Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Favored Queen A Novel of Henry VIII's Third Wife by Carolly Erickson

The latest volume in Carolly Erickson’s frothy and improbable line of “historical entertainments” is set in Tudor England and tells the story of Jane Seymour, third of the six wives of Henry VIII, and mother to his only legitimate son, Edward VI.

The novel begins with Jane, a devoted to the serene and gracious Queen Catherine of Aragon, who has tried many times, and failed, to give the King the son he covets, enduring her own sorrows over a man. Her engagement to Will Dormer is jeopardized by her father’s seduction of her fiancé’s fourteen-year-old sister. The couple plan to runaway to the Spice Islands to start a new life together, but, for various reasons, this is not to be, so Jane is on hand to be an eyewitness to the rise of the haughty and ambitious Anne Boleyn and the fall of her beloved Queen Catherine, and to surrender her virginity in a midnight rendezvous with a married French glazier she meets when he is hired to make improvements in Anne’s bedchamber.

When the Nun of Kent’s dire predictions of doom drive Anne Boleyn into a paranoid frenzy and her desperation to give Henry a son costs Jane’s lover his life, Jane becomes a quiet enemy waiting in the wings to destroy Anne and the gentle confidante who captures King Henry’s fickle heart.

I have read all Ms. Erickson’s “historical entertainments” to date (I just haven’t reviewed them all yet) and, while I enjoy some more than others, I always find them fun and a breath of fresh air amongst the more ponderous and serious tomes of historical fiction. If you’re not a historical fiction purist and can take them for what they are, and are open to the idea of Jane Seymour as a woman with all too human feelings and longings, neither sinner nor saint, then you just might enjoy this.


Allison Macias said...

I just discovered this one in my local library! May have to check it out and read it soon!!

Brandy Purdy said...

I hope you enjoy it. Her novels, which she calls "historical entertainments," tend to be a bit fanciful, but for me that's part of the fun of reading them, just to see how far she will go. I guess after spending years writing serious historical biographies she's enjoying throwing the facts out the window.