Title: Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen
Author: Alison Weir
Series: Six Tudor Queens #3
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: May 15th, 2018 (Ballantine Books)
Synopsis: Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s most cherished bride and mother of his only male heir.
Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and, as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—who is also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a painful incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.
But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures his new queen—altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son or will she meet a fate similar to the women who came before her?
Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renown court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it.
This third installment in the Six Tudor Queens series takes a look into the life of Henry VIII’s third queen, Jane Seymour. It starts during Jane’s childhood at Wulfhall, when she wanted more than anything else to be a nun. But soon realizing that the hardships of this life are not for her, she returns home, and following a terrible family scandal, it is arranged for her to go to court and serve Queen Katherine, whom she quickly becomes very devoted to. Jane soon discovers that the vicious rivalry, gossip and intrigue of court life is far from her peaceful life at Wulfhall, and she has arrived at a particularly tumultuous time as the King is actively pursuing an annulment. When the Queen’s household is dismantled, upon her family’s insistence she reluctantly takes a role in Anne Boleyn’s household and Jane watches as Henry goes so far as to break from Rome to secure his new marriage. But it is not long before the King’s attention strays from his new queen, and this time it is to Jane.
It was wonderful to return to the Tudor era of historical fiction that I am familiar with and have long enjoyed. Compared to some of Henry’s other, more notorious queens, there is very little known about Jane, whom he considered his most beloved. I always viewed Jane as the most uninteresting of Henry’s queens by far, entirely too meek, but also possible one of the luckiest, as she gave him his long awaited heir and died soon after before he could find any cause to be displeased with her. While I still find her to be rather boring in comparison, this book shows there was much more to her than is evident at first glance. Her life before entering court was very interesting, as it was a glimpse into her true character and what she was like before she was forced to play the role her family dictated. Of course, what was far more intriguing in this book as compared to the others is that Jane has served both her predecessors and after reading the previous two books, this makes for a fascinating third perspective of their characters.
Alison Weir’s writing and attention to detail is, as always, fantastic, and though I had my reservations about this book in the series in particular prior to reading it, mostly because I didn’t think there would be enough information to fill a book this size, I was quite pleasantly surprised to find otherwise. Another wonderful installment in this series, and I’m really looking forward to reading the next book about Anne of Kleves, perhaps the least well known of Henry’s queens.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: Katherine of Aragón: The True Queen
Book 2: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession
Book 4: Anna of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait