Sunday, November 16, 2014

Book Review: The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

This book was part of the series couple with the famous The Other Boleyn Girl. I've always been a big Philippa Gregory fan, and I've read other books by her such as The Virgin Queen,  The King's Fool, The White Queen and the already mentioned The Other Boleyn Girl.When I went to the book fair, I picked up 3 books by her, and The Boleyn Inheritance being one of them.

Philippa did not disappoint! I was a bit put off of the title because I didn't want to read more about Anne Boleyn, but she expertly wraps Anne's history and what it meant for Jane Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleves. Even though this book is historical fiction, it definitely made me rethink who Henry VIII was. Henry VIII is is the most famous king known in popular culture due to his love life, but we only know him with his messy divorce from Katherine Aragon and his disastrous marriage to Anne Boleyn. He is frequently described as young, ginger, tall and very, very handsome.
In other historical fiction novels, movies and TV shows, he cruelly sends Anne to the chopping block and goes on to marry Jane Seymour. In the movies, novels and TV that I've watched, It seems to me that he's always characterized as a heart-broken king who is desperate for an heir. 

That is not the case in this book. When he marries Anne of Cleves, he's old, fat and suffering from gangrene or another type of festering wound in his leg. Through out the book, Philippa details King Henry's madness and shows through first person point of view how the women he marries are the first to feel the brunt.

I was heartbroken for Anne of Cleves because she really did want to do a good job at being queen. I cringed when the king kissed her, and instead of being seen as handsome, he was pushed away in disgust. I wanted her to use her goodness and devotion for a new family, but I knew that she would never be married after her divorce. You almost wanted to shake the king and say to him that Anne was the woman for you!

Katherine Howard was written beautifully. I loved how the tone changed from Anne to Kitty to Jane. Katherine was a very silly girl which makes it even worse when she marries the king. Not only is she unintelligent, she does not have a clue to the dangers that surround her. She is written like a typical teenager who doesn't know her own mortality. 

Finally, Jane Boleyn. Just, wow. I loved the subtly of how Philippa wrote the crazy. Jane Boleyn, who justified her actions as actually saving her husband George and Anne through the Boleyn name and inheritance. When she is carried off to the chopping block at the end and she wants to justify her actions to the court, I was appalled, but I also felt very sorry for her and all the people that she hurt. 

Even though I knew exactly what happened,  I was still in suspense over the progression of the events. When I was reading, I really felt like I was actually in court and almost feared for my life too! I remember romanticizing medieval times, but it must been so scary to live in a place where the king's word was God.

Finally, I liked how Anne was brought up, but I loved the picture she painted about the real criminal--the Duke of Norfolk. A Howard, he let both of his nieces to die as well as Lady Rochford. He is soulless and he gets out of the whole mess scotch free. 

Overall, I really liked the book. It was an easy read about one of the most scandalous times in Medieval England. Philippa wrote about Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, two lesser known victims, I mean wives, of Henry the VIII. If you like historical fiction and you would just want an easy read full of scandal and drama, I would recommend this book. 

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