49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne of Cleves was a wonderful narrator
The Boleyn Inheritance was my second Philippa Gregory book and I enjoyed it even more than the first (The Other Boleyn Girl). I loved seeing how things panned out, depending on which side of the fence the narrator was on, and I really felt like I knew the characters and their motivation by the end. The end just came too soon for me. I'd have liked it to carry on and...
Published on 10 Jun 2008 by Me read
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much better than 'The Other Boleyn Girl'
I found Philippa Gregory's sequel to 'The Other Boleyn Girl' to be much better than the original. Unlike 'The Other Boleyn Girl,' 'The Boleyn Inheritance' is much more historically accurate and it also tells the story from the point of view of three different women, rather than from only one - the pretty uninteresting Mary Boleyn, who was the narrator in 'The Other Boleyn...
Published 22 months ago by Claire Lewis
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne of Cleves was a wonderful narrator,
This review is from: The Boleyn Inheritance (Paperback)The Boleyn Inheritance was my second Philippa Gregory book and I enjoyed it even more than the first (The Other Boleyn Girl). I loved seeing how things panned out, depending on which side of the fence the narrator was on, and I really felt like I knew the characters and their motivation by the end. The end just came too soon for me. I'd have liked it to carry on and on, especially Anne's part.
Anne's and Katherine's chapters were more entertaining than Jane's but that's probably because Jane's chapters/thoughts/narration were primarily about her own self inflicted torment and delusions over her husband's and Anne Boleyn's betrayal. Her narrative had a definite air of madness about it as the story progressed. By the end she was a broken woman and I don't doubt she was as mad as box of frogs. I don't pity her though.....well, not much anyway.
I love that I feel I know these women a little better now (albeit in a fictional way) and will look out for other fictional works which cover the Tudors.
King Henry was vividly repulsive in the pages, to the point where I swear I could smell the supporating wound on his leg every time I opened the pages. At best he was delusional, at worst he was a maniac and I wonder how anyone could bear to be around him.
All in all it's a great read, I just hope I can find a worthy bedtime read to replace it, now it's finished. That's the worst part of a good book.....it's over too soon.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much better than 'The Other Boleyn Girl',
This review is from: The Boleyn Inheritance (Paperback)I found Philippa Gregory's sequel to 'The Other Boleyn Girl' to be much better than the original. Unlike 'The Other Boleyn Girl,' 'The Boleyn Inheritance' is much more historically accurate and it also tells the story from the point of view of three different women, rather than from only one - the pretty uninteresting Mary Boleyn, who was the narrator in 'The Other Boleyn Girl.' 'The Boleyn Inheritance' picks up three years after the end of 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and it tells the story of the years between 1539 and 1542 through the eyes of two queens and a lady-in-waiting - Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard (nicknamed Kitty in this novel) and Jane Boleyn, who readers might remember as being the wife of George Boleyn in 'The Other Boleyn Girl.' Each woman is a very different personality, with a very different agenda and I really enjoyed the contrast between their three voices - nice Anne, ditzy Kitty and manipulative Jane. 'The Boleyn Inheritance's' best bits are that it really captures how terrifying it must have been to be living in Henry VIII's court and to be a woman in the 16th century. I felt at times the author maybe overdid Kitty's stupidity and pushed the point a bit too far, which became a little bit annoying at some points. The bit where Anne of Cleves dreamed of a world without kings seemed a bit strange to me too, since it's pretty much impossible that a sixteenth century princess would be able to imagine a world like that and it pulled me right out of the novel and its setting and made me think of Philippa Gregory and the 21st century, rather than Anne of Cleves and the sixteenth. Still, overall 'The Boleyn Inheritance' was an enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend it!
106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent research + convincing characterisation = great novel!,
This novel, like many of Gregory's, is different to the majority of historical fiction floating around. Her research is extensive and her creative license is therefore built upon a real historian's detective work. The book focuses on Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn and the chapters are divided between their three voices as the story unfolds. This is where the genius of the book lies. Elsewhere, the two Queens are normally dealt with in a more perfunctory way than even Henry VIII himself did. Gregory however skilfully gives them a realistic and sustained voice as women. Katherine Howard is characterised so well that the first time I reached one of 'her chapters' I smiled and fully, finally, recognised an authentic voice for her after years of reading Tudor history.
The strength of characterisation and the choice to give a voice to women usually passed over in this story as brief 'middle' wives before Henry finally expired whilst married to Katherine Parr is what makes this novel so potent. I read it in two days.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read,
This review is from: The Boleyn Inheritance (Paperback)I find Philippa Gregory's novels a little variable, but I really enjoyed this one. It gave a new perspective on three characters about whom I knew little, despite being very well read on the Tudor period. The historical accuracy of some of it is of course questionable, and the author makes no secret of that in her Appendix, but nevertheless it was an interesting and believable account of events seen through the eyes of three very different women.
One reviewer has expresed disappointment that Katherine Howard is portrayed as a silly and vacuous 15-year-old, but I think it very likely that this was a pretty accurate portrayal. It is certainly known that she was practically illiterate, promiscuous and vain, and that her only assets were her looks. It is difficult in this account to feel much sympathy for her most of the time, but we must remember that her ignorance meant that she was manipulated by her unscrupulous uncle for political ends and paid a huge price.
Anne of Cleves comes across as an intelligent, thoughtful and discreet woman, who had a very lucky escape. One feels a certain sympathy for her, in that she was forced into exile, still only in her 20s, and never able to marry, but at least she was spared having to live with an increasingly deranged King, and she kept her head! The one aspect of this book which I didn't think rang true was the much-repeated assertion that Anne's life was at risk while the King was still alive. This seems unlikely, because once she had been divorced from the King she was no threat to him and it seems unlikely that he would have risked the consequences of getting rid of her. In fact it is generally believed that she and the King got on well after the divorce and she was very friendly with his children. However, Anne did live in dangerous times, and it is interesting to see the King through her eyes, because while she herself is careful to keep on his good side and not 'rock the boat' she observes in private that he is mad and becoming more so. While it is well known that Henry VIII was quite a brutal King, especially later in his reign, the descent into madness is a new perspective.
The third character, Jane Boleyn, is a very complex one. She is totally self-absorbed, haunted by the past, by her betrayal of her sister-in-law Anne Boleyn and her own husband which led to their execution, although she seems to show little remorse. She is obviously not to be trusted and is sly and manipulative, and uses and betrays people for her own ends. No-one likes or trusts her except the naive young Katherine, who knows no better, and she ends up without friend or advocate, always teetering on the edge of madness. In the end she pays the price and it is difficult to feel much sympathy for her.
I really enjoyed the characterisations and the way in which this book gave the reader a real sense of how dangerous it was to be close to the King and his court in those times, when a careless word could lead to imprisonment or death. Highly recommended.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's done it again!,
I will read anything that Philippa Gregory writes, however for a long time after I read "The Other Boleyn Girl" I felt rather disappointed by her other books as the story of Anne and Mary Boleyn was simply superb! However, with "The Boleyn Inheritance", Gregory is back on form. I don't know whether it is simply because the Boleyn family were extremely interesting, or whether Gregory just excels at bringing these real historical characters to life, either way you can feel the emotion in the words and that is the sign of a truly great writer!
The story is told through the perspective of three separate women in the court of the elderly King Henry VIII - Jane Boleyn, who readers of "The Other Boleyn Girl" may remember as George Boleyn's wife, Anne of Cleeves, who is Henry's fourth wife and Katherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife, lady in waiting to Anne of Cleeves and cousin to Jane Boleyn. Gregory breathes life into people long gone and whose lives are rather mysterious - other than the time spent either serving or marrying Henry VIII - and this makes for an interesting read as Gregory puts her own spin on the tale.
As a fan of Tudor history, I always thought that there was never much focus on the last three wives of Henry VIII and until now that has sufficed, as Anne Boleyn was probably one of the most intriguing Queens that Britain has ever had! However since reading "The Boleyn Inheritance" I find myself trying to track down material on Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleeves - something that happens only rarely!
I think that the best books are the ones that stay with you after you have finished the last page, the ones you dwell upon and make you want to learn more!
Gregory has succeeded in giving us a novel which teaches and delights at the same time! This is no easy feat for a writer but we all know she is no ordinary writer and is well up to the task of giving us another well researched novel, with real people and real lives set in real times, to sate our appetite! 'Til next time Ms Gregory, because after that wonderful offering I will most definately be back for more!
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best!,
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This novel follows three women, Jane Boleyn (Lady Rochford), Anne of Cleves (Henry VIII's 4th wife) and Katherine Howard (Henry VIII's 5th wife). It follows all three from the time of Anne's marriage to the fateful, and tragic end of Katherine's life. This is just as good as PG's other Tudor novels. Thoroughly gripping until the very end although I didn't find it quite as atmospheric as The Other Boleyn Girl.
All three women are sympathetically drawn. I commend PG for her portrayal of Jane Boleyn (Lady Rochford) because in life she seems to have been a horror of a woman condemning her husband (George Boleyn) and sister-in law (Anne Boleyn) to death but we are able to sympathsise with her in this novel.
Poor Katherine Howard is shown for the poor, silly, vain, girl she was counting her jewels and her gowns. But she was just that: a girl and PG shows this very well. The poor thing.
Anne of Cleves predicament is really felt. This is the queen that everyone forgets. The so-called 'Flanders Mare' but PG makes you question that image. Makes you think about Anne as a sensible, regal woman thrust into a strange country without friends or family to help her.
Finally we can remember just what a tyrant and a bully Henry VIII was! Just how cruel and hideous he was. Just how disgusting he must have really been to these young women, with his piggy eyes and his supperating leg wound. The reader finishes the novel reminded that the Tudor court was not a romantic place to be. It was frightening, claustrophobic, dangerous and deadly. You could trust no-one and confide in nobody.
Brilliant novel! I can't believe I've read it so quick. When's the next one?!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocatively written. Brings history to life.,
This review is from: The Boleyn Inheritance (Paperback)This is my first Philippa Gregory readand I was more than pleasantly surprised. As a teenager I read my mother's Norah Lofts avidly and this reminded me very much of her books, including the ones she wrote on both Anne Boleyn and Kitty Howard. This is also a period of history I studied intensively and, whilst some poetic licence is obviously used (this is history, after all) I was incredibly impressed by how beautifully Gregory draws the characters.
Kitty Howard's youthful self-obsessiveness is wonderfully drawn. Yes, she was a narcissistic, vain and flirtatious little madame but her relative stupidity is very sensitively handled and you cannot help but feel for her as she trips down a path onto which she is beautifully manipulated. Her final fall, with her ignorance of what is about to occur, makes you wince, as well as brings it home forcibly that this was a teenage girl, not yet at our age of consent, whose life ended at 16.
Jane Boleyn was, I felt, also handled with some sensitivity. History portrays her as an evil, vindictive, jealous and traitorous bitch. Yes, she undoubtedly was when her life, and what she did within it, is seen as a series of events. Yet Gregory fleshes her out and ensures that we look beyond these and a little more at the woman herself and what drove her to behave as she did. It is so easy to demonise historical characters and yet who knows how we ourselves could be portrayed 400 plus years down the line?
Anne of Cleves is a personal favourite of mine. A woman who, despite her astounding ignorance of male/female relationships, was intelligent and graceful enough to come away from Henry's proximity with not only her head still on her shoulders but wealthy, independent and well thought of. Far from being a "Flander's Mare", misrepresented by Holbein (highly unlikely), Anne was highly praised for her handling of the situation and, as time went on, her looks as she grew into herself and settled into English life. Gregory portrays all of this very well and it is lovely to see Anne given the attention she deserves.
For all of those who are interested in this period this is a must read. All those who read Norah Lofts eons ago should also give this a go. It is sensitively and carefully written and envelops you in the danger and intrigue of Henry's court. Sometimes, because the period was so full of drama, I think we are in danger of over dramatising it and forget that these women existed just as we did. This book allows your imagination to enter their world, without having it portrayed on a screen in front of you. My only gripe is that I am now going to have to read her other stuff! Oh well, I'll get over it.
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it - Gregory is back on form, couldn't put it down!,
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!,
This book is a wonderful return to form. The book is fantastic. The characters are given great depth and though technically a novel, this book does actually reflect events in the way they actually happened. A wonderful read.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Gregory's ambition perfectly matches her skill as a storyteller,
This review is from: The Boleyn Inheritance (Paperback)Few authors ever attempt what Ms Gregory has managed to accomplish in The Boleyn Inheritance - three first-person, interwoven accounts from the periphery of the Tudor story: the little-known Anne of Cleves, the complete train wreck that was Catherine Howard and - most delightfully to me - a riveting portrayal of Jane Parker from "The Other Boleyn Girl.
Jane was one of the characters from the earlier book who despite being repeatedly described by the major characters as utterly repellent still fascinated me and in The Boleyn Inheritance Ms Gregory does not disappoint. Jane is revealed to be intelligent, astute and in perpetual mourning for her husband George Boleyn. She is also at constant war with her guilt over the part she played in his death and the death of her sister-in-law Anne Boleyn, past the point of self-delusion and beyond to madness.
Anne of Cleves - I have been captivated by her portrait all my life. I always knew there must be much more to this woman than we could ever know and once again Ms Gregory delivers. Anne of Cleve's story is a harrowing and ultimately triumphant look at a soul emerging like a butterfly from the chrysalis of repression.
Thoughout the portrayal of Catherine Howard I found myself alternately cringing and laughing out loud. Always the first to admit her own shallow stupidity, she nevertheless - in one astonishing inner monologue - reveals a sparkling flash of honest insight. The tragedy of her tale is she ploughs on regardless - led onwards, upwards and ultimately downwards by vanity and greed.
Beyond being a fantastically good read, The Boleyn Inheritance is a moving and effective reminder that in every story there are people involved, that each person has their own roster of hopes and fears and that each person is deserving of compassion because of this. Except perhaps for Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. What a pill.
I highly recommend this book.
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The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory (Paperback - 3 Mar 2011)