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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy

Genre: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 2010

Pages: 327 (includes Reader's Guide)

Rating: 2.5/5 Crowns

Source: ARC provided by the author

Synopsis: Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue--until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal. . .Encompassing the reigns of four of Henry's wives, from the doomed Anne to the reckless Katherine Howard, The Boleyn Wife is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust, and jealousy, of the power of love to change the course of history, and of the terrible price of revenge.

Review: In The Boleyn Wife we are given possible answers to the question “what was Jane Rochford thinking” when she not only gave damning evidence against her husband and sister-in-law, but later when she helped the king’s fifth wife commit adultery. As Jane tells her own story, we see the idealistic young girl’s fantasies of marital bliss turn from disappointment to bitterness and ultimately, to an all-consuming hatred. Purdy does a pretty good job of getting inside Jane’s head and we feel Jane’s pain and heartbreak as she realizes who really holds her husband’s affection. At times I felt sorry for her; at times I wanted to wring her neck!

Overall, I enjoyed Purdy’s writing style and found it engaging and entertaining, finishing the book in a couple of days. She does take substantial liberties with historical facts and includes most of the lies and myths that evolved about Anne. She also throws in a couple of incidents for which (as far as I know) there is no historical basis at all. Although these make for interesting reading (and I give her credit for being creative), I hope the final version of the book includes some kind of author’s note or information detailing what is fact and what is not.

The first person narration caused me some problems. Although this choice perhaps let us get inside Jane's head a little more, this benefit is quickly outweighed by the need to have Jane in the right place and the right time – hiding behind trees or tapestries, looking through keyholes and making mad dashes to someone’s room in order to hide in the cupboard – far too many times to be believable. It became too convenient and too contrived and often just silly.

Then there are the sexual references. Now I don’t mind a little bit of good sex in a book especially if it adds to the development of a character or the story line. And while I don’t like it all flowery and purpley, I also don’t like for it to sound like something you would overhear in a high school locker room. Purdy takes the latter approach and it’s often pretty coarse. There are a couple of instances (one in particular involving a jar of honey) that I thought were unnecessary and added absolutely nothing to the story other than perhaps providing shock value and “sex for sexes sake” – neither of which I appreciate. Sadly, this along with the first person narration issues detracted from what otherwise might have been a pretty good book.

The Boleyn Wife will be released in the US on January 26, 2010 and in the UK as The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy in April. It should also be noted that the book was previously published under the title Vengence is Mine.

Visit Daphne at her blog Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff


Blodeuedd said...

Sounds like an interesting read. Nice review, but that was sure a lot of names for one book

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

This does sound like an interesting read, and Jane Rochford has always fascinated me, but first person narrations are always difficult to pull off.

CelticLady said...

I enjoyed this book very much!! Good review

dolleygurl said...

I have heard several people say the same things about this book. I think that I will pass over this book- not take the chance.

Jennifer said...

Jane's story intrigues me. I love the cover. I might check this out once it comes out in paperback.

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict

Daphne said...

Dolley - it's not a bad book; just not a particularly great one either. I tend to dislike first person narratives generally and I think the use of first person hurt the story quite a bit.

Jennifer - according to Amazon, the book will initially be released as a paperback.

misskallie2000 said...

Thanks for your honest reveiw. I think I know what you are saying about the extras in the sex. Sometimes too much is said and it actually makes you not want to read anymore on the book or the author. As the saying goes, "A Little Dab will do you.LOL..

Clare said...

I'm so glad you said it was published before as Vengeance is Mine when you mentioned the honey part it sounded familiar now I know I read it, its a good one IMO but, not great.

Robinbird said...

I agree with what you've said in the review, Daphne. While seeing this part of history through new eyes was very intriguing, some of the things thrown in really bring it down. I couldn't believe how many places Jane managed to show up!