The Boleyn Inheritance
❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎
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.
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.
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.
Where I loved The Constant Princess, it took me a little while to get into The Boleyn Inheritance. Part of my problem with this was the separation of narrative – I was immediately drawn to three different characters, none of whom I found immediately interesting. It was not until about halfway through the book, after Kitty Howard was already on the throne, that I began to care in the least about Anne of Cleves, whose fight to survive entrapped me, and I knew already Kitty’s fate (even though I have not thoroughly studied the Tudor dynasty, there was really only one end which Kitty could have met).
Gregory admits that she has taken certain liberties with the narrative of all three women – instead of presenting Anne as “ugly”, Kitty as “stupid”, and Jane as “evil,” she has allowed all three of them speculative, complex backstories. History has a habit of laying out people in the plainest, briefest way imaginable – good historical fiction takes those cold, hard facts and builds the complexity that is a human being around them, and that dance is one whose steps Gregory has mastered.
I think that the flow in this novel was not as masterful as her previous ones, because the first half of the book moved incredibly slowly. I understand that Gregory’s aim was to make this story about the “inheritance” and not about the queens themselves, but even them I feel as though those book could have been two. Nonetheless, Gregroy did a fantastic job creating sympathetic characters out of those who have been stereotyped and have little definitive fact known about them. For me, it is the characters that mean the most, and I believe that Gregory did an honor to three women who have had only dishonor shown to them. After all… all the people who know the REAL truth about any of these ladies is long dead….
I give her three stars, only because the first 200 pages were a struggle for me to get through. It’s still good historical fiction, but it isn’t comparable to some of her other works.
Good by the end, but a little rough to get into. I liked Jane?
This book was lent to me by a coworker, Cindy, once I finished The Constant Princess with all sorts of thumbs up. I have since purchased my own copy.
“It is hot today, the wind blows over the flat fields and marshes with the stink of the plague.”
Some of My Favorite Quotes
“I will own a cat and not fear being called a witch; I will dance and not fear being named a whore. I shall ride my horse and go where I please. I shall soar like a gyrfalcon. 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.”
“Good God, what men can do to their brains when their cocks are hard. It is truly amazing.”
“When I was first at court and he was the young husband of a beautiful wife, he was a golden king. They called him the handsomest prince in Christendom, and that was not flattery. Mary Boleyn was in love with him, Anne was in love with him, I was in love with him. There was not one girl at court, nor one girl in the country, who could resist him. Then he turned against his wife, Queen Katherine, a good woman, and Anne taught him how to be cruel.”
“I can’t think why men would believe that it is a better world where something beautiful is destroyed and something broken left in its place.”