Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen
I’ve always been (mildly) interested in the history of the British monarchy; and there’s not anyone much more interesting that Henry the VIII (and of course his 6 wives!).
I’ll admit to a period of intense reading of the Phillipa Gregory novels (reloaded in the early 2000s) which then lead to some additional reading of other similar fiction but based on fact reading around these fascinating times. But eventually, I’d had enough. There’s only so much you can read about the court, double-crossing, rumours, and intrigue that seemed to be the lifeblood of those time (quite literally!). But, it’s been nearly 15 years since I binged on Tudor history, and when this novel crossed my desk I thought it was time to re-visit the king’s court.
Jane Seymour is suggested as the queen that Henry loved the most; due to the fact that she gave him a son; that he mourned extensively at her death; and is buried next to her. There has however been much debate as to whether she was a shrewd manipulator who sought to overthrow the previous queen, or whether we saw a (somewhat) innocent, virtuous woman who legitimately fell in love with the King.
In this novel Weir throws her cards in with the later, stating that her research suggests that Jane was a good woman, caught in a dangerous game. It makes compelling reading and was a delight to read. It’s clear that Weir is an historian with a real knack for translating what would be massive of in depth knowledge into a charming and detailed work of fiction. This novel could have become overwhelming and filled with details that the author felt were important, or could have chosen to include to demonstrate her wide-ranging research but which in reality added no value to the reader; and whilst it is a long novel it never felt like a chore and the extra details added to my knowledge of the times and the feeling of deep immersion that this novel creates.
For those who know the story it’s fair to say there are no surprises, but just in case this is your first encounter with the Tudors, I’ll not spoil the ending! This is an excellent historical novel and I’d highly recommend it. If you’d like to read more of the Tudor wives – Weir has already released Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, I suspect they’re excellent as well. I certainly would read them if they popped up on a bookshelf near me and will happily put my name down to read and review the next three.
About the Author
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published eighteen history books, including Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York, and eight historical novels. Her latest biography is Queens of the Conquest, and her latest novel is Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, the third in her Six Tudor Queens series.