The Boleyn Wife

The Boleyn Wife

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by Brandy Purdy
     
 

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Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue—until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As

Overview

Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue—until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal. . .

Encompassing the reigns of four of Henry's wives, from the doomed Anne to the reckless Katherine Howard, The Boleyn Wife is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust, and jealousy, of the power of love to change the course of history, and of the terrible price of revenge.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lady Jane Parker is overjoyed when she marries dashing courtier George Boleyn, but her hopes for a loving union are destroyed when she realizes that her husband is forever tied emotionally to his charismatic sister Anne. While riding the wave of the Boleyns' popularity, embittered Jane is privy to every secret and scandal in Henry VIII's court. When Anne wins the English throne, Jane's hatred explodes, and she testifies to George's "unnatural" love for his sister. This rash act signs not only Anne's death warrant but also George's, with lasting repercussions for Jane. VERDICT Though newcomer Purdy's lush writing has promise, her fascination with the Boleyn saga overpowers the plot and provides nothing new. Jane tells the story mostly from behind shrubbery or curtains, which reduces her character to an inactive role and fosters no empathy. Recommended for readers who can't get enough of the Tudors and have devoured all of Philippa Gregory's books.—Jamie Kallio, Thomas Ford Memorial Lib., Western Springs, IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780758238443
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
02/01/2010
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Boleyn Wife


By BRANDY PURDY

KENSINGTON BOOKS

Copyright © 2010 Brandy Purdy
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-3844-3


Chapter One

Anne Boleyn was not beautiful, but, while women were quick to take gleeful note of this, men seldom noticed; the Spanish Ambassador who dubbed her "The Goggle-Eyed Whore" being a notable exception. Yet she cast a spell like no other, this raven-haired enchantress, that caused men to fall at her feet, sing her praises, and worship her; some even gave their lives for her.

Her bearing was innately regal, as if Mother Nature had intended all along that she should be a queen. Each gesture, each turn of her head and hands, each step, was as graceful and gliding as a dance. Her voice was velvet, her laughter music and tinkling bells, and her wit sparkled like silver and was as keen as the sharpest razor. Her eyes were prominent and dark brown, with a beguiling and vivacious sparkle. But her complexion varied in the eyes of the beholder; deemed creamy by some and sallow by others. Nine years spent at the French court had left her more French than English, and her voice would always retain a lyrical-and some said sensual-lilting accent. Instead of petite, blond, and partridge-plump like all the celebrated English beauties, including her sister Mary, Anne Boleyn was tall, dark, and slender as a reed, with a cloak of glossy black hair reaching all the way down to her knees, which for her life entire she would floutconvention by letting flow gypsy-free, instead of confining it inside a coif after she became a wife.

No, she was not beautiful, but at deception she excelled, cleverly concealing her flaws by the most ingenious means, and in doing so she set fashions. A choker of velvet, precious gems, or pearls hid an unsightly strawberry wen upon her throat. And she devised a new style of sleeve, worn full, long, and flowing, over wrist-length under-sleeves to conceal an even more unbecoming blemish-the start of a sixth finger, just the tip and nail, protruding from the side of the smallest finger on her left hand. Anne set the fashions other women rushed to follow, never knowing that they were devices of illusion, like the objects the court magician employed to perform his tricks and leave his audience gasping in astonishment and delight, wondering how the trick was done but nonetheless enchanted.

In 1522 when I, Lady Jane Parker, first met her, her fate was undecided. "What to do about Anne?" was the subject of many grave parental debates from her infancy onward. If only she were blond like her sister Mary, or red-haired like the King's sister, a true English rose-but no, Anne's tresses were black. If only her eyes were blue and placid, or serene and green, instead of almond-shaped and dark. If only her skin were porcelain pale with rosy pink cheeks, instead of sultry and sallow like a woman of France or Spain. If only, if only, if only! Would she ever make a good match? Would any man of standing take a dark, six-fingered bride with a tempestuous and rebellious temperament that even the stern Sir Thomas Boleyn had been unable to quash? Perhaps a convent would be the wisest choice? Filled as they were with plain, ugly, disfigured, and otherwise unmarriageable girls, surely there was a niche there that Anne could fill, and with her brains she might even rise to the rank of abbess and thus bring a small measure of glory to her family.

Then-when marriage and the future were so much on all our minds-came the fateful day when my path first crossed hers and our destinies became irrevocably entangled. Centuries from now, if anyone remembers me, it will be because of Anne Boleyn.

And for that I damn and curse her.

* * *

My father, Lord Morley, and Sir Thomas Boleyn were keen to forge a match between myself, an only child and sole heiress to my father's sizable fortune, and George, the only Boleyn son. It was a notion, I confess, that made me swoon with delight. My heart was already his, and had been ever since the day I arrived at court, a befuddled and nervous maid, lost amidst the noisy and confusing bustle of King Henry's court. Suddenly finding myself separated from my escort, I asked a passing gentleman to help me find my way. Gallantly, he offered me his arm and saw me safely to my chamber door, and there he bowed, with a most elegant flourish of his white-plumed cap, and left me.

No sooner had he turned his back than my hand shot out to waylay a passing page boy, clutching so tight to his sleeve I felt some of the stitches at the shoulder snap.

"Tell me that gentleman's name!" I implored.

"George Boleyn," came the answer.

And ever since, it has been engraved upon my heart. Every night when I knelt beside my bed in prayer I pleaded fervently, "Please! Make him mine!" I prayed to God, and I would gladly have prayed to the Devil too, if I thought Our Heavenly Father would fail to grant my deepest, most heartfelt wish. Sans regret, I would have sold my soul to have him! As I lay alone in darkness, waiting for slumber, I whispered his name times beyond number, soft and reverent, as if it were-and for me it was!-a sacrament or prayer.

When I went home to Great Hallingbury, our sturdy redbrick manor nestled in the sleepy Essex countryside, I began, like a general, to plot my campaign. Fortunately, I was a spoiled only child and, more often than not, my father was happy to indulge me.

Father was a keen classical scholar, more at ease with the ancient Greeks and Romans, their history, culture, and myths, than the backbiting, scandal, politics, and intrigue of King Henry's court. Whenever he could, he shut himself away in his library with his beloved scrolls and books, surrounded by statues and busts of gods, goddesses, and great warriors, while he worked zealously at his Greek and Latin translations, which he had afterwards elegantly bound and presented to the King, his friends, and other like-minded scholars. Whenever I could, I haunted his library, chattering endlessly, no doubt making a great nuisance of myself, endeavoring at every opportunity to insert George Boleyn's name into the conversation, and for months it was George Boleyn this and George Boleyn that, until Father took the hint and, no doubt hoping to restore serene and blessed silence to his library, made arrangements to meet with Sir Thomas Boleyn and discuss the possibility of a betrothal.

Thus, with further negotiations in mind, my father was pleased to accept Sir Thomas Boleyn's invitation to visit the family castle of Hever, a modest, mellow-stone block nestled in the heart of the Kentish countryside, surrounded by a moat and lush greenery.

Pale and patrician in sapphire blue velvet, Lady Boleyn, the former Elizabeth Howard, welcomed us warmly.

"Let all the formality be in the marriage contracts!" she declared, embracing me as if I were her daughter-in-law already.

After I had quenched my thirst and changed my gown, she directed me to the garden where I might enjoy the company of her children-George, Mary, and the newly returned Anne.

Surely my heart must have shown upon my face when he turned a welcoming smile in my direction. It was like a whip crack, a sharp, ecstatic pang, a slap, lashing hard against my heart. Love was the master and I was the slave!

At twenty, George Boleyn was breathtakingly handsome, endowed with a lively wit and a reputation for being something of a rake. He was slender and tall, dark as a Spaniard or a Frenchman, with sleek black hair and a short, neatly trimmed beard and mustache, eyes the warmest shade of brown I had ever seen-they reminded me of a sable robe I wanted to wrap myself up in on a cold winter's day-teeth like polished ivory, lips full, pink, and sensual, and skin the warm golden hue of honey. A poet and musician, his pen and lute were always at his side, and when he strummed his lute I felt as if my heart were its strings. How could I not love him?

But I was never fool enough to think that he loved me. I hoped, I yearned, I burned with lust and jealousy, but I never cherished that illusion. Was there ever a Jane plainer than I? Me with my nose like a beak, my face and figure all sharp angles with no plump, pillow-soft bosom or curves, and my hair a lank and lifeless mousy brown, I could never stir a man's loins and make his blood race. But reality didn't stop me from wanting, hoping, and dreaming. And in our world, where titles, lands, and fortunes-not love-are the stuff of which marriages are made, the odds of winning him were not entirely stacked against me.

As I followed the garden path, the summer breeze carried the tart tang of lemon to my nose and I turned to seek its source.

Indolent and lush as a rose in full bloom, Mary Boleyn lounged in a chair situated to take best advantage of the sun. Gowned in gold-embroidered peacock blue and fiery orange satin, far too rich for such a rustic setting, Mary lolled back against her cushions like a well-contented cat. Upon her head she wore a straw hat with the crown cut out and a very wide brim upon which her long golden tresses, soaked thoroughly with lemon juice, were spread to be bleached blonder still by the sun's bright rays. And beneath her orange kirtle her stomach swelled with the promise of King Henry's child.

The most amiable of wantons was Mary. She lost her virtue early, to no less a personage than the King of France. She comported herself with such lascivious abandon that she was banished from that most licentious and hedonistic of courts for "conduct unbecoming to a maid," and sent home to England, where she at once caught King Henry VIII's eye and went merrily and obligingly into his bed. Perhaps she was too obliging, for he soon tired of her, but not before his seed took root inside her womb. Thus, for the second time in her life, Mary Boleyn, then aged but one-and-twenty, found herself banished from court, and to Hever Castle she was exiled to await her hastily procured bridegroom, Sir William Carey, a cheerful knight of modest means who was glad to undertake this service for his King.

Like many, I stood in awe of her dazzling beauty-she had been plucked so many times it was hard to believe her bloom had not wilted or faded-and her equally astounding stupidity. Mary must have been unique amongst courtesans; she had been mistress to not one but two kings and had failed to profit from either. Indeed, Sir Thomas Boleyn had railed at her and boxed her ears and pummeled her until it was feared he would dislodge the King's bastard from her womb. Now he never spoke an unnecessary word to her. He regarded her as a failure and declared it would be the most outrageous flattery to call her even a half-wit. Mary had been handed power on a plate and had refused to partake, and this Sir Thomas Boleyn could never forgive.

"Jane ..."

George began to speak and my breath caught in my throat. My eyes were so dazzled by the sight of him I almost raised my hand to shield them, but to be deprived of the radiant sight of him would have been unbearable. A god in yellow satin, he was indeed the sun that lit up my life.

"... I bid you welcome to Hever. Of course you already know my sister Mary"-he nodded towards the dozing wanton-"but you have yet to meet Anne."

My ears pricked at the tenderness and warmth with which his voice imbued her name. It was a tone, I would all too soon discover, that he reserved exclusively for her. It was then-the moment I first heard him speak her name-that I began to hate her.

She was seated upon a stone bench and, even as he spoke to me, George stepped behind her and gently took the ivory comb from her hand and began to draw it through the inky blackness of her damp, newly washed tresses.

Like her sister, she was too grandly gowned for Hever. She wore black damask with a tracery of silver, festooned with silver lace. A ribbon of black velvet encircled her long, swan-slender neck and from it dangled her initials, AB, conjoined in silver with three large pendent pearls suspended from them. She was, like me, aged nineteen. She had only just returned from the French court, well-esteemed and, unlike her sister, with her virtue and respectability firmly intact. Indeed, all sang the praises of Mistress Anne and lamented her departure back to her native shore.

"It is a pleasure to meet my brother's bride-to-be." She smiled warmly and addressed me in that beguiling French-tinged English that made her speech so unique. "You are one of Queen Catherine's ladies, I am told. I have just been appointed to her household, so we shall serve together and have the opportunity, I hope, to become friends; I do so want us to be."

I felt the most peculiar dread, like a knot pulled tight within my stomach, and I could not speak, could only nod and stare back at her like a simpleton.

She then began to inquire of my likes and dislikes, my pleasures and pastimes.

"Are you fond of music? Do you play an instrument? George and I"-she smiled up at him-"live for music. We have melodies in our blood, I think, and our minds are forever awhirl with songs!"

"I enjoy music, of course, but as a performer I am, alas, inept," I confessed. And at her brief, sympathetic nod I felt the distinct urge to strike her. How dare she, with her fancy clothes and Frenchified ways, make me feel so far beneath her!

"Well, it is no great matter," she trilled. "Do you like to dance or sing?"

I blushed hotly at the memory of the French dancing master who had nobly retired rather than continue to accept my father's money, admitting in all honesty that I was as graceful as a cow. The Italian singing master had also withdrawn his services; he could teach me nothing; I had a voice like a crow.

"I ... I am afraid I lack your accomplishments, Lady Anne," I stammered haughtily, jerking my chin up high, as my face grew hot and red.

In truth, I had no talent to speak of.

"Oh, but I am sure you have many talents!" Anne cried, as if she had just read my mind.

"The embroidery upon your kirtle is exquisite!" She indicated my tawny underskirt, richly embroidered with golden lovers' knots to match those that edged the bodice and sleeves of my brown velvet gown. "Is it your own work? Do you like to design your own gowns?" As she spoke, her right hand smoothed her skirt and I knew this too numbered among her talents.

As for my own gown, other than selecting the materials I had done nothing but stand still for the dressmaker. I had left the style and cut entirely to her discretion; my father was rich and she was grateful for my patronage, so I could trust her not to make me look a fool or frumpish. My own skill with the needle was adequate, but nothing to boast of.

"Do you enjoy reading or composing poetry?" Anne persisted. "Are you fond of riding? Do you like to play dice or cards? Queen Catherine, despite her pious nature, I am told, is a keen card player."

"Her Majesty only plays for the most modest stakes and her winnings are always given to the poor!" I answered sharply while inwardly I seethed. How dare she play this game with me? Flaunting her accomplishments in my face and making it quite plain that as a candidate for her brother's hand she deemed me most unworthy!

And through it all George just stood there, smiling down at her, drawing the comb through her hair, even as he glanced inquisitively at me each time she posed a question, waiting expectantly for my answers and feigning an interest I knew he did not feel. As I stood before them I felt like a prisoner on trial, and most fervently wished that the ground would open beneath my feet and swallow me.

Thus began my association with the Boleyn family, though three years would pass before I officially joined their ranks; Sir Thomas and my father haggled like fishwives over my dowry. Meanwhile, I returned to court, where I was soon joined by Anne, in the household of Queen Catherine.

I remember the day she arrived at Greenwich Palace. The Queen had been closeted all day in her private chapel, fasting and kneeling before a statue of the Virgin surrounded by flickering candles, while we, her ladies, lolled about, lazily plying our needles over the shirts and shifts she bade us stitch for distribution among the poor. We gazed wistfully out at the river, sighing longingly at the thought of the cool breeze, and eyeing enviously those who already strolled along its banks. From time to time one of us would pluck desultorily at a lute, toy with the ivory keys of the virginals, or yawningly take up one of the edifying volumes about the saints' lives that Her Majesty encouraged us to take turns reading aloud.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Boleyn Wife by BRANDY PURDY Copyright © 2010 by Brandy Purdy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Boleyn Wife 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not impressed. I am a huge Tudor the series fan and most of the dialog in this book is word for word from the Showtime series. What a joke...will not suffer through anymore of Brandy Purdy's novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of disturbing aspects to this. Janes point of view was interesting, but she was a tad bit obsessed with watching other people having sex. Everytime someone was having sex, she would watch. EVERY TIME. It got annoying really quickly.
defygravity22 More than 1 year ago
I am not quite sure about this book. I liked it but i hated it at the same time. I am a die hard fan of Anne Boleyn and since Jane is one of the reasons why Anne was killed i have always hated her. Then i saw this book and though by reading it my opinion about her would change, but it didnt. In fact in the end i hated Jane even more. The writing of the book was a little weird and towards the end of the book I just wanted it to be over already. I actually skipped most of the Katherine Howard chapters becuase i couldnt stand the whinning and complaing from Jane. I did however enjoy her beheading and the death of Cromwell. It was a good book and i recommend borrowing it but only if you like Jane Rochford otherwise you I doubt you will have the same problems with the book that i did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just plain awful.
Birman More than 1 year ago
I've read many, many books about the Tudor era, both fictional and factual, and this one disappoints. The main character, Jane Boleyn, is a cardboard characterization of an evil woman, determined to take revenge on her husband and sister-in-law. This book is a waste of time and money. Don't bother with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a book that could explain the motives in which Lady Rochford "sent Anne and George Boleyn to the block" it really isn't here. This book is 95% fiction with only the dates and what happened on those dates (our history books can do that for us) to be anywhere to the truth. The author does nothing more than to make Jane Boleyn into a catty and jealous psycho worthy of an appearance on the Jerry Springer show. Any person that is drawn into wanting to read this book would be better off reading ALL of the customer reviews before purchasing this. I know I wish I had....that money could have been better spent elsewhere.
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This has every myth and lie in it about 3 of the queens. Told from a different although awful perspective. Save your time and your money.
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