The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy

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The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Katie Pullen
Reviewed by Katie Pullen
Summary: Lady Jane Parker, wife to Anne Boleyn's brother George, charts the turbulent reigns of five of Henry VIII's wives from Catherine of Aragon's demise through Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, focusing primarily on Anne Boleyn and how Lady Jane herself was instrumental in her downfall and execution. This is a lively account of a fascinating period in history, but readers beware this should be read for pure pleasure and not historical fact.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 978-1847561947

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From the moment she sets eyes on handsome George Boleyn, plain Lady Jane Parker falls madly in love and prays that George will be hers. As Jane and George's families negotiate the marriage Jane meets Anne Boleyn and quickly realises that George only has eyes for Anne, but remains determined that she can make George love her.

After a few years and a stint at court alongside Anne as lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Jane is finally married to George Boleyn. But her dreams of happiness are soon overturned as back at court George becomes more devoted to Anne, leaving Jane jealous and alone. As Anne captivates Henry VIII and indeed the rest of his court, Jane finds herself more of an outsider than ever and her life becomes one of watching from the sidelines as Anne becomes queen. As the years pass and Jane becomes completely overlooked by her husband George in favour of Anne, she soon seeks revenge, and when the King tires of Anne, Jane seizes the opportunity to betray both Anne and George, little realising she will become responsible for their deaths, ruining her own life in the process.

The Tudor period for me has to be one of the most exciting in history and Emily Purdy has certainly captured this here. The novel is full of intrigue, scandal, betrayal, lust, adultery, revenge and murder, all seen through the eyes of Lady Jane Parker.

Jane's narrative throughout is absorbing and reads rather like a fly on the wall documentary as she is witness to key events of the period, such as Anne's rise to power and ultimate destruction through to the execution of Katherine Howard. For anyone who already knows about Jane's testimony against Anne and her brother George, the novel provides some insight into what could have been Jane's reasons for betraying them both, giving another perspective on Anne's downfall.

Unfortunately though Lady Jane is the least interesting character in this book, and spends most of her time bemoaning her unrequited love for George and her jealousy for Anne. This is not Jane's fault though as she really has no life of her own at court as her role is to serve the queen, (whichever one that might be) so it's no surprise that her narrative concentrates on the lives of others, primarily the scheming and manipulative Anne Boleyn. Jane is consumed with Anne's life and as a result the novel admirably captures Anne's character and her unshakeable thirst for power.

The only thing I found slightly grating was how Jane seems to always be in the right place at the right time as events unfold around her. For example, when Anne decides to win Henry back via an elaborate seduction, Jane is somehow able to hide in a wardrobe and can therefore describe what takes place. This all seemed rather implausible and unfortunately made me lose interest at times, as I just couldn't believe what I was reading.

Also the majority of the novel is concerned with Anne Boleyn, leaving Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard with little over a hundred pages between them, making their place in the novel feel rather shoehorned in. The novel may have read better if ended with Anne Boleyn's execution.

Having said that I did enjoy this read from start to finish as Purdy's prose is quick, lively, and the plot is engrossing. A definite recommendation if you are interested in the Tudor period and perhaps its most important queen, Anne Boleyn.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading Suggestion: If you are interested in the Tudor period, try Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel or for a historical read try The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir.

Buy The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy at Amazon.com.


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