Friday, November 23, 2007

The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory

the boleyn inheritance
philippa gregory
c. 2007
544 pages

This is now the fifth Philippa Gregory novel I have completed. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction writers. There is one more that has already been written into this Tudor series that I have to read, The Virgin's Lover, mostly about Queen Elizabeth and Lord Dudley, I believe. And then she is coming out with a new one next year, The Other Queen, about Mary Queen of Scotts. I will have to aquire that one as well.

One of my absolute favorite things about her books, at least in this series, is how these characters are seen in multiple books and yet they are not the same person. Each story shows a completely different side and characterization of these people leaving them so deep and complex. You see Henry VIII grow from being a child in The Constant Princess, to a handsome and intelligent king in The Other Boleyn Girl, and lastly into crazed old tyrant in The Boleyn Inheritance. Each book tells a different chapter and let's you put another piece into the puzzle that was the reign of the Tudors.

I also love that she is making sure to include everyone. There are only a few people in the family she has yet to really touch on. She is working on Mary, Queen of Scotts. Maybe Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife will be next.

As for this book itself, I thought the characterization of the three women was incredible. As was said in her author's note it is generally accepted that Anne of Cleaves was ugly and Katherine Howard was stupid. This book, instead fleshed them out to let us understand those generalizations. Anne of Cleave's brought with her clothes and customs that were not the norm of England. She was not ugly, just different. In fact, this book continued to remark on her prettiness, even thinking the king might relent and ask for her back. As for Katherine Howard, we see that she was so much stupid as young and uneducated. She was fifteen when the king married her. And she was shown very little love from those who should have been looking out for her. Instead she was used merely as a pawn for her family's, namely her uncle's, advancement.

The fate's of the two queen's were already known by me before reading this book, however that did not stop that small, irrational hope that something could spare Katherine's life. Her odd request of having the block in her cell so that she could practice before she was executed brought tears to my eyes. At least she was prepared as she liked to be.

I was definitely not prepared for the Duke's betrayal of Jane. Her death came as an immense shock to me. I thought she would be just like the Duke and survive when all the others were dead and gone. Not so. The portrayal of those sences was incredible, her death being just as much a shock to the reader as it was to her.

I really hope that when the subject of the Tudor's has been exhausted, Philippa Gregory merely moves on to her next family.


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