3 May 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
What's it all about.
Jane Seymour is the third of Henry VIII's Queens. History tells us how she died. This spellbinding novel explores the life she lived.
My thoughts about it...
I've long been fascinated by the six women who are fated to be forever known as the Six Wives of Henry the Eight, and in this third volume of the lives of the Six Tudor Queens, Jane Seymour comes quietly to life.
We start Jane’s story when she is a teenager growing up at the family home at Wulf Hall in Wiltshire. We get to know her parents, and her siblings, and when the story opens in 1518 we are a welcome guest at the marriage of Jane’s older brother Edward to his pretty bride, Catherine Fillol.
Never wanting to be the centre of attention, Jane quietly considers dedicating her life to the service of God until a short stay at the convent of Amesbury convinces her that life as a nun is not what she wants from life. When an invitation comes to attend Queen Katherine, Jane is packed off, with her meagre belongings, to take up a very different life at the most glittering of Royal courts.
Alison Weir does this type of biographical fiction very well and even though this third novel overlaps with the first two books, it’s interesting to get Jane’s observations about the King’s deteriorating marriage to Katherine and of his obsession with Anne Boleyn. Once again the Henrician court comes alive with all of its scheming gossip and sly innuendo and yet, throughout it all, Jane remains in the background, always ready with a kind-hearted gesture. However, behind the quiet exterior, Jane has a hidden stubbornness, which is refreshing to discover. And although we know the tragedy of her short life, what's interesting, in this novel, is to see Jane as an observer, candidly sharing her thoughts about the goings-on at court.
The novel ends on a sad note, as we know it must, however, Jane’s short and tragic marriage was lived out in the full glare of Tudor politics, and whilst never as charismatic as the Queen she succeeded, nevertheless Jane’s place in history is well assured and her tragic life is beautifully recreated in this fascinating historical novel.