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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

Posted by Irish in Review2 Comments

Publisher: Touchstone Books, Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Year: 2007
ISBN: 074327251X (book), 0007230486 (audio)
Format: Paperback, Audio
Pages: 544
CDs: 15 (18 hours)
Narrators: Bianca Amato, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Ruthie Henshall
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I’ve long had an interest in history which fueled my interest in historical fiction novels. I’ve always been drawn to English history and the story of Henry VIII and his many wives. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve read all the books in Philippa Gregory’s Tudor novels. The first book in the series The Other Boleyn Girl tells the story of Anne, the second queen of England. Subsequent books tell the story of Henry’s daughters, Mary (The Queen’s Fool) and Elizabeth (The Queen’s Fool and The Virgin’s Lover) and Henry’s first wife, Catherine (The Constant Princess). I really enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl but found my interest lagging a bit in The Queen’s Fool….and after The Virgin’s Lover I almost decided to stop the series altogether. The Constant Princess, however, restored my love of the series….this book talks about the early years of Catherine’s life with Henry and ends right around the time in which The Other Boleyn Girl begins.

This book, The Boleyn Inheritance, tells the story of Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleaves and Katherine Howard. Jane is the wife of George Boleyn who was brother to Anne, Henry’s second wife. Jane has the distinction of being a lady in the courts of the two Queen Anne’s as well as Queen Katherine. Anne of Cleaves was Henry’s 4th wife…an arranged marriage with a foreign princess to secure an alliance against enemies of England. There was no love between Anne of Cleaves and Henry and this marriage was very short lived. Katherine Howard was a cousin to Anne Boleyn and Henry’s 5th wife. She was young and the pawn in her families political games.

I listened to this book in its audio form which had three narrators read the parts of the three central characters. The narrative flits back and forth between the three women and the narrators really breath life into each of them. This book brought me back to the love that I felt after reading the first book. I was absorbed in this story from get go and was a little disappointed when it was over. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I listened to this book rather than read it but I was enthralled. I really felt that I had been transported back in time and was wandering the halls of Hampton Court following the paths of Henry VIII and those of his court. My heart broke for Anne when she realized that her marriage was over and she had two choices: accept a divorce and become ‘sister’ to the king or risk her life by fighting for the man she’d come to care for. I was annoyed by Katherine….she was young and immature and Gregory and the narrator really brought that aspect to life in her character. And then there was Jane…the long suffering Jane who was looking for security in an insecure world.

If you liked The Other Boleyn Girl but maybe felt so-so about the other books then you might be interested in this book. The Boleyn Inheritance is a return to all those things that made that first book so wonderful. Next month Gregory has a new book coming out called The Other Queen. This book will tell the story of Mary, Queen of Scots…and if that book is anything like this one then it will be a book to look forward to.

2 Responses to “The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory”

  1. Jill

    I liked The Boleyn Inheritance very much too – especially her depiction of Anne of Cleaves. (Cleeves)?

    Enjoy your Sunday!

  2. Jen - Devourer of Books

    After “The Other Boleyn Girl,” this was definitely Ms. Gregory’s best novel to date (although I have hopes for her forthcoming novel about Mary, Queen of Scots). I just really disliked “The Virgin’s Lover.” What a weak person she made Elizabeth out to be!