At long last,  I’ve managed to finish the book I’ve been toting around during my vacation.  As a wonderful sequel to The Other Boleyn Girl, it centers on three particular women in King Henry VIII’s life after Anne Boleyn.

Author : Philippa Gregory

Copyright : 2006

Publisher : Touchstone

Publishing Date : December 2007

No. of Pages : 570

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5919-1

ISBN-10: 1-4165-5919-1


The Story :

The Boleyn Inheritance is narrated alternately from the perspectives  of three women of importance in King Henry VIII’s life, namely :

Anne of Cleves.   As the fourth wife of King Henry, she is credited with being very close to his children.  As a young girl, Anne yearns to be free of a tyrannical brother and a cold-hearted mother.  She views the proposed marriage arrangement to Henry of  England as an opportune offer of escape from home.  However, an unfortunate incident where Anne angrily rejects a kiss from a disguised King Henry, before all her entourage and his retinue, earns her a growing grudge from Henry which ultimately leads to false accusations of a precontracted marriage and to a consequent annulment and dethronement.

Katherine Howard. As a very young lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne,  Katherine catches the eye of King Henry .  Very soon, she is Henry’s 5th wife and England’s next queen, a teen-aged girl married to an old man.  As fate would have it,  she falls in love with a courtier, Thomas Culpepper.  This affair and her childish dalliances with Francis Dereham prior to court life become her undoing.

Jane Rochford Boleyn. She was wife to George Boleyn and sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn.  A liar and betrayer, it was her testimony which sent her husband and his sister to their deaths in exchange for lands and a title.  She comes back to court life upon the order of her uncle-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, to serve and advise both queens, Anne of Cleves and Katherine, and to serve as his eyes and ears.  She is party to his schemes and encourages Katherine Howard’s affair with Culpepper to get her pregnant.   The hoped-for child would then be passed off as Henry’s progeny and therefore, secure the Howard family’s power and favor with the King.  Her involvement in Norfolk’s political schemes would prove to be her downfall.

After Anne Boleyn’s execution, King Henry grows increasingly manic and dangerously suspicious of everyone.  All three women enter a court life under a miasma of suspicion, fear, and uncertainty.  This is the Boleyn inheritance – a court and a country ruled by a despot whose every whim becomes law.

Author’s Style:

Gregory’s technique of the first person narrative allows readers to get inside the heads of these three factual women, creating a very intimate understanding of who they probably were.  Her strength in character writing humanizes these otherwise one-dimensional historical personages so that we get to know what made them tick.

I cannot  say that the author stuck to all the historical facts.  However, the important ones are true to form.   As with most creative historical novels,  some details have perhaps been modified to suit the fiction.

For those who haven’t read her, expect a light writing style that makes her novels highly readable.  It is precisely this forte that takes  away the tedium of history and renders it very interesting and quite engaging .   This is an author you must try.

The Bottom Line :

Another marvelous read from the queen of Tudor fiction, Philippa Gregory.

My Mark : Outstanding

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Author : George R.R. Martin

I am a huge fan of fantasy novels. My all time favorite is the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, along with the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.

A Song of Fire and Ice series,however, comes as a close second.  Finally, something in the genre that is different and so very refreshing.

What struck me most is its sense of realism.  Mr. Martin makes us taste, see, and feel a world that could have been real.

Descriptions are graphic.  I could almost smell the rotten corpses, and also taste a luscious banquet.  Characters speak the way they would, perhaps, if they existed.  If crude language is called for, Mr. Martin pens it as it should be.  For the guys  out there, there’s plenty of action, blood and gore.  Of course, some magic as well; but, magic hardly figures in anyone’s victories.  It’s still pure guts, smarts, and power that determine the tide.

The books’ strength, however, lies in the characters.  The series does not have fantasy’s usual static good and evil personas.  As in real life,  each has several facets in his personality and these make each character so interesting and multi-dimensional.  No one is really virtuous and no one is wholly evil.  We can identify with all or at least sympathize with all his characters.

How does he accomplish this?  Wonderfully, Mr. Martin devotes each chapter to a selected character.  He makes us get to know the person — how he thinks, what he likes,  why he feels a certain way, his logic and perception of the world, why he does what he does, etc.  No one is cut and dried.  This way, he develops his story and the voyeur in you,  that you just have to have more of it.

Hence, his four thick novels aren’t enough.  I suspect the story may not be even halfway done; but, that’s why George Martin fans are impatiently waiting for the 5th book of the series, promised in 2007  and not yet delivered. GRRRR!!!! We want the 5th!  We want the 5th!

Books in the Series : A Game of Thrones,  A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows

October 4, 2008 Update: Ooooh!  Dance With Dragons, the 5th book is out!  It is not available in my location yet, though. Rats!