Summary and book reviews of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

The Boleyn Inheritance

by Philippa Gregory

The Boleyn Inheritance
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2006, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2007, 544 pages

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Book Summary

Gregory vividly brings Henry VIII's court, with its intense intrigues, politics, and passions, to life though the lives, and deaths, of his fourth, fifth and sixth wives.

THREE WOMEN WHO SHARE ONE FATE: THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE

ANNE OF CLEVES
She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses.

KATHERINE HOWARD
She catches the king's eye within moments of arriving at court, setting in motion the dreadful machine of politics, intrigue, and treason that she does not understand. She only knows that she is beautiful, that men desire her, that she is young and in love -- but not with the diseased old man who made her queen, beds her night after night, and killed her cousin Anne. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe.

JANE ROCHFORD
She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. She is the trusted friend of two threatened queens, the perfectly loyal spy for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and a canny survivor in the murderous court of a most dangerous king. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.


The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory has brought a vanished world to life -- the whisper of a silk skirt on a stone stair, the yellow glow of candlelight illuminating a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower Green below the newly built scaffold. In The Boleyn Inheritance Gregory is at her intelligent and page-turning best.

Jane Boleyn, Blickling Hall, Norfolk,
July 1539

It is hot today, the wind blows over the flat fields and marshes with the stink of the plague. In weather like this, if my husband were still with me, we would not be trapped in one place, watching a leaden dawn and a sunset of dull red; we would be traveling with the king's court, on progress through the weald and downland of Hampshire and Sussex, the richest and most beautiful countryside in all of England, riding high on the hilly roads and looking out for the first sight of the sea. We would be out hunting every morning, dining under the thick canopy of the trees at midday and dancing in the great hall of some country house at night in the yellow light of flickering torches. We were friends with the greatest families in the land, we were the favorites of the king, kin to the queen. We were beloved; we were the Boleyns, the most beautiful, sophisticated family at the court. Nobody knew George without desiring him, nobody could ...

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Background on The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

You don't have to be a feminist to object to one modern historian's description of Katherine Howard as a 'stupid slut', but if you are, it makes it more annoying. I am both a feminist and an historian, and I object very much.

Indeed both she and her immediate predecessor, Anne of Cleves, suffer the worst from pejorative verdicts of history. Many historians have accepted without question King Henry's view of his wives: the one as sexually repellent and the other as wanton. It was obvious to me, when I started the research for this novel that there would be more to these young women than the verdict of the man who turned against them. No-one of any sense would ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Gregory describes The Boleyn Inheritance as her current favorite book out of all that she's written. Many of her loyal readers will likely agree. If you enjoy well researched historical fiction and have yet to discover Philippa Gregory a good place to start would be with The Boleyn Inheritance or any other of her Tudor series (such as The Constant Princess also featured at BookBrowse); all, except The Boleyn Inheritance, are available in paperback.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Kirkus Reviews

Gregory's knowledge of the period, combined with her novelistic skill, allows her to view this grim tale through the eyes of the three women: wily, experienced Jane; naive, sensible Anne; and vain, greedy young Kitty. Their first-person accounts are convincing and shockingly self-serving. Royal history spoon-fed in a highly digestible form.

Booklist - Margaret Flanagan

Narrated in turn by this trio of intriguing women, this tale of court politics and treachery unfolds from three equally compelling points of view.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Rich in intrigue and irony, this is a tale where readers will already know who was divorced, beheaded or survived, but will savor Gregory's sharp staging of how and why.

Reader Reviews

Cariola

Gregory's Best
This is by far Philippa Gregory's best historical novel. I love the way she interweaves the voices of three characters--none of which have been given much voice in previous novels by other authors. I've always wondered what motivated Lady Rocheford...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya in 1954, and educated in England gaining a BA degree in history from the University of Sussex and a PhD in 18th century literature from Edinburgh University. For a time she worked as a journalist but took to full time writing after the success of her first novel Wideacre, which was written as she completed her PhD. It was the first of a trilogy (1987-1990) including The Favored Child and Meridon. This trilogy was followed by Earthly Joys (1998) and Virgin Earth (1990) set in the English civil war. After this she wrote a number of stand-alone novels dipping into a variety of genres leaning to romance before truly hitting her stride in 2001 with the publication of The Other Boleyn Girl, ...

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