circles, covering the same topic repeatedly with only slight variation Hmm...do I recommend The Boleyn Inheritance? NO. Here's why: 1. It makes me acutely aware that if I enjoyed this series of Phillipa Gregory books in my youth, that when I get crumbly (read: old), I'll probably end up enjoying Harlequin Romance novels. 2. In The Boleyn Inheritance, as with The Other Boleyn Girl, Ms. Gregory writes with such myopic vision that I wanted to scream from the claustrophobic feeling. She writes around in circles, covering the same topic repeatedly with only slight variation. Granted, that is perhaps the entire feel of living at court in King Henry VIII's time, and so she's reconstructing the aura through her writing style. The only redemption for it, though, was her use of three perspectives. In TOBG, we only got to see Mary's view with editorializing, so this new usage of three narrators was the only fresh air readers get. 3. If you are my mother-in-law or my grandmother, stop reading here. Okay, now that it's just us frivolous girls, this novel is full of intrigue, backstabbing, political gaming, greed, beheading. All of which make the perfect plot. And then there's the s-e-x. Lots of s-e-x. Ugh. It churns my stomach, quite honestly, how incredibly detailed they get, how up close and personal they get with a topic that should, imo, be only personal/private. I'm not a prude...obviously, since I finished reading it when I should have set it aside. I know, I know, it's historical fiction, and King Henry VIII was really flatulent, had a huge, open, stinking, puss-oozing wound and was impotent to boot. I get it. Really, I get it. Ms. Gregory kept hitting me in the face with it all, though, and eventually I got fed up. So, three reasons I won't recommend this to anyone. And yet, I can't help imagining that if a friend told me she read it, I'd probably grin and say, "Is it good for you?" It did wrap up nicely the loose ends she left in TOBG, like Jane's (George's wife) betrayal being totally bogus. I enjoyed seeing her get her just desserts. Now, on the other hand, if Ms. Gregory chooses to novelize Princess/Queen Mary's and Queen Elizabeth's reign, I might run headlong into those. If I remember correctly, there was NO sex there.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*

    I must confess, I was putting off reading this for ages and ages because having three main characters each with different viewpoints felt extremely intimidating and sounded very confusing. Ha! I needn't have worried. Each of these ladies' lives is so intertwined with each other that it makes for a REALLY easy read. Add the fact that the audiobook is abridged (elsewise I would NOT have finished this in a day, still trying to wrap my head around that one anyway), and this is an absolute breeze of I must confess, I was putting off reading this for ages and ages because having three main characters each with different viewpoints felt extremely intimidating and sounded very confusing. Ha! I needn't have worried. Each of these ladies' lives is so intertwined with each other that it makes for a REALLY easy read. Add the fact that the audiobook is abridged (elsewise I would NOT have finished this in a day, still trying to wrap my head around that one anyway), and this is an absolute breeze of a novel. Not so much for our leading ladies, but you get the idea. This book picks up with Henry's fourth soon-to-be wife, Anne of Cleves, and takes us through his fourth and fifth marriages. I'm still a bit bummed Ms Gregory opted not to grace us with a novel that at least had Catherine Parr somewhat involved, but I suppose by then all the drama llamas that followed Henry VIII around had died off. Sorry, that was bad. Like, really bad. Anyway... After Katherine of Aragon, whom I ADORED reading about in The Constant Princess, I have to say Anne of Cleves is my next favorite of Henry's unfortunate wives. I do like Anne Boleyn, but she's the one with all the publicity, everyone knows her. And I feel like after reading the first three books in this series, binge-watching The Tudors on Netflix is required. And I always seem to mix the Tudors cast with the Other Boleyn Girl cast-- I like ScarJo for Mary Boleyn, but Natalie Dormer will ALWAYS be Anne and I like Jim Sturgess for George. And Jonathan for Henry, because yum. And Tamzin Merchant is perfect for Katherine Howard. I can feel myself digressing. As I said, I like Anne of Cleves and I really feel bad for her because, like Katherine of Aragon, she never did anything to warrant what she got. Granted, it could've been a hell of a lot worse *side-eyes Anne B and Katherine H* but still, this poor girl. She gets dragged out of her home country into a place where she doesn't speak the language nearly at all, gets laughed at and treated with suspicion because of that, and is still excited to meet and marry her new husband. And then as soon as Henry meets her he decides he doesn't like her. What an ass. And throughout all of this, and then dumping her so he can marry a teenager (rape culture much?), Anne is never really angry or very jaded by the whole thing-- just bewildered as all get out. I just want to give her a hug. The "Boleyn Inheritance" seems to be a whole lot of nothing, by the end of this book. Although, I suppose Anne of Cleves would beg to differ, seeing as she wound up with a nice house out of the whole deal. Other than that, both Katherine and Jane Rochford-Boleyn died, for gods' sake. Katherine I did feel a bit sorry for, because she's only a child really. She likes pretty things and would likely be far better off if this whole thing were make-believe and she could marry a handsome prince and go on like that; by the time she and Henry get together he's old enough to be her father and his leg is NASTY and (as evidenced with Anne of Cleves) he can't get it up anymore. Pity Viagra didn't exist. Jane, on the other hand, is a real piece of work. Throughout my learning about her, she just comes across as a snake. In OBG, we hear George moaning about being married to her, which gives the impression that she's not a nice person, and then she stabs both him and Anne in the back, so it's not a good outlook for her at all through the eyes of the reader. But then come this book and she's all BOOHOO I LOST MY HUSBAND, HIS AND ANNE'S GHOSTS HAUNT ME, WAHHHH. Fuck off, bitch. She tries to paint herself all like she really did love him, and I just don't buy it. I don't know how things actually were, back in the 1500s, but I really don't buy it. I was SO glad to hear she died, because it's everything she deserved. Now if only Uncle Norfolk could have gone the same way... Oh and a word about the audio-- great choice. I've loved Ruthie Henshall since she starred in Les Miserables back in the 1990s, and she plays Katherine Howard to the hilt. Very well done. Bianca Amato and Dagmara Dominczyk were also fantastic as Jane Boleyn and Anne of Cleves, respectively -- each of their voices helped keep me in touch with the story, I'll have to remember them when I reread this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I picked this up immediately after reading The Other Boleyn Girl, unable to slake my thirst for more of Henry VIII and his court. I was skeptical, as all should be when embarking on a sequel of any sort, but was pleasantly surprised. Divided between three narrators, the evil and half-mad Jane Boleyn, the ill-fated Katherine Howard, and the strong survivor, Anne of Cleves, the reader gets a new perspective on the fourth and fifth wives of Henry VIII. Indeed, though I always knew that Anne of Cle I picked this up immediately after reading The Other Boleyn Girl, unable to slake my thirst for more of Henry VIII and his court. I was skeptical, as all should be when embarking on a sequel of any sort, but was pleasantly surprised. Divided between three narrators, the evil and half-mad Jane Boleyn, the ill-fated Katherine Howard, and the strong survivor, Anne of Cleves, the reader gets a new perspective on the fourth and fifth wives of Henry VIII. Indeed, though I always knew that Anne of Cleves was the wife who was put aside, I never knew that she stayed on in England. Though I knew that Katherine Howard was the youngest of Henry's wives, I never thought how that might have affected her fate. Gregory has taken the perspectives of the two wives that historically we know the least about and once again has written a novel that I just couldn't put down. Though we will never know the truth about these two women, I believe that Gregory has in some way vindicated these two ill-treated wives. Definitely an enthralling read, and as I said in my review of The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory certainly does her research. In both books she provides a bibliography.

  10. 5 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    Anne of Cleves is one gutsy lady; wedded to Henry VIII who is overweight, foul-breathed and has a putrid leg, she barely speaks English, about to lose her crown to the 'slutty' and silly little Katherine Howard, trapped in England and deserted by her family - does she cave in? No, not Anne. "Anne Boleyn has been a shameful secret in our family for so long, it hardly matters whether she was innocent or not... It is not as if I have to follow in her footsteps, it is not as if there is a Boleyn inhe Anne of Cleves is one gutsy lady; wedded to Henry VIII who is overweight, foul-breathed and has a putrid leg, she barely speaks English, about to lose her crown to the 'slutty' and silly little Katherine Howard, trapped in England and deserted by her family - does she cave in? No, not Anne. "Anne Boleyn has been a shameful secret in our family for so long, it hardly matters whether she was innocent or not... It is not as if I have to follow in her footsteps, it is not as if there is a Boleyn inheritance of the scaffold and I am her heir..." A moment of clarity by Katherine Howard. Does she learn to curb her actions/thoughts/deeds? She's fifteen, beautiful, she thinks life will go all her way... Jane Boleyn is, by all accounts, an evil woman; she sent both her husband and her sister-in-law to the scaffold for her own twisted reasons. Philippa Gregory, once again, weaves a story which is compelling and real. 4★. Now added to my tbr list is Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions by the notable British History Professor G.W. Bernard

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    Many years ago I read and enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl and raced to the first next book by this author I could find, which was Wideacre. Oh dear, what a wrong choice that was. I HATED Wideacre , hated it with a passion, and vowed to never bother with a Phillippa Gregory book again. . I have no great love for court dramas, all that bed hopping, backstabbing and scheming is sometimes exhausting to read so I never thought I would miss much by not continuing the Tudor Series. But a good and trusted Many years ago I read and enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl and raced to the first next book by this author I could find, which was Wideacre. Oh dear, what a wrong choice that was. I HATED Wideacre , hated it with a passion, and vowed to never bother with a Phillippa Gregory book again. . I have no great love for court dramas, all that bed hopping, backstabbing and scheming is sometimes exhausting to read so I never thought I would miss much by not continuing the Tudor Series. But a good and trusted friend kept on reading the series and telling me how much she enjoys it so I finally I decided to give this series another chance. And now at the end of this audio book all I can say is WOW, what an audio production. Little vain and utterly vapid Katherine (Kitty) Howard was my favourite from a narration point of view but all 3 narrators did a brilliant job bringing this book to life. For anyone who does not know the history after Anne Boleyn’s head was chopped off herewith a quick synopsis: Anne of Cleve becomes wife nr 4 in a marriage arranged by Thomas Cromwell. This shy woman is brought to court with no understanding of English and completely unable to navigate the politics. I really felt sorry for her and was delighted as the story unfolded showing how she matured into a woman so much stronger than ever expected. Jane Boleyn – the sister in law to Anne Boleyn brought back to court by her Uncle Howard to monitor, watch and spy on the queen. Jane is a bitter woman feeling entitled to be back at court and trying her best to block out the death of her husband and sister-in-law. Katherine Howard is a pretty spoilt little slut flirt of only 14 years old. She makes social errors and cause scandal again and again with an almost childlike innocence, measuring her happiness in the one thing she does understand, material things. I actually felt sympathy for all 3 these women. Every one of them were nothing more than puppets on a mad master’s strings. This novel is full of intrigue, backstabbing, political gaming, greed and beheading. All of which make the perfect plot. I have to commend the author for presenting history in such an entertaining yet informative way for readers like me who know little about the Tudor period. The writing however is not flawless and if I had read it instead of listening to it I would probably have given it a slightly lower rating. There is quite a bit of repetition in the text. The words “He is so old he could be my Grandfather”, and “Boleyn Inheritance” were repeated a few times too many but the audio allows for more forgiveness in this regard when the narration is captivating. So my advice is that if you can get this book in audio format, go for it. It was highly entertaining!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    So. This is where I admit defeat and accept that this author simply isn't for me. I tried listening to The Constant Princess and abandoned it because I disagree with the author's characterization of Catherine of Aragon and couldn't suspend my belief far enough to just go with her approach; I abandoned The King's Curse after the first chapter because I disliked the writing; tried this because I liked the idea of reading about Anne of Cleves; and abandoned The Taming of the Queen after the opening So. This is where I admit defeat and accept that this author simply isn't for me. I tried listening to The Constant Princess and abandoned it because I disagree with the author's characterization of Catherine of Aragon and couldn't suspend my belief far enough to just go with her approach; I abandoned The King's Curse after the first chapter because I disliked the writing; tried this because I liked the idea of reading about Anne of Cleves; and abandoned The Taming of the Queen after the opening chapter because, again, the writing didn't appeal to me. I think it's safe to say that the author's writing just isn't for me. And I'm all for taking creative license (hello, I watched The Tudors and actually enjoyed it sometimes, despite all the historical inaccuracies), so it's all me - not the author. I liked the beginning of the book, especially how Anne was portrayed. Lady Rochfort I never really cared for and mostly skimmed her chapters. But then, halfway through, little Katherine Howard takes over. I thought I hated the vapid, giggly little teenager on The Tudors. But then we'd need a whole new word for how I feel about this Kitty. Nine (I counted. NINE) of her chapters started with "Now, let me see, what do I have..." and then she would go on and list all the presents she got from the king. Point taken, the author wants to portray her as a materialistic little flirt who would do anything for a new trinket - even kiss a man she is so repulsed by that she has to fantasize about someone else whenever he's near. I started skipping her chapters early on. Most of them were only a few pages short, so I thought why bother with seeing what just happened through her eyes yet again. But once she became queen and her chapters got longer I just couldn't take it anymore and abandoned the book. I think that might have been my biggest problem with the book. The three women for the most part just take turns describing the exact same events from their point of view.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    In this installment of the Tudor court saga Gregory has 3 different characters narrate the story from their own point of view. This has the potential to make for a very interesting story, but the book was so repetitive because each of the characters was so one dimensional. Allow me to save you the time. Jane Boleyn: I've seen it all before. Doesn't anyone else remember George and Anne. I'm going to get back the power they used to have. Anne of Cleaves: My brother is a crazy tyrant, the king is a c In this installment of the Tudor court saga Gregory has 3 different characters narrate the story from their own point of view. This has the potential to make for a very interesting story, but the book was so repetitive because each of the characters was so one dimensional. Allow me to save you the time. Jane Boleyn: I've seen it all before. Doesn't anyone else remember George and Anne. I'm going to get back the power they used to have. Anne of Cleaves: My brother is a crazy tyrant, the king is a crazy tyrant. I want to be free like a falcon. Katherine Howard: I am a vapid teenage who likes boys, dresses, and being pretty. The characters harp on these themes every time the narration shifts to them. The historical facts should have made this one of the more interesting reads as Henry grows more and more unstable, but instead this book is a tediously long read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lushbug

    Fantastic read. Really sucks you into the terrible Tudor age. Henry is brought to life as an old, smelly, fat, puss filled tyrant-deluded and feared by all, his every whim catered to. Book is narrated by three people, Anne of Cleves who comes over as Henrys fourth bride, Katherine Howards who becomes his fifth wife and Lady Jane Rochford who is lady in waiting to both these brief queens. Anne of Cleves comes across as a very sensible, kind woman. You can understand everyones confusion and dismay Fantastic read. Really sucks you into the terrible Tudor age. Henry is brought to life as an old, smelly, fat, puss filled tyrant-deluded and feared by all, his every whim catered to. Book is narrated by three people, Anne of Cleves who comes over as Henrys fourth bride, Katherine Howards who becomes his fifth wife and Lady Jane Rochford who is lady in waiting to both these brief queens. Anne of Cleves comes across as a very sensible, kind woman. You can understand everyones confusion and dismay when she is usurped as Queen by the silly, vain Katherine Howard simply because the King finds her more attractive. Anne handles her public casting off and humiliation well (imagine the embarrassment of knowing a fat old smelly king who repulses you has openly told the court he cant bed you as you have slack breasts and a fat belly) and being unable to defend yourself for fear of punishment and death. You can feel the fear of court-no one knows who will be caught in the trap and bedheaded on trumped up charges and everyone seems willing to turn on their friends to escape the axe. Even Katherine was quite likable-at the end of the day she had had no parental authority in her life when growing up and spent her teenage years in idleness with other young girls-who can blame her for becoming a silly wanton intent on nothing but her own pleasure. I shuddered with repulsion alongside her when she has to endure the kings public groping and when she had to lie with him in a bed and try to conceive a child ( as her future depended on it) though he is well past the ability and must have made her want to vomit (being about twenty stone, smelly, with a fuss filled leg that constantly oozed and stank) urghhhh. None of the three women get any choice in their life `We are all players in this game, but we do not choose our own moves'. One of those books that made me want to read more on the Tudor queens and even the notorious Jane Rochaford and discover more about their life and times.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    "So, he is dead at last. The man who failed the promise of his youth, the king who turned tyrant, the scholar who went mad, the beloved boy who became a monster. How many did the king kill? We can start to count now that death has stilled his murderous will. Thousands. No one will ever know. Up and down the land the burnings in the marketplace for heresy, the hangings at the gallows for treason. Thousands and thousands of men and women whose only crime was that they disagreed with him. This is t "So, he is dead at last. The man who failed the promise of his youth, the king who turned tyrant, the scholar who went mad, the beloved boy who became a monster. How many did the king kill? We can start to count now that death has stilled his murderous will. Thousands. No one will ever know. Up and down the land the burnings in the marketplace for heresy, the hangings at the gallows for treason. Thousands and thousands of men and women whose only crime was that they disagreed with him. This is the man they call a great king, the greatest king that we have ever had in England." Philippa Gregory is two for two for me so far. Her books, carefully researched interpretations of English history, are like heroin for someone fascinated with Tudor England such as myself. I've stood in those rooms. I've touched those stones. I've studied those people. There are songs that chant what a strange affair Henry VIII was, but never do we stop to think what terror it must have been to live through, especially for those that actually survived. These books make it come alive. Her words open your eyes to this world, which was once as real as the room I sit in now. You can see the dancing, hear the lutes, smell the soot and taste the blood. These characters, once perceived as nothing but small paintings of strained smiles in your history books, breathe new life and weave a web as intricate as it actually was. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It's not quite as good as its predecessor, The Other Boleyn Girl, but just as engrossing. It isn't a quick, light read. I will admit that I stopped and picked up two other novels in the middle. But Gregory rewards those that have stayed faithful through the 400-page mark, and the last 100 or so pages are the definition of "page-turner". Please, Ms. Gregory, keep 'em coming...

  16. 5 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    I enjoy the history of this series more than I do the fictionalization, haha. The author does give a good view into what life would have been like in this time, and in the strata of society that these women move/live in, but I will say that the three narrators of this story could come across as whiny at times, especially Jane, and repetitive at times, but this is the tenth book in the Plantagenet/Tudor novels and I guess the author was getting a bit tired of it? Eh, still a good story, and shift I enjoy the history of this series more than I do the fictionalization, haha. The author does give a good view into what life would have been like in this time, and in the strata of society that these women move/live in, but I will say that the three narrators of this story could come across as whiny at times, especially Jane, and repetitive at times, but this is the tenth book in the Plantagenet/Tudor novels and I guess the author was getting a bit tired of it? Eh, still a good story, and shifting between the three perspectives kept things from getting too stale. 3.5/5 stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    Three women tell us of their lives under King Henry VIII. Duchess Anne of Cleves (Henry's fourth wife), Katherine Howard (Henry's fifth wife) and Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, sister-in-law to Queen Anne (Henry's second wife). Each would have a different Boleyn Inheritance. Anne of Cleves is 24 years old and is the only wife to escape with her head intact. (Queen Katherine of Aragon died from illness, so her head was on her shoulders too.) Young Katherine Howard is married to the King at the age o Three women tell us of their lives under King Henry VIII. Duchess Anne of Cleves (Henry's fourth wife), Katherine Howard (Henry's fifth wife) and Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, sister-in-law to Queen Anne (Henry's second wife). Each would have a different Boleyn Inheritance. Anne of Cleves is 24 years old and is the only wife to escape with her head intact. (Queen Katherine of Aragon died from illness, so her head was on her shoulders too.) Young Katherine Howard is married to the King at the age of fifteen and beheaded at the age of seventeen. Jane Boleyn is the oldest of the three. She will serve all five queens before her beheading. The man behind the machinations is Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. He is the uncle of Katherine and the uncle-by-marriage of Jane. He will sacrifice both women to save his own skin and wealth. I went into this novel blind. I didn't read the blurb. I only selected this book based on its cover and the fact that it is a historical fiction novel. I'm glad I read it. The three stories kept me intrigued throughout the book. I knew Henry VIII's wives by name, mostly. I'm most familiar with the first three wives-- Katherine, Anne and Jane. It was interesting to get a perspective on wives four and five. I knew next to nothing about Jane Boleyn. She was an eye-opener on the politics of Tudor court. The plot was intricate. The description places the reader in Henry VIII's England. I look forward to reading more by Philippa Gregory. I read this novel for A Book for All Seasons challenge #2: Reading Blind

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bookish Ally

    3.75 stars, rounded up to 4. I liked the subject matter, two lesser known queens of HenryVIII, Anne of Cleve and Katharine Howard. We are given a (fictionalization) perspective from Anne, Katherine, and Jane Boleyn, and their relationships to, and with, each other. The traditional view of Howard being a tart that was not the brightest light, was given, and heck, she was executed at 16. Not that her choices or what she may or may not have done had anything to do with her death. Henry was a maniac 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4. I liked the subject matter, two lesser known queens of HenryVIII, Anne of Cleve and Katharine Howard. We are given a (fictionalization) perspective from Anne, Katherine, and Jane Boleyn, and their relationships to, and with, each other. The traditional view of Howard being a tart that was not the brightest light, was given, and heck, she was executed at 16. Not that her choices or what she may or may not have done had anything to do with her death. Henry was a maniac. He was an obese and unpredictable maniac that had a leg with a festering wound that stunk so bad that it perfumed the air around him like a cat box. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would have run towards THAT. By the way, his father was a maniac as well. They all were. Is that why we constantly revisit this horror story? Another good read by Philippa, not her best, but worth the read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    N

    An unevocative retelling of Henry VIII’s doomed marriages to Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. First, I should note that this book contains a lot of paragraphs of the following structure: “Could this book really be so overwritten? I couldn’t believe that this book was so overwritten. It was overwritten and yet I didn’t know why. Why was it so overwritten?” No, really. I’m not exaggerating. I wanted to attack the thing with a red pen. I realize that the trend is for historical novels to be sweepi An unevocative retelling of Henry VIII’s doomed marriages to Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. First, I should note that this book contains a lot of paragraphs of the following structure: “Could this book really be so overwritten? I couldn’t believe that this book was so overwritten. It was overwritten and yet I didn’t know why. Why was it so overwritten?” No, really. I’m not exaggerating. I wanted to attack the thing with a red pen. I realize that the trend is for historical novels to be sweeping and epic, but unfortunately, the rather slight plot of The Boleyn Inheritance did not warrant its 200,000-word heft. The three protagonists (including Anne Boleyn’s sister-in-law, Jane), each describing the events from their own POV, led to a huge amount of repetition – even apart from Gregory’s above-noted love of hammering home her points. Gregory is clearly not a skilled writer. The number of run-on sentences included in the novel demonstrates that quite obviously, but there’s also just not a lot to find interesting in the way that the story is told. The writing is so solipsistic that it squanders the potential of its setting, rarely bothering to describe the beauty and strangeness of Tudor Britain. In conclusion: dull.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shy

    I was first introduced to Philippa Gregory when I watched movie adaptation of one of her novels. The Boleyn Inheritance is actually the third installment in her Tudor series and was preceded by The Constant Princess and The Other Boleyn Girl (The movie was adapted from this novel). I was a bit skeptical while reading the first few chapters of the book but was pleasantly surprised at how good it eventually turned out to be. In The Boleyn Inheritance, King Henry VIII was no longer the handsome, bel I was first introduced to Philippa Gregory when I watched movie adaptation of one of her novels. The Boleyn Inheritance is actually the third installment in her Tudor series and was preceded by The Constant Princess and The Other Boleyn Girl (The movie was adapted from this novel). I was a bit skeptical while reading the first few chapters of the book but was pleasantly surprised at how good it eventually turned out to be. In The Boleyn Inheritance, King Henry VIII was no longer the handsome, beloved young man that we met in The Other Boleyn Girl. He was portrayed as a fat, stinky, mad and paranoid tyrant, who ruled his country with such cruelty. When Anne of Cleves found out that the king chose her to be his forth wife, she treated it as a way to escape herself from her obnoxious brother and mother. Little did she knows what she got herself into and the devastating mistake she made during her first acquaintance with the king caused him to hate her ever since. In the Court, she met Katherine Howards, a very young, witty, naive lady-in-waiting, who was willing to do anything for few pairs of gowns, ribbons and jewelries. There was also Jane Boleyn, head of Queen's privy chamber, who was responsible for the death of her own husband and sister-in-law and also one who never hesitate to put others' head on the block for her own personal gain. This is the story about betrayal, backstabbing and political game that creates a question of who will be sustained enough to survive it in the end? The thing that I love most in this book was the way it was narrated from three different viewpoints. Yes, some people might find it repetitive but in my opinion, it is fascinating to see the same plot being played in the mind of three different persons. It sort of acquaints us with these different personalities and make us understand further on what their personal intentions might really be. In term of character development, most of them are somewhat one dimensional but this is completely understandable because I believe it would be hard to let a historical figure evolves without deviating too far from the original fact of the story. The book was beautifully written until at some points, I feel like I can see them dancing, hear the music, feel the fear and smell the unpleasant scent of blood. Definitely a book that shouldn't be missed by any fans of historical fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*

    4.5 Frankly this book was fascinating. I don't read historical novels so this was a new genre for me. Sure, some of it was invented of course, the author only has so much to go on, but I think she did pretty well with her own inventions blending with historical facts. Thanks to the back of the book, and if you know anything about the history of it at all, you know who will marry who and what will eventually happen. Still, it was not repetitive and the plot was well-paced. Gregory does a good job 4.5 Frankly this book was fascinating. I don't read historical novels so this was a new genre for me. Sure, some of it was invented of course, the author only has so much to go on, but I think she did pretty well with her own inventions blending with historical facts. Thanks to the back of the book, and if you know anything about the history of it at all, you know who will marry who and what will eventually happen. Still, it was not repetitive and the plot was well-paced. Gregory does a good job creating suspense with events when many know what will happen anyway. The blend of religious growths and cycles, political maneuvering, and the inner workings of the kingdom and select group created a dynamic, engrossing story. I took a brief break from reading it last night to do some research on the wives of Henry VIII, as it spurred my curiosity for what really went down. At first when reading the book I was annoyed by the often changing of viewpoints, but this became easier in time. All the characters were fascinating in their own ways, and my heart felt more for Anne. They all shared traits, but differences as well, connected to each other in various ways, responsibilities, and betrayals. I have no idea if Henry was as stated in the book at that time - I imagine much of it is likely. I have to consider too that with how sick he was in the book, and how this was backed up by research when I did it, that it must have played a large part in his growing madness, moodiness, and severe actions. To have your leg slowly rotting for years and the painful things they had to do to it, the gout and chronic constipation, the rotting teeth (yech!), and all the ongoing politics constantly surrounding the kingdom, it's less of a surprise. There is violence in the book but it's more mentally disturbing than visceral, and there's not much of it. The ending is dramatic and well played, leaving a hollow feeling but sticking as close to the source material as you should. Again not something I usually read, so I'm delighted it was so engrossing, well-written in a lovely literary style, engaging with plot twists, bizarre hidden layers of people involved, and surprises.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Orsolya

    This was one of my first Gregory books read and still one of my favorites. Henry VIII's wives are still a topic which capture's the imaginations of many people and the entertainment world (ie films, TV, etc). The Boleyn Inheritance is a glimpse into the world of the "other" wives after the (in)famous Anne Boleyn and her sister-in-law Jane Parker (Lady Rochford) who went to her grave for helping Catherine Howard commit adultery. Gregory created a magnificent read which tells the stories of wives This was one of my first Gregory books read and still one of my favorites. Henry VIII's wives are still a topic which capture's the imaginations of many people and the entertainment world (ie films, TV, etc). The Boleyn Inheritance is a glimpse into the world of the "other" wives after the (in)famous Anne Boleyn and her sister-in-law Jane Parker (Lady Rochford) who went to her grave for helping Catherine Howard commit adultery. Gregory created a magnificent read which tells the stories of wives after Anne. Each is depicted with rather strong historical accuracy and the characters are brought to life before your eyes. Each has a strong personality which will linger with you after you finish the book and read other ones on the wives of Henry VIII. Basically, it is a strong novel. The section of Lady Rochford are a bit lacking in my opinion; being the least colorful, but to give Gregory some credit, not much information exists on her personality (no diaries, letters, etc) versus her actions as a lady-in-waiting. The world of Gregory and the Tudors is always a dramatic one and this is no exception. Fun and intelligent; a must-read for Tudor fans.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    This was good. I like the merging of the stories of Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn and Queen Kitty. The women have such vastly different temperaments makes for a nice balance. I expected Three Sisters, Three Queens to be more similar in format to this novel. I appreciate the sympathetic portrait of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. History has not been kind to her. Jane's a small person but the author does attempt to add depth to this much maligned person.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bunny

    When I realized it was this book's turn on the list (I keep about 15 or so books in my car out of the library at a time, and go by order of the list on the library's site), I really wasn't excited. I considered returning it and thinking about picking it up later. I'm glad I didn't. I really, really enjoy Gregory's style of writing, I have to admit. It's extremely easy to read, which isn't so easy when dealing with historical fiction. I did not sympathize even a little bit with Katherine Howard. I When I realized it was this book's turn on the list (I keep about 15 or so books in my car out of the library at a time, and go by order of the list on the library's site), I really wasn't excited. I considered returning it and thinking about picking it up later. I'm glad I didn't. I really, really enjoy Gregory's style of writing, I have to admit. It's extremely easy to read, which isn't so easy when dealing with historical fiction. I did not sympathize even a little bit with Katherine Howard. I did feel bad for Anne of Cleves, but since I'm a google whore, I knew she wouldn't die, so it was a little easier to read her parts. I understand that there are Jessica Simpson-esque women throughout history, but I was really under the impression that in the 1500's and such, young women weren't quite as flaky as they are now. Katherine Howard could well have been plucked from the mall of today and placed in Henry's court, for how she acted. I don't know how much of that I buy. She certainly did irritate me like the women of today. Henry's descent into madness was well played, but god, if I had to hear about the damn constipation, the rotten teeth, the fat, the pus in his leg one more time, I was going to slam the book shut. I can handle anything one time, but 25? The ending chapters, with Jane and Katherine going back and forth, were my personal favorite parts. I snuck and read them this morning at work. It wasn't like, "Oh, do they survive?! Do they survive?!" I just liked seeing their individual reactions to the axe. Jane Boleyn was a bitch, man. Her insanity was wickedly fun, though. And I don't mean just at the end.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Well have taken a break from reading (I do that periodically when I get a string of disappointing reads and have no time to go library--been using lunch breaks to exercise but am again realizing I must excercise my mind too:) Anyways back to this glorious book..I must say I was pleasantly surprised by Mrs Gregory as I LOVED the book and movie The Other Boleyn Girl and so was hyped to read a tale of what happened after all that? In this book you learn the status of the poor beheaded Queen Anne's Well have taken a break from reading (I do that periodically when I get a string of disappointing reads and have no time to go library--been using lunch breaks to exercise but am again realizing I must excercise my mind too:) Anyways back to this glorious book..I must say I was pleasantly surprised by Mrs Gregory as I LOVED the book and movie The Other Boleyn Girl and so was hyped to read a tale of what happened after all that? In this book you learn the status of the poor beheaded Queen Anne's sister Mary and her daughter, all about the foolish fat old king Henry the Eighth, the next queens to the throne Anne of Cleves and silly Katherine and of course what happened to the vindictive and pure evil Jane Boleyn whose testimony clenched the jury to behead her own husband and sister in law the Queen.. In this book you get into the beginnings of new chapters for three women whose lives are intertwined with the mystery, glamour and treachery of King Henry's court..there is the politcial dealings of England, the thoughts, fears and hopes of three women trying to make themselves and all the romance and fancy of a dramatic pageturner..this book has it all and is highly recommended only after you have read The Other Boleyn Girl AND seen the movie:) Historical drama at its best, rich with description, emotion, passion and a confrontation near the end that left me speechless (Jane Boleyn and her Uncle the Duke of Norfolk spoke so cruelly and so eloquently the hairs on my arm stood up...bravo well written and completly engrossing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Philippa Gregory dropped the ball on this one. This book covers the reigns of Henry VIII's fourth and fifth wives, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. I have enjoyed most of her other books covering the Tudor years in England, but here she leans on the device of having three narrators to lengthen a less-developed story by having them repeat the same ideas over and over. If I had a nickel for every time a character mused some version of "Henry VIII is a selfish, smelly, fat tyrant with a noxious Philippa Gregory dropped the ball on this one. This book covers the reigns of Henry VIII's fourth and fifth wives, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. I have enjoyed most of her other books covering the Tudor years in England, but here she leans on the device of having three narrators to lengthen a less-developed story by having them repeat the same ideas over and over. If I had a nickel for every time a character mused some version of "Henry VIII is a selfish, smelly, fat tyrant with a noxious leg wound," I'd be a rich woman.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen’s Library

    Another captivating novel of Tudors, this one of King Henry the VIII's wives #4 and 5. As usual with Gregory's books, I could barely put this down today until I finished.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    The king, who believes he is guided by God, has become a god with the full power of life and death. That’s it. That’s the book. Okay. I’m kidding. That’s not just the book, but it’s a large part of it. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Philippa Gregory. Sure, she’s a good writer. She knows how to capture the time period and all that, but she does it in a way that’s highly historical inaccurate to just get interest in the times. To me, Tudor England was interesting enough without people needing The king, who believes he is guided by God, has become a god with the full power of life and death. That’s it. That’s the book. Okay. I’m kidding. That’s not just the book, but it’s a large part of it. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Philippa Gregory. Sure, she’s a good writer. She knows how to capture the time period and all that, but she does it in a way that’s highly historical inaccurate to just get interest in the times. To me, Tudor England was interesting enough without people needing to take liberties. However, I enjoyed this one. The pacing was a bit off, to be honest. 500 pages and over halfway through, Katherine had finally become queen. That’s a long time for set up. Then, by 84% they were starting to have Henry realize that Katherine might not be as faithful as he believes. A few hundred pages could have been cut out. But, I really did like it. The way Ms. Gregory captured the three main characters was absolutely brilliant in their own way, and that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Anne Anne of Cleves is a girl who has had an unfortunate upbringing. Father who went mad, overbearing brother, a mother who doesn’t really love her. Marriage, to her, is an escape. And what could be a better marriage than to the King of England? Keeping her head just might be. Poor sick old man, I would have given much to be able to tell him not to worry, that it will come out all right, that I do not want a young handsome prince, that I will be kind to him. At this point in Henry VIII’s life, he has had three wives. All of them are dead. His first, Katherine of Aragon, died from what appeared to be poisoning. Her heart was black when the performed an autopsy. (Now they’ve determined it was most likely cancer that killed her. Cancer of the heart. She died of her broken heart.) The second, Anne Boleyn, Henry sent to the executioner along with a slew of other men on trumped up charges. His third wife died giving birth to the much longed for son – his bastard had died a little bit after Anne Boleyn, meaning the only heirs to the throne were his daughters, who he went back and forth about them being legitimate – from a fever that had killed Henry’s own mother. That aside, he had a wound that was forever open on his leg, leaking pus and blood; and he was morbidly obese. What a match for a young girl barely twenty, right? However, Anne wanted to make the best of her marriage. After a disastrous meeting, Henry decides he doesn’t want her and decides to put her aside. Either he’ll do it by killing her or divorcing her. Anne of Cleves was a practical woman. She chose to make the best of this situation. Accepting the divorce and the lands that came with it, all while conforming herself to the will of a changeable king. I shall live my own life and please myself. I shall be a free woman. It is no small thing, this, for a woman: freedom. In the end, she was the only one who remained alive. One thing that I absolutely loved about Anne, or now Ms. Gregory wrote Anne, was how strong she was. Sure, her POV wasn’t entirely needed for the story, and cutting it out probably would have been better for the story as a whole, but it was nice to see her side of things. Another thing I loved was the friendship between Katherine and Anne. Anne genuinely cared about Katherine, and pitied her. They both understood each other better than anyone else, no matter what their upbringing was. Both of them were wed to a man they didn’t want. Jane I have seen this before – my God – so many times. I have been at Henry’s court since I was a maid and Henry was a boy, and I know him: a boy in love, a man in love, and now an old fool in love. I saw him run after Bessie Blount, after Mary Boleyn, after her sister Anne, after Madge Shelton, after Jane Seymour, after Anne Bassett, and now this: a pretty child. I know how Henry looks when he is besotted: a bull, ready to be led by the nose. He is at this point now. If we Howards want him, we have him. He is caught. Then comes Jane Boleyn, the wife of the late George Boleyn, who was executed for adultery, treason, and incest with his sister the queen. Somehow, she survived. In this, she survived by giving evidence that sent them to the block. However, she claims not to realize what she had done. And, again, she does her best to save her own skin and further her interests. And, if I’m honest, I may keep my own head up by pushing another down and snatching at their air. In a shipwreck, it is every drowning man for himself. She is completely willing to do anything for herself. Whether that’s let someone take the fall for something she did or not. Honestly, she’s a Slytherin. If I ever knew one, Jane Boleyn – as she’s portrayed in this – is a Slytherin. Utterly ambitious. That’s what makes her so lovely. However, Ms. Gregory threw in a soft side that rounded out her character and fleshed it out so she wasn’t just some evil plotting bitch throughout her book. Jane Boleyn is stuck in the past. If I stand at the rear of the royal box and half close my eyes, I can see the ghosts today. I can see Queen Katherine leaning forward and waving her hand to her young husband. […] I step to one side, and a ray of sunshine peeping through a gap in the awning dazzles me; for a moment I can see Anne at the front of the box, my Anne, Anne Boleyn with her head flung back in laughter and the whine line of her throat exposed. She’s haunted by what she’s done, by the knowledge that things she said sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. Everywhere she looks is a memory that she longs to get rid of. Her role in the book is bridging the past and present together. She loves her dead husband completely, and denies what role she played in his death because she simply can’t face what she did. If that’s not sad, then I don’t know what is. Katherine She is a foolish, frivolous little thing, but she has the cleverness of a stupid girl, since, like any stupid girl, she thinks about only one thing, and so she has become very expert in that. And the one thing she thinks about? All the time, every moment of every day, Kitty Howard thinks about Kitty Howard. When Jane and her other plotters realize what way Henry’s taking, in comes Katherine Howard, who becomes his ill-fated fifth wife. In this, Ms. Gregory chooses to go with the younger side of things. When she marries Henry, she’s barely 15. And what fifteen-year-old girl wouldn’t be focused on herself? At that age, although I’m not a girl, I was more focused on myself and my feelings and my things than anything else. Ms. Gregory captured that perfectly. “You are not to give him the least idea that he could make you his mistress. He has to honor you, Katherine, as if you were a young lady fit only for marriage. Can you do that? “I don’t know,” I say. “He is king. Doesn’t he know everybody’s thoughts anyway? Doesn’t God tell him?” “God help us, the girl is an idiot,” my uncle mutters. Everyone thinks that Katherine’s an idiot. Everyone does. But, she sees things and notices things, just different things than everyone else would notice. She might not know how to read or write, let alone any foreign languages, but what she does know is how to get a man. And, boy has she had many men. By eleven, she’d practically been molested by a man. By fourteen, she’d been “married” and bedded by another. (I put married in quotations because I don’t think what they did really was a marriage.) That’s all before she meets the King. It is not nice to lead on a man who is old enough to be my father, almost old enough to be my grandfather. It is not very nice to have his fat hand rubbing at my breasts and his stinking mouth all over my face. But I must remember that he is the king, and he is a kind old man and a sweet, doting old man, and I can close my eyes most of the time and pretend that it is someone else. By fifteen, she’s married to a fifty-year-old man who lusts after her, yet can’t get it up anymore. Pus filled wound, smells like a rotting thing and death. Ugh. No one would envy Katherine for what she has to do. Yet, she puts on a smile and does her job. “Nobody tells me anything except that I have to please him. And I have to do that.” She has no choice in the matter. Has to marry him, has to do her wifely duty, has to do anything that he wishes. And, she has to get with child. Or, as we would put it in our modern speak: she needs to get preggo. Except, if the king can’t get it up no matter what she tries, how can she do even that? (I’ll get to that bit later in the review.) In the end, she is executed alongside Jane for treason and adultery, the man she committed that sin with dead as well along with one innocent of at least adultery. Sixteen years old and dead, with no chance of really living or being able to get out of that self-centered way of life. Historical Inaccuracies Now, this leaves us to my favorite part. Or, well, the parts that you usually see in my status updates complaining about. However, this time there weren’t too many and they weren’t too huge. At least, not big enough to bother me. 1. Anne’s family. I’m not too clear on her family, but I honestly don’t think that her brother lusted after her – because, let’s face it, that scene with her getting whipped and her brother watching was incest-y and weirdly erotic – or that her mother hit her. Liberties were definitely taken with that part. 2. Jane having a child. Over the ten years that Jane and George Boleyn were married, there was no count of them having any children. So, if she was pregnant and in her eighth month at the time of his death, that would have been mentioned. It would have been too juicy for court gossip not to pick up or for the ambassadors not to have put in their letters about what was going on. 3. Thomas raping a woman in his past, and being pardoned for the rape and murder of the woman’s husband. Now, that’s straight out of The Tudors. This book came before that, so after watching The Tudors and absolutely hating that scene, I know where they got it from. There’s no historical basis with it at all. None whatsoever. (Same with George Boleyn raping Jane on their wedding night, George being gay, Anne and George having sex so she could have a son to pass off as the king’s, or Jane actually hating her husband. But, that’s another story and another rant.) 4. Jane’s plot to get Katherine with child. As I said earlier, I was going to go on with this one in more detail. There’s no historical basis that Jane and the Duke of Norfolk, her uncle, plotted to arrange the affair between Katherine and Thomas Culpepper just so they could get her with child and pass that child off as the king’s. None at all. HOWEVER. It’s not unbelievable. Anyone who knows history or has read some fiction books about this time period would know that the Howards/Boleyn/whoever else you lump in faction were highly ambitious, so doing something like that wasn’t too hard a reach. I actually enjoyed that part because it honestly made sense of the history. All in all, a good book, and it was a huge step up than The Other Boleyn Girl.

  29. 5 out of 5

    JG (The Introverted Reader)

    The Boleyn Inheritance is the story of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife; Jane Boleyn, her lady-in-waiting and Anne Boleyn's former sister-in-law; and Katherine Howard, a beautiful young maid-in-waiting. By now, Henry is a hugely fat, sick, stinking, paranoid tyrant. These three women try their best to keep him happy and stay safe. I went into this knowing only a tiny bit of these ladies' stories. Sovereign , by C.J. Sansom, is set around this time and the tempestuous life at court was di The Boleyn Inheritance is the story of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife; Jane Boleyn, her lady-in-waiting and Anne Boleyn's former sister-in-law; and Katherine Howard, a beautiful young maid-in-waiting. By now, Henry is a hugely fat, sick, stinking, paranoid tyrant. These three women try their best to keep him happy and stay safe. I went into this knowing only a tiny bit of these ladies' stories. Sovereign , by C.J. Sansom, is set around this time and the tempestuous life at court was discussed a little bit. Even knowing how this turned out generally, I found myself getting nervous along with the women as Henry's moods turned for the worse. I was sitting there thinking, "Okay, I know this happened. Right? So it's okay. But what if I'm wrong? I could be wrong. I'm so glad I didn't live in this time." And it was an emotional roller coaster all the way through. I was cautiously optimistic when Henry was happy. I got nervous when he got sick or grumpy. When he was bed-ridden or in a foul mood, I would have bitten my nails with anxiety if I were a nail biter. Aside from that, the women came to life for me in these pages. Little Kitty especially. She reminded me of Eartha Kitt singing "Santa Baby." "Slip a sable under the tree--for me. I've been an awful good girl." That was pretty little Kitty. Another character compared her to a magpie, collecting shiny things. That fit too. She was vain and couldn't think of anyone or anything outside herself and her wants, but I couldn't help but like her. There was no true malice in her. Every one of her chapters started off with, "Let me see, what do I have?" and then she enumerated her possessions. It sounds terrible, I know, but really I just had to smile at this fourteen-year-old girl and her vanity. I was surprised that I liked Jane Boleyn as well as I did. I remember what she got up to in The Other Boleyn Girl , and even in Sovereign she was a mean, scheming thing. She was still definitely a schemer, but being inside her head, I saw that she wasn't quite "right," and she was being manipulated even more than she was manipulating. I mostly liked her too. Anne was the one who really shone for me. I had an idea of her as an awkward, frumpy woman who was probably pretty unpleasant. Here, she was awkward from shyness, but I liked her for her resoluteness and her desire to be free. Free to be her own person. I enjoyed watching her inward journey from the abused middle sister of the Duke of Cleves to becoming the Queen of England. In the end, she became a woman I would like to know in real life. As for the Duke of Norfolk--!! I'll just say that if half the stuff I've read in historical fiction is true, there must be a special pit in hell for that man. He'll gamble anything to gain power in court, as long as he himself doesn't have to pay the price. Forget him having your back. He'll shove you under the bus when you're not looking. He was awful. The only thing that really bothers me about these books is that I'm never entirely clear as to where the "historical" part ends and the "fiction" begins. That's not really the author's fault. She does explain a little at the end about what she knows is real, what she thinks might have happened, and what she blatantly made up. One of these days I'm going to have get brave and pick up a real history on the Tudors.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jemma

    If you’ve seen my review of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ you’ll know it’s not an understatement to say I was besotted by it; hence my quick acquisition of its follow on title ‘The Boleyn Inheritance.’ I think my 4 stars (not to mention devouring it within three days) speak volumes in what I found upon reading this book; another gem in my historical literature collection. Events have scurried onwards to 1539, when Henry VIII is seeking his fourth wife after the tragic death of Jane Seymour. We soon le If you’ve seen my review of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ you’ll know it’s not an understatement to say I was besotted by it; hence my quick acquisition of its follow on title ‘The Boleyn Inheritance.’ I think my 4 stars (not to mention devouring it within three days) speak volumes in what I found upon reading this book; another gem in my historical literature collection. Events have scurried onwards to 1539, when Henry VIII is seeking his fourth wife after the tragic death of Jane Seymour. We soon learn the intricate politics behind a royal marriage and the hardships and expectations that it puts on the women of the time. This riveting fiction guides us through the emotions beneath the actions, the faces behind the names and the juicy details attached to the scandals. Though it has to be said that I am slightly disappointed that Gregory skipped the brief reign of Queen Jane, this does nothing to diminish the plot in which we are presented with. Gregory skilfully guides us through her tale with three separate narratives by three entirely contrasting women; Henry VIII’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves, his next wife Katherine Howard and the slightly unhinged Jane Boleyn, widow of the brother of Anne Boleyn. It’s important to note that this style of writing differs hugely from ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, though once you are familiar with it, it becomes equally as absorbing. Whilst I wholly enjoyed this read, it did lack some of the magic and allure of its predecessor; however I feel this is much more to do with the historical events it is based on than a decline in talent on Gregory’s behalf. Life at court has become dangerous for all who attend, as King Henry becomes progressively more paranoid and tyrannical. The glamour and youth present in the previous book has been replaced by fear and menace; nobody is safe from the King’s wrath and suspicion. That being said, every page is still packed full of intrigue, desire and treachery and never is there a dull moment. My passion with this book lies mainly in the fundamental topic of female freedom in a male dominated world. The final chapter is as inspiring as it is uplifting, though it does follow some powerful devastation in which our women learn that the game of love has higher stakes than any. This was a fantastic and touching book, and I must apologise for the many comparisons I have drawn between it and ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ – it is merely because both have made such an impression on me. Whether in comparison or as a standalone novel, ‘The Boleyn Inheritance’ is without doubt one of the most beautiful and captivating reads I have come across, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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