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The Boleyn Inheritance
By Philippa Gregory

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The Boleyn Inheritance

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The Boleyn Inheritance
By Philippa Gregory
Thorndike Press Large Print (2007)
ISBN 10: 0-7862-9228-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-7862-9228-8
Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Angela Evans - February 19, 2007

The Boleyn Inheritance is another heart-pounding story by Philippa Gregory that is set against the backdrop of the court of Henry VIII. This is a story about a man who falls in love too easily, and when his love fades, it turns to a malicious, deadly hatred. While touched with the essence of a multi-layered love story, this is at its heart a story full of jealously, hatred, betrayal, and palpable fear. Most important, this is a story based on fact, and Gregory wonderfully brings to life not only the ambience and history of the period, but also the emotions and thoughts of some of the women whose lives were shaped by the era in which they lived.

The stories of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard were inextricably intertwined with that of Jane Boleyn (the Lady Rochford). Rochford was a scheming woman who wanted power and did not care who she had to walk over to get it. One of the first causalities of her avarice was her own husband and her sister-in-law Anne Boleyn, who both went to the executioner's block based upon Rochford's testimony. She then went on to become the lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's forth wife. When Henry divorced Anne of Cleves and married the fourteen-year-old Katherine Howard, Rochford continued to wield her power in court affairs.

This absorbing story is told in turn by each of these three women. Gregory ably develops these characters and gives the readers an insider's look at what their lives may have been like - beyond that which has been chronicled in history books. In addition, Gregory full develops Rochford's character. She shows that while Rochford thought that she was working to achieve her own goals, she was in reality nothing more than a pawn of her Uncle who was using her to foster his own ambitions. She also explores the reasons why Anne of Cleeve stayed in England after her divorce, instead of returning to her home in Bavaria. Most telling, she shows how all these women, Howard most of all, were simple pawns in a game played by others. A game with deadly consequences, as Howard and Rochford were to discover. While Henry the VIII is the fulcrum around which the lives of these three women revolved, and while he is ever present in this book, he takes on a surprisingly minor role in this novel.

The Boleyn Inheritance is the latest edition to a series of novels that Gregory has been writing that are set in Tudor England. The other two books in this series are The Other Boleyn Girl and The Constant Princess. While interconnected, each of these books can be read as a stand alone novel. The Boleyn Inheritance, is a bit different from the previous books in the series as it is told from three different viewpoints. This is however, one of the strong points of this book because Gregory gives each woman a distinct voice and you get to see many of the same events from three unique perspectives. Combined, this serves to give you a better understanding of the events depicted and the character's personalities. The Boleyn Inheritance is a must for all of Gregory's fans, and anyone who likes detailed, and well-wrought historical fiction.

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