Wednesday 26 March 2014

The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory


Jane Boleyn saved the family's inheritance when she condemned her husband and sister-in-law to their death. Now, she is known as a lady with ambition and a spiteful tongue.

Anne of Cleves escapes her controlling family through her marriage to the King of England. Only she makes a grave mistake and must now learn who to trust and how to survive in a country that has seen the change of three Queens.

Katherine Howard is a young girl, blossoming under the care of her grandmother. She becomes lady-in-waiting to the new Queen, only to find herself the central player of a game that has been played countless times in court.


I'd never expect to rave about Philippa Gregory so much, and then come face to face with a book I simply did not like. Well the time has come, and sadly I have to say The Boleyn Inheritance takes the prize for the worst book (I have read) from Gregory.

That's not to say the book was absolutely dreadful though. I finished it in a good amount of time without feeling like it was a waste of time to read.

The use of three central characters was not as confusing due to Gregory's simple layout. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the female characters, and headed by their name. All three also had their own unique voices, so it felt a lot more believable. I liked that Gregory explored and promoted three characters that were lesser known in history. It is easy to know who King Henry VIII married but only a few are "famous"/well-known. Whilst it is fictionalised Gregory did refer to primary sources and other evidence to build a life around the characters, so it's not completely untrue.

I found the voices of the character weren't at all intriguing though. At first I was really amused by Kitty's daftness and self-interest. She is a 14 year old girl who revels in the attention given by people around her, especially men, because of her beauty. Her only interest is herself and what she can gain from the attention. Except I felt like her voice started to become so whiny and very naive. I'd figure historically a 14 year old girl would be educated enough to understand her role in life and how the court works. Kitty's voice actually suited a modern day teen instead (although I'm not saying all teens are whiny and self-centred).

Anne sounded like she had no personality. She was flat and dreary the entire way through and I skipped her parts at the end when she because almost irrelevant. Although with her upbringing, it is quite understandable to see why she had no talents or wit. She was smart enough to save her neck and compassionate enough to be liked, but eventually became very boring.

Jane was by far the most interesting because she was the central player. Using her influence and knowledge she tried to play things to her (and her "family's") advantage. I liked that Gregory gave her a chance to justify her actions. Whether it was true or not is very debatable, but at least in this story she sounded logical enough. Logical in the sense that it made sense to her beliefs, even if it didn't resonate with my own values. That made her a complex character with enough development to not fall flat.

The Boleyn Inheritance depended on the characters to really make the story, considering everything was through their recount. I didn't feel anything but annoyance and boredom with the characters, so I guess the story just didn't work for me. Maybe it will for you though?

Rating: 3/5

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