Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com
Noelle has been reading Jane The Quene by Janet Wertman
Jane Seymour is one of the Tudor characters about whom I have read little, other than incidentally in stories of Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. The Tudor period has been so over-written, I approached this book with some hesitancy, thinking it would be another rehash of everything I’ve read. I was pleasantly surprised – Jane Seymour comes across as a unique and layered individual, in contrast to the colorless, vapid, and upright woman described in so many other books.
In the England of 1535, Jane Seymour is 27 years old, edging to spinsterhood. She wants more than anything a marriage that will give her a future and a real place in society, but she is a shy and unspoiled woman who manages everything but is only part of the background. When the court of Henry VIII visits Wolf Hall, her family’s manor, she directs the event with such poise and efficiency that she finally gets noticed, and by Henry VIII himself.
Henry’s wife, Anne Boleyn, has become something of a curse to him: he changed England’s religion to divorce his first wife, Queen Katherine, to marry her (both unpopular moves with the English people) and Anne has given him only a girl child, followed by several miscarriages. He is desperate for a son and sees Jane’s honesty and innocence as a means to his redemption as well as a male heir.
Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious man who has, as the King’s clerk, managed to satisfy his every desire, also sees redemption for Henry in Jane and engineers the plot to have her become queen.
The author has woven a story in which we can see Jane as she was before the King’s visit and watch her develop into a confident queen. Her thoughts, fears and experiences through the plot to remove Anne and Anne’s subsequent beheading create a three dimensional person trying to manage the ardor of the King and her new and unprepared- for position at court. Her ambition, nascent at first, grows as she marries Henry and becomes Quene Jane, and I enjoyed the contrast the author made between the sweet story of her early life and encounters with the King and her developing ambition, which seemed to get the better of her as time went on.
As seems normal for the treachery and intrigue of the Tudor court, relatives tend to direct the loves of the women, and in this respect Jane is not different – her brothers regulated her life from the beginning and I was quite thrilled when she finally stood up to them, although she did take their advice to manipulate the king through his affection for her.
There are many unanswered questions about Jane – what were her feelings about the haste with which Anne Boleyn was removed and executed, her unduly swift marriage to the King, her insertion into the Tudor Court and the gossip associated with it. The author does a good job getting into Jane’s thoughts: guilt, joy, and growing strength and ambition. One can only wonder what would have happened if she had not died following childbirth. Would the King have tired of her and moved on?
I will freely admit I did not like the person Jane became as she moved fully into the role of queen. She lost the humility and sweetness that I had come to love about her. But I believe this is probably what would have happened, and the author has the pulse of this character. The historical detail is wonderful and the dialogue smooth, which made this an easy and fun read.
If you like historical fiction and are a fan of the Tudors, this is a good book for you! And I am more than ready for the next book in the author’s trilogy on the Seymours – The Path to Somerset
All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court’s realm of plot and intrigue….
England. 1535. Jane Seymour is 27 years old and increasingly desperate for the marriage that will provide her a real place in the world. She gets the perfect opportunity to shine when the court visits Wolf Hall, the Seymour ancestral manor. With new poise born from this event, it seems certain that her efficiency and diligence will shine through and finally attract a suitor.
Meanwhile, King Henry VIII is 45 and increasingly desperate for a son to secure his legacy. He left his first wife, a princess of Spain, changing his country’s religion in the process, to marry Anne Boleyn — but she too has failed to deliver the promised heir. As Henry begins to fear he is cursed, Jane Seymour’s honesty and innocence conjure redemption. Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious clerk who has built a career on strategically satisfying the King’s desires, sees in Jane the perfect vehicle to calm the political unrest that threatens the country: he engineers the plot that ends with Jane becoming the King’s third wife.
Jane believes herself virtuous and her actions justified, but early miscarriages shake her confidence and hopes. How can a woman who has done nothing wrong herself deal with the guilt of how she unseated her predecessor?
Interesting, Noelle! I enjoyed this book, too, but had more reservations than you, and completely different ones – I liked that Jane was not portrayed as meek and mild, like you, but also that she became more ‘clever’ after marriage; indeed, she would have had to.
I was also put off by the Americanisms, and what I saw as unfeasibilities with regard to the protocol of the time; I often notice, when looking at reviews of English historical fiction, that it tends to have better reviews on Amazon US than UK – I think British histfic readers tend to leap on innaccuracies in a way that Americans maybe don’t. But it was a good book, and she’s a highly readable writer.
i had seen your comments on the Americanisms and decided to let you have your say and not repeat – you are so good at ferreting out such stuff! I am very sensitive to ‘out of century’ words or terms – am spending an inordinate amount of time using an etymology app in editing my historical novel. Fortunately, a lot of our word existed by the 17th century.
Thanks for your comments!