Archive for Tudors

Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Boleyn Inheritance’

Posted in Books, Philippa Gregory with tags , , , , , , , , on 13 May, 2009 by Nicola

This is only my second outing with Philippa Gregory, and it took me a while to decide that she was worth my time.  The Other Boleyn Girl, was, of course, my first and I had mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I though Philippa a beautiful and intelligent writer, on the other, the content and characterisation irritated me.  Gregory as often stated that her books follow fact but only fills in the gaps where facts are either unknown, uncertain or speculative.  She chooses to fill in these gaps with the most outrageous theories that she can possibly find about these historical figures.  It’s a little bit annoying. 

I can’t quite forgive the heavy hints she made in The Other Boleyn Girl that Anne Boleyn did commit incest with her brother.  That did not make good reading, it made it offensive.  Offensive to Anne’s memory and a mockery of all the historian’s that have found that Anne was executed solely on trumped up charges.  Only the other day I read on a message board from a reader asking if Boleyn really had sex with her brother.  I despair that someone even has to ask that question. Continue reading

Karen Lindsey’s “Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII”

Posted in Books, Henry VIII, History with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3 December, 2008 by Nicola

This is a well researched and written book that gives a gliding over view of each of Henry VIII‘s wives.  Each of the wives, however, are not given equal page space, and as you can well imagine, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn have about four chapters to themselves whilst Jane Seymour has one, but is barely mentioned in it as the author goes on tangents about other things.  After the more fully developed chapters on the two first wives, the other four seemed to be tacked on as almost an afterthought.

This is quite understandable, given how much we know about Seymour, and how much we know about Boleyn and not to mention just how much had to occur to get Boleyn on the throne.  However, Catherine Howard‘s and Katherine Parr‘s chapters are almost neglected, only Parr’s chapter is fleshened out by the authors addition of Anne Askew; a Protestant Martyr.  Whilst very interesting, the author, who did her PhD research project on Anne Askew, has clearly thrown her in Parr’s chapter because the author favours her, and gives her the most tenuous link to Parr to justify it.  Continue reading

Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl”

Posted in Books, Philippa Gregory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

As a big fan of historical fiction, and also a big fan of Tudor history, particularly Anne Boleyn, I was quite excited to pick up this novel that focused on the forgotten tale of Mary Boleyn.  It makes a good, light read, as long as it is not taken seriously.  It is enjoyable for perhaps a reader that is ignorant of the tale of Anne Boleyn, but if they are unfamiliar, they are going to go away with a very dark picture of Henry VIII‘s most famous wife.
The research surrounding the everyday lives of the courtiers is thorough and convincing, as are the details of the buildings, landscape and costumes.  The main problem with this novel is that Gregory is clutching at straws to come up with a story for Mary and fleshing her out as a character, and as such, sacrifices Anne’s character as a two-dimensional super bitch.  Mary is characterised as her opposite, but is problematically modernised for the modern reader.  Many of Mary’s reactions to situations are completely out of context.  Gregory would have done a better job to have made her a woman of her time and made us understand her in her own contemporary society, that way; we would have truly been drawn into their world.
Continue reading