The Boleyn Inheritance came recommended to me from The History Chicks, which is one of my favourite podcasts.
In The Boleyn Inheritance, Katherine of Aragorn is dead (from neglect and heartbreak they say), Anne Boleyn has been executed, and Jane Seymour is dead from childbirth. King Henry VIII decides to remarry and picks Anne of Cleves, with whom he immediately gets off to a rocky start with. The book is told from the point of view of Anne of Cleves, Jane Rochford / Boleyn, and Katherine Howard.
After the subsequent annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, King Henry VIII married young Katherine Horward. Seriously, the girl was a child – married at 16 or so and executed 16 months later for adultery and treason.
Anne of Cleves was actually the only other wife of King Henry to outlive him, besides his 6th and last wife, Katherine Parr. Sure, he had the marriage annulled but at least she lived.
The Boleyn Inheritance paints a picture of what it might have been like for two of the subsequent wives following the first three very dead wives of Henry Tudor. It is made clear that Henry’s mental stability is increasingly erratic and unpredictable. He has total control over England and the church, so people can’t do much about it. It must have been bloody terrifying dealing with such a powerful and unpredictable man who could have had his wives, friends and advisors executed for mere thoughts (as if he could know someone’s mind).
This is the first Phillipa Gregory novel I have read that told the story from multiple perspectives. Jane Rochford, who was Anne Boleyn’s sister-in-law was an interesting touch because of how she is often portrayed in history; the question being maybe she wasn’t so awful? Greedy and selfish and jealous, yes, but maybe with some redeeming qualities? Although, she too went down with Katherine Howard, so too bad.
I’ve read a number of Phillipa Gregory’s novels now, and all of them have been excellent. No matter where you start, even if it isn’t here (cause, trust me, starting with a book including Anne Boleyn could prove helpful here), I think that her novels are all amazing.
Title: The Boleyn Inheritance
Author: Phillipa Gregory
Publication: December 5, 2006
Page Count: 528
Genre: Historical Fiction