Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir
|Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: An insight into the life of Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, haunted by the shadow of her predecessor.|
|Buy? maybe||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 544||Date: May 2018|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
|External links: Author's website|
When it comes to Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, popular opinion is divided. Some see her as a scheming marriage-wrecker from an ambitious family who would stop at nothing to gain favour in the king's eyes. Others view her as a pious and God-fearing woman who brought calm and stability into Henry's life following his turbulent marriage to Anne Boleyn. Perhaps both sides are true, to an extent. In The Haunted Queen, the third book in the Six Tudor Queens series, author and historian Alison Weir puts flesh on the bones of a Queen haunted by the shadow of a formidable predecessor.
Weir presents Jane in a sympathetic light; a devout and religious lady with a gentle demeanour and submissive attitude. Her personality is in stark contrast to the brash and domineering Boleyn, who is portrayed in a harsh and negative manner. The book shows how these very different women had a profound effect on Henry's emotional well-being, which was mirrored by his policies and politics during that period. This was a nation in turmoil. The reformation was affecting the religious and political landscape and creating an atmosphere of uncertainty. Former allies became enemies and the court was a dangerous place to be.
Weir does an excellent job of bringing the pages of history to life; creating living, breathing characters with flaws and weaknesses like our own. Henry is a particularly intriguing character, with great depth to his personality. At times he is disarmingly charming, a cultured gentleman, reciting poetry and appreciating fine art. At other times he can be domineering, harsh, paranoid and extreme. He is almost a Jekyll and Hyde character, with each side fuelled by either Boleyn or Seymour.
Henry's desire and desperation for an heir becomes his driving purpose. After a series of miscarriages, Boleyn's lofty position has become precarious, as Henry longs for a son to carry on his bloodline. Nothing else matters to him, as the formerly haughty queen discovers to her cost. The storyline is engaging and draws the reader in, as we sympathise with the plights of the characters. Yes, we know how the story ends, but Weir makes sure that the journey to that destination is as engrossing as possible.
I did feel that the book was overly long, especially as it started way back in Jane's childhood, so she doesn't actually marry Henry until quite late into the story. Weir does add a lot of factual detail which can affect the pace of the story and weigh it down. It does sometimes feel more like a reference book than fiction, with characters occasionally spouting long, unnatural sentences that could have come directly form an encyclopaedia. The book is over 500 pages long but I feel that a shorter length, without the excess padding, would have been much more enjoyable.
The Haunted Queen is a book that transports the reader to the Tudor court and brings the period to life. It seems like poor Jane was just a pawn in the game of the various players, but at least this story giver her a voice of her own. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.
The series starts with Six Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen.
You can read more book reviews or buy Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.