Author Laurien Gardner tells the story of King Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, in the illuminating novel, Plain Jane. Though Jane was born plain-featured, she would win the heart of the mighty King Henry VIII and become the highest woman in England (if only for a short time).
Being the less attractive daughter, Jane’s parents rarely pay her much mind are convinced she’ll never make a good marriage unless it’s to the church. Her sisters are spoiled with new gowns and Jane gets the hand-me-downs, even with education Jane got stiffed! Sir Frances Bryan, a friend of the Seymours, takes pity on Jane, who he thinks very highly of as she is light of heart and lively. He takes her to court where she is a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and subsequently Anne Boleyn.
Jane is the picture of morality and goodness, qualities which attracts Henry once his lust for Anne Boleyn has turned sour. At first, Jane is taken aback by the King’s flirtations; she couldn’t understand how he could be attracted to such different women. Whether spurred on by Anne Boleyn’s constant jibes (there are some great catty scenes courtesy of Anne) or her own need to prove to everyone that she’s much more than plain she returns Henry’s affections and settles in to her life as Queen.
Unfortunately, her tenure would not last long and Jane would die two weeks after the birth of Henry’s much longed for son and heir, a year and a half after becoming Queen.
Plain Jane is an engaging look at a charming and gracious woman who most people overlooked, but rose to be the Queen of England. I highly recommend!
Passages to the Past