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The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance

4.3 481
by Philippa Gregory

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From “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) comes this New York Times bestseller featuring three very different women whose fates are each bound by a bloody curse: the legacy of the Boleyn family.

After the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII of England decides to take a new wife, but this time, not for love.


From “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) comes this New York Times bestseller featuring three very different women whose fates are each bound by a bloody curse: the legacy of the Boleyn family.

After the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII of England decides to take a new wife, but this time, not for love. The Boleyn Inheritance follows three women whose lives are forever changed because of the king’s decision, as they must balance precariously in an already shaky Tudor Court.

Anne of Cleves is to be married to Henry to form a political alliance, though the rocky relationship she has to the king does not bode well for her or for England.

Katherine Howard is the young, beautiful woman who captures Henry’s eye, even though he is set to marry Anne. Her spirit runs free and her passions run hot—though her affections may not be returned upon the King.

Jane Rochford was married to George Boleyn, and it was her testimony that sent her husband and infamous sister-in-law Anne to their deaths. Throughout the country, her name is known for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust.

The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about three women whose positions brought them wealth, admirations, and power, as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Returning to the scene of The Other Boleyn Girl, historical powerhouse Gregory again brings the women of Henry VIII's court vividly to life. Among the cast, who alternately narrate: Henry's fourth wife, Bavarian-born Anne of Cleves; his fifth wife, English teenager Katherine Howard; and Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn), the jealous spouse whose testimony helped send her husband, Thomas, and sister-in-law Anne Boleyn to their execution. Attended by Lady Rochford, 24-year-old Anne of Cleves endures a disastrous first encounter with the twice-her-age king-an occasion where Henry takes notice of Katherine Howard. Gregory beautifully explains Anne of Cleves's decision to stay in England after her divorce, and offers contemporary descriptions of Lady Rochford's madness. While Gregory renders Lady Rochford with great emotion, and Anne of Cleves with sympathy, her most captivating portrayal is Katherine, the clever yet naive 16th-century adolescent counting her gowns and trinkets. Male characters are not nearly as endearing. Gregory's accounts of events are accurate enough to be persuasive, her characterizations modern enough to be convincing. 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. (Dec. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of The Other Boleyn Girl (2002) returns to the executed queen's doomed family in a historical novel that maps the sad demise of Henry VIII in a series of intimate personal testimonies. Gregory's tale of greed and revenge takes place against the short, unhappy tenures of Henry's fourth and fifth wives. Jockeying for position close to the throne, three powerful, ambitious women collide. The author skillfully allows each character to tell her side of the story in her own words. The first voice we hear belongs to 30-year-old Jane Boleyn, widowed sister-in-law to Anne. Jane's husband George was implicated in his sister's alleged infidelities and went with her to the scaffold in 1533; his calculating wife moved to save her inheritance rather than her husband and six years later is still scheming. Next up is Anne of Cleves, soon to be Queen Number Four, a provincial, German-speaking Protestant princess chosen by Henry's advisor, Thomas Cromwell, as a politically suitable alliance to keep Spain and France at bay. Badgered and bullied all her life by her brother and mother, 24-year-old Anne wants nothing more than to escape Cleves and have a meaningful life. The third voice belongs to Katherine Howard, a pretty, 15-year-old cousin of the dead Anne Boleyn and an incorrigible flirt who is brought to court as a lady-in-waiting by her conniving, powerful uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. Also summoned to court to attend the new queen, Jane begins plotting behind the scenes with Norfolk to assure Anne of Cleve's hasty fall and Katherine's quick ascent in Henry's favor. Gregory's knowledge of the period, combined with her novelistic skill, allows her to view this grim tale through the eyes of thethree women: wily, experienced Jane; na‹ve, 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.
From the Publisher
"Fascinating...harrowing....If only...history books were written so vividly."

Entertainment Weekly

"The queen of royal fiction."

USA Today

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Philippa Gregory Tudor Series , #3
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Read an Excerpt

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 resist Anne, everyone courted me as a passport to their attention. George was dazzling -- dark-haired, dark-eyed, and handsome -- always mounted on the finest horses, always at the side of the queen. Anne was at the peak of her beauty and her wits, as alluring as dark honey. And I went everywhere with them.

The two of them used to ride together, racing, neck and neck like lovers, and I could hear their laughter over the thudding of the hooves as they went flying by. Sometimes, when I saw them together, so rich, so young, so beautiful, I couldn't tell which of them I loved more.

All the court was besotted with the two of them, those dark Boleyn flirtatious looks, their high living: such gamblers, such lovers of risk; both so fervent for their reform of the church, so quick and clever in argument, so daring in their reading and thoughts. From the king to the kitchen maid there was not one person who was not dazzled by the pair of them. Even now, three years on, I cannot believe that we will never see them again. Surely, a couple so young, so radiant with life, cannot simply die? In my mind, in my heart, they are still riding out together, still young, still beautiful. And why would I not passionately long for this to be true? It has been only three years since I last saw them; three years, two months, and nine days since his careless fingers brushed against mine, and he smiled and said, "Good day, wife, I must go, I have everything to do today," and it was a May Day morning and we were preparing for the tournament. I knew he and his sister were in trouble, but I did not know how much.

Every day in this new life of mine I walk to the crossroads in the village, where there is a dirty milestone to the London road. Picked out in mud and lichen, the carving says "London, 120 miles." It is such a long way, such a long way away. Every day I bend down and touch it, like a talisman, and then I turn back again to my father's house, which is now so small to me, who has lived in the king's greatest palaces. I live on my brother's charity, on the goodwill of his wife who cares nothing for me, on a pension from Thomas Cromwell, the upstart moneylender, who is the king's new great friend. I am a poor neighbor living in the shadow of the great house that was once my own, a Boleyn house, one of our many houses. I live quietly, cheaply, like a widow with no house of my own whom no man wants.

And this is because I am a widow with no house of my own whom no man wants. A woman of nearly thirty years old, with a face scored by disappointment, mother to an absent son, a widow without prospect of remarriage, the sole survivor of an unlucky family, heiress to scandal.

My dream is that one day this luck will change. I will see a messenger in Howard livery riding down this very road, bringing a letter for me, a letter from the Duke of Norfolk, to summon me back to court, to tell me that there is work for me to do again: a queen to serve, secrets to whisper, plots to hatch, the unending double-dealing life of a courtier, at which he is so expert, and I am his greatest pupil. My dream is that the world will change again, swing topsy-turvy until we are uppermost once more, and I am restored. I saved the duke once, when we were in the worst danger, and in return he saved me. Our great sorrow was that we could not save the two of them, the two who now ride and laugh and dance only in my dreams. I touch the milestone once more, and imagine that tomorrow the messenger will come. He will hold out a paper, sealed with the Howard crest deep and shiny in the red wax. "A message for Jane Boleyn, the Viscountess Rochford?" he will ask, looking at my plain kirtle and the dust on the hem of my gown, my hand stained with dirt from the London milestone.

"I will take it," I shall say. "I am her. I have been waiting forever." And I shall take it in my dirty hand: my inheritance.

Copyright © 2006 by Philippa Gregory Limited

Meet the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her work has been adapted for the screen in The Other Boleyn Girl movie and the critically acclaimed STARZ miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. Her most recent novel is The Last Tudor. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds two honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

Brief Biography

Yorkshire, England
Date of Birth:
January 9, 1954
Place of Birth:
Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984

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The Boleyn Inheritance 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 480 reviews.
just-a-thot More than 1 year ago
The 2 least known wives of the fat, old, slovenly, smelly, constipated, and unable to perform Henry VIII. What a ghastly picture of him. This book was fabulous. Doubt if you see this on "Tudors", but indeed this is a part of English History you may not have heard of, at least I didn't. Ms. Gregory is exceptional in taking you to the many castle of the King, and especially the "Tower". This is a must for anyone interested in Tudor history. The author has set up the book so that each chapter is narrated by a different woman, and tied in to each other brilliantly. Hold onto your head!
HasadaAmin More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. The Boleyn Inheritance follows three very different women, two wives of Henry VIII and the widow of George Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's brother who was executed for incest and treason-on the evidence given by his own wife. Anne of Cleves is the plain but honest, brave, and kind hearted wife brought in to marry Henry on recommendation of Secretary Cromwell. She is a Lutheran and Cromwell hopes to encourage Henry further towards Protestantism. But after their disasterous meeting at Rochester, where the old and vain king foolishly presented himself in the unflattering guise of an ordinary man and was repulsed by Anne, the marriage was doomed. Henry, pride wounded, determines to hate Anne no matter what she does to please him. He then falls in lust with Anne's maid Katherine Howard, who was brought to court by none other than the nefarious schemer the Duke of Norfolk, Anne Boleyn's wicked uncle. Katherine-Anne Boleyn's cousin-is silly, beautiful, and with a vanity that rivals Henry's own but none of his shrewd intellegence. She is a pawn used by Norfolk, who seizes on the King's hatred of Anne of Cleves and pushes Katherine forward in hopes to play the Queenmaker once more. But a girl of fourteen will fall in love, and as Gregory tells us, "Never with a husband of forty-nine." With the King losing his vigor, the Duke of Norfolk next pushes the naive Katherine into the arms of a groom of the chamber, setting her on a dangerous path. Norfolk's other pawn in this is Jane Rochford, George Boleyn's widow and possible Gregory's most brilliantly created character. Historically, Jane Rochford is perhaps one of Europe's most despised women. Her name is "a byword for jealous and twisted lust", and Gregory depicts Jane's mental decline with skill, intriguing and horrifying the reader at once. Those who do not know Lady Rochford will meet her and think she is no more than a grieving young widow trying to make her way back into the world. But slowly, Jane's protestations of love for her husband and sister-in-law give way to excuses, and finally when pressed, the truth of what Jane did to George and Anne Boleyn-and why-comes to light. The Duke of Norfolk skillfully manipulates a deteriorating Jane into doing his dirty work with Katherine Howard, and so when yet another of Henry's Queens falls into peril, his hands are clean. Many will think that Jane gets just what she deserves! Philippa Gregory handles the difficult task of writing a credible and gripping novel using three seperate narrators: Jane, Anne, and Katherine. Three distinct personalities are shown, and Gregory develops each masterfully. Gregory's portrayal of Henry VIII is less than flattering, and in some cases downright disgusting. All in all, The Boleyn Inheritance is bold, brilliant, like a gossipy friend who you cannot get enough of. I highly recommend this book.
Alle_Berry More than 1 year ago
The Boleyn Inheritance is the second I've read of Gregory's works, after The Other Boleyn Girl. For years, I have hesitated to read any of the 'historical fiction' novels written by Gregory and other authors like her (Anne Easter Smith, Vanora Bennett, Alison Weir, etc), but I sure am kicking myself now for waiting so long to give them a chance! Gregory's writing style is effortless and addicting, and she does a fantastic job creating unique and interesting characters. This book, like most of her others, is written from the point of view of three different characters. Gregory does a great job varying her writing so that you can easily tell which character's point of view you are experiencing, even without reading the chapter title that tells which character is narrating. I appreciate that the chapters are relatively short, because it makes it so much easier to fit reading into my busy lifestyle. Overall, I very much enjoyed The Boleyn Inheritance, and I am looking forward to reading many more by this author!
Jessi88 More than 1 year ago
This book was told from the point of view of three different characters. Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn, and Katherine Howard. Two of these women become wives to King Henry VIII. I really enjoyed reading from the different perspectives in this book because it allows you to better understand the bigger picture of what was going on, the scandal, and the intimacy of the plot as well. One character alone could not have brought so much depth to this story. I thought Philippa Gregory did a wonderful job yet again!
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
This gripping novel is told from the perspective of three historical figures, Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Howard. Gregory interweaves their stories as short pieces almost as though they had written diaries, portraying the roles and expectations of, as well as the injustices to, women. Each of these women were caught up in the court and the peculiarities of King Henry and their lives flow ever faster towards their conclusion.
CatholicKittie More than 1 year ago
After reading that on the back how could I not be intrigued. The story is from three points of view: Anne of Cleves, Jane Boleyn Rochford and The young Kitty Howard. It's set after the executions of Anne and George Boleyn. Now I find historical fiction fascinating and this was no different. We all know the story of Henry the 8ths tyranny but Gregory writes it with a refreshing flare. Anne of Cleve's marriage to Henry was a disaster from their tragic first meeting. She humiliated him so from there he makes her life a living hell. And we all know that whom Henry doesn't like have a way of losing their heads. EEKS! Poor girl not only does she have to deal with the rumors of her unappealing smell, ugly homeliness, her husband's oozy wound and her husband's wandering eye and peen...Ahem! Little Miss not so virginal Kitty Howard. She has to worry about the "off with her head!" factor. Okay wrong historical figure but you get the idea. This book was pure courtly Gold! It spans from July 1539 through January 1547. The reign of Anne and Kitty. As well as the much deserved fall of Jane wanna-be Boleyn Rochford. catholickittie.blogspot.com
saescape More than 1 year ago
I was just excited to read each page and to learn what was going to happen next. Learned things I never knew or imagined about that time in our history.
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Sat under a tree, her eyes closed.
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NahvilleReader More than 1 year ago
I am a Phillippa Gregory fan, but... this is no one of her better books. While I did enjoy reading about an event from the point of view of the different women, much of the wording was very repetitious. So much so that I thought I'd lost my place on some occasions and was rereading something I'd already read. But, I was not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Highly recommend. Easy reading. Page turner. Tells history through the eyes of true life people. History come alive.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love reading this authors books she can bring history alive and make it so interesting. It is a shame she wasn't an advisor for the series The Tudors because it was so off base in so many ways. Henry Tudor was a horrible man even in his youth. Bravo! I look forward to reading more by Philippa Gregory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the way Philippa Gregory writes about the Royal Court and all of their antics and what they go through in their daily lives. It is reading about history.
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HRHScarlet More than 1 year ago
I love historical novels and started with the audio book of this first and then added it to my Nook library. The writing is amazing and entertaining. Three stories from Lady Jane Rochford, Lady Katherine Howard and Queen Anne of Cleves. Each page pulls you further and further into the world of Henry VIII just after the death of Queen Jane and the arrival of Anne of Cleves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read