The Boleyn Wife [NOOK Book]


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 ...
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The Boleyn Wife

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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 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.
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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758257017
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 158,337
  • File size: 555 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Boleyn Wife



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.


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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 41 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    The Bolelyn wife

    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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012


    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Just plain awful.

    Just plain awful.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Huge Disappointment

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I still hate Jane

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Jerry Springer for the Tudor era

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    Another interesting facet to the time period of Henry VIII

    I have read many of Philippa Gregory's novels that occur during this same time period. At first I thought that this book was one of them, since the cover looked quite similar to the covers of Ms. Gregory's works, but it was not. It was very interesting to contrast the depictions of George Boleyn's wife. They weren't too far different, just told from differing points of view. I really felt sorry for that poor woman who made a bad choice of husband and never really realized it. Reading this book (as the other ones by Ms. Gregory) makes me want to delve more into the actual history of that time period.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013


    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2012

    Excellent Book - Highly Recommended

    This book gives you an insight into George Boleyn's wife, Jane, and explains why she grew to dislike, even hate, Anne so very much. She loved her husband so very much and he only had love for his sister. You feel sorry for Jane and can understand why she acted as she did toward her husband and sister-in-law. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and saw Jane in a different light than the way she is portrayed in other book during this period of English history.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Boleyn Wife is an interesting work of historical fiction

    In the Court of King Henry VIII, plain Jane Parker may be shy but she is not stupid as she knows she cannot compete with the beauty and glamour of the women who toss themselves at the monarch; yet for some unknown reason men seemed to desire her. She was uninterested in any of them beyond furthering her position at court until she meets charming George Boleyn. When Jane and George are directed to wed, he obeys without much passion while she is ecstatic.--------------

    However, she quickly realizes that his devotion is entirely to his sister emotive Anne. Not one to cry over what could have been, Jane waits for Anne who has become queen to self destruct. When the moment arrives, she betrays her cold husband and her sister-in-law accusing them of incestuous adultery, which both denied even as they were executed. She outlasts the next wife Anna of Cleves and gives her support to Anne's cousin Katherine Howard as Henry's next wife. Jane arranges the trysts between Katherine and her lover Thomas Culpepper. However, when Henry learns he is cuckolded, he has his wife, her lover, and their go between executed.----------------

    The Boleyn Wife is an interesting work of historical fiction that provides a fresh look at the novelization of the court of King Henry VIII. Loathed by most historians as a false accuser and betrayer, Brandy Purdy brings a wider perspective of a jealous young wife who wanted the love of an uncaring husband, but learned she could not compete with her sister-in-law so she chose vengeance instead. Readers will relish this fine portrait of a "scorned" spouse whose reprisal against the Boleyn brood proved pivotal in the reign of Henry VIII.-----------

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating Topic and A Great Read!

    I have always been fascinated by the purported strong relationship that Anne Boleyn had with her brother George. Jane Parker, Lady Rochford, wife to George Boleyn, Lord Rochford has always been mentioned in the history books as an afterthought. Indeed, I don't think that there is a lot of factual information to be had about Jane Parker - women themselves, unless famous, were more or less afterthoughts in Tudor times!

    I am an avid reader of both history and historical fiction - and am always enthralled by anything Tudor. This book was no exception! The book draws on history to tell the tale of Jane Parker who, through an arranged marriage, became wife to George Boleyn. Jane paled in comparison to the fiery spirit of Anne Boleyn - George's sister and wife to England's notorious King Henry VIII. As Anne's star rises in the Court, Jane's resentment grows and she begins to plot her revenge. Ultimately, it is Jane's spurious charges, of adultery and incest with her brother George that brings about Anne's downfall. Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector is the person that Jane turns to. She unfurls her plot - making allegations to Cromwell that will ultimately cause the downfall of both Anne and George as well as the other courtiers who were alleged by Janeto have been Anne's lovers. Jane erroneously thought that by arranging to have Anne out of the picture she would, at last, have George's attentions all to herself. Wrong! George, always proclaiming his innocence and remaining true to his sister, goes to the block just short of Anne's own appointment with the swordsman.

    Free of Anne - and her husband, Jane is sent from Court but she is soon brought back to Court to attend to Henry's newest bride, Anna of Cleves. Anna of Cleves is the only one of King Henry's wives prior to his last wife, Katherine Parr, to keep her head because Henry's dislike of her results in Anna's becoming the King's 'beloved sister". Their marriage is annulled - freeing Henry to marry once again. Henry's next marriage, to the very young Katherine Howard, finds Jane ready to serve once again and Jane becomes the go-between, arranging clandestine meetings between Katherine and her love, Thomas Culpepper. Ultimately,when the affair is exposed to King Henry, Jane Parker Boleyn herself along with Queen Katherine, becomes a victim of the swordsman's axe.

    This book is, we must remember, historical fiction. When I read a historical fiction book I like to reference the true history to see where the author remains true to the facts and where the true facts diverge and become true fiction. I don't expect a work of historical fiction to read like a history book. It is true that there are places in this book where scenes are invented and/or extrapolated. I anticipate this in a work of fiction. Indeed it is works of fiction that originally spurred my fascination with the Tudor period as a youngster and fanned my desire to read the true historical books about the period later on. I remain Tudor smitten.

    I find it unfortunate that the new publisher chose a cover that sports an image that is somewhat tawdry and most definitely not in period garb. It reminds me too much of bodice ripper's like some of the Harlequin series. I much prefer the original, self-published cover - or the British edition's cover. It is an unfortunate fact of a literary life that, once a publisher accepts a book for publication, author's have little input into cover selection. I can't think wha

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy

    The Boleyn Wife takes place over five reigns of Henry VIII's wives. The story is told in Lady Jane Boleyn's, nee Rochford, voice starting with her last days in the tower. She awaits her fate after being charged with treason along with Katherine Howard who was sentenced to death for adultery. She speaks of her young years, of her father, Lord Morley, and Sir Thomas Boleyn and how they want a match between their children Jane Rochford and George Boleyn. Jane was sole heiress to her fathers fortune and George was the only Boleyn son. Jane was already in love with George when first she came to Henry's court.
    The same could not be said of her feelings toward George's sister Anne. Jane despised Anne almost from the beginning, beside Anne she felt homely, clumsy and shy. As time goes on, Jane's animosity and immense dislike of Anne grows into hate as her husband George cares not at all about Jane and spends all his time with Anne and her admirers, Sir Francis Weston, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Thomas Wyatt ,Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton.During this time King Henry VIII is pursuing Anne and trying to get his marriage annulled from Catherine of Aragon . Henry desperately wants a legitimate male heir to follow him on the throne. Catherine suffers many miscarriages and is not able to have a male living child. They do have a daughter though, Mary. Henry eventually gets his way, his divorce and his Anne. Henry and Anne's marriage is very tumultuous and Anne is not able to have a male heir either. They do have a daughter together, Elizabeth, but Henry is adamant that he needs a son. During this time Jane's hatred keeps growing as she is constantly pushed aside by her husband for Anne. She starts to spy on Anne and sees George and Anne and all their friends having fun, dancing and singing and being happy while she becomes more despondent and unhappy. George literally wants nothing to do with Jane so there are no children. Jane believes that her husband and Anne are having an incestuous relationship.
    Jane at this time is befriended by Thomas Cromwell, who also despises Anne and has his own political agenda and uses Jane to discredit Anne and her followers. As a result George and his friends are charged with treason against the King and George is also charged with incest with Anne and is sentenced to death. Anne is eventually charged with treason and incest with her brother and also sentenced to death.
    We all know what happens after that. Henry is free to marry again and he chooses Jane Seymour, a very lovely woman who is also a pawn of her family. The are married for a short time. Jane dies after giving birth to a sickly son, Edward. After she dies Henry marries again this time to Anne of Cleeves who does not speak English very well and he finds her unattractive so he sends her off to live as his 'sister' so he can marry again.Jane remains at court as a lady in waiting to these queens and Henry does marry again to Katherine Howard, Jane becomes close to 'Kat" and aides her in her adulterous relationship with Thomas Culpepper. Unfortunately Katherine's past does catch up with her in the guise of a childhood friend that she had had a relationship with. Once Henry finds all this out, he imprisons Jane and Katherine, Katherine for adultery and Jane for aiding and abetting Katherine and Thomas's relationship.
    I enjoyed this story very much and it was very well written and researched.

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  • Posted December 4, 2009

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    The Boleyn Wife: a woman of contrasts

    In an enduring tale, filled with intrigue and glamour, love and lust, Brandy Purdy invites the reader into the dynamic world of the Tudors, with her novel The Boleyn Wife. Her heroine Jane in particular, is a vibrant character, not black or white, but with infinite shades of gray. Easily dismissed by all, her words and actions will destroy the Boleyn family, and seal the fates of two of the Queens of Henry VIII.

    Timid and unremarkable, Jane Parker falls in love with her future husband George Boleyn, before she even knows his name. Determined to have him, despite her father's misgivings and with little encouragement from her chosen partner, she is dismayed to find that she has a rival for his affections. His sister, Anne, is the darling of her family, the young fops who are her constant companions, and eventually, the court of King Henry VIII. Through Jane's narration, she comes across as a vapid, scheming woman with no real beauty to recommend her. Yet she has everything Jane wants, especially George's love. Though they are married, Jane seethes with jealousy at his continued devotion to his sister, his love of friends, gaming and prostitutes. Even worse, she is consistently at Anne's side, watching while the King and courtiers fall under her spell.

    When Henry secretly weds Anne and she bears their only daughter Elizabeth, Jane foresees the beginning of the end for her rival, even as she weeps for her own lack of a child with George. She is merciless and heartless in revealing Henry's growing infidelities to a beleaguered Anne. Her desperation achieves none of her goals; George continually shrinks from her and clings to his sister. Unwittingly, Jane plays her role in Anne's ending with the support of Henry's advisor Thomas Cromwell, and also seals the fate of her beloved George in the process.

    Through Jane's eyes, the reader also meets Henry's later Queens. There is the tragic Jane Seymour, mother the prince whom Henry has destroyed his first two marriages to have; Anna of Cleves, who is not quite what she seems, and finally Katherine Howard, whose past and her association with Jane will lead to the downfall of both women. At the end of her life, Jane is haunted by the ghosts of her past, a shadow of the woman who helped engineer Anne Boleyn's death.

    In towering majesty of Tudor castles and the murky depths of dungeons where the King's enemies, real or perceived, live out their last, Ms. Purdy's detailed accounts of the period, a myriad of characters and the settings take the reader on an engrossing journey to the past. A few scenes seemed contrived, requiring Jane to always be at the right place and the right time whenever something went tragically wrong for Anne; whether by peeking through a bedroom door, or being the first to deliver tragic news that caused Anne to suffer her last miscarriage. Jane has gone down in history as the woman who helped destroy Anne Boleyn, but in Ms. Purdy's portrayal, her enduring love for her husband inspires even her most deceitful, damning actions. She remains a woman of many contrasts; devoted to George, but pitiable in her desperation for his affection, made vulnerable by her undying love for him, yet also powerful, in her proximity to the doomed Anne. The Boleyn Wife is an unforgettable read.

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