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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen

Title:  Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen (Six Tudor Queens #3)
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: 3rd May 2018 by Hachette (Headline Review)
Pages: 560 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, Tudors
My Rating: 4.5 crowns


Eleven days after the death of Anne Boleyn, Jane is dressing for her wedding to the King.
She has witnessed at first hand how courtly play can quickly turn to danger and knows she must bear a son . . . or face ruin.
This new Queen must therefore step out from the shadows cast by Katherine and Anne. In doing so, can she expose a gentler side to the brutal King?
Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir draws on new research for her captivating novel, which paints a compelling portrait of Jane and casts fresh light on both traditional and modern perceptions of her. Jane was driven by the strength of her faith and a belief that she might do some good in a wicked world.
History tells us how she died.
This spellbinding novel explores the life she lived.
My Thoughts

I am a fan of Tudor history and was looking forward to reading how Alison Weir would present her version of this well known period from history, having not read anything of hers before. I have not read the other two books, but each can be read as a standalone. At almost 600 pages, it is a definite commitment to undertake these epic reads but I believe one well worth the journey. The amount of detail that is provided will seamlessly transport you back to Tudor England and on this occasion, into the life of probably the least known of Henry’s wives.

Credit must be given to Weir and the amount of research - both old and new that I will elaborate on later - she delves into. It is an absolute credit to her that she produces such an easy to follow reenactment with the amount of cross checking of historical detail that she must have gone to. For you see, with so little information left behind on Jane Seymour, Weir makes the most of the bare facts that remain and fills the remainder in with rich imagery. In the perfect blend of historical fact and fictional story, a fascinating portrayal is presented of what might have occured during these tumultuous times.

I learnt much about Jane Seymour from the age of ten at her family home of Wulff Hall until her death after the birth of the long awaited Tudor prince. Always portrayed as modest and quiet, she was still well acquainted with court life having served both Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Having witnessed the downfall of not one but two queens would have been intimidating for any person and following the exuberant Anne, Jane would always be viewed in stark contrast. However, Weir goes to great lengths to try and present a much more interesting version.

In the ‘Author’s Note’ at the conclusion, Weir explains how she came by her interpretation of events, and this I very much enjoyed. With so little to go on i.e. there were no significant writings or letters left behind from this Queen, it was up to Weir to source information from alternate testimonies. This she does well and presents clear justifications on the conclusions she reached. The most notable here, is of course, the death of Jane which most would say was due to complications associated with childbirth. However, Weir collaborated with nurses and other medical specialists to come to her own conclusion (I won’t spoil it for you). I found her theories fascinating and had not heard of them before, but given the amount of thought and research she went to, one cannot help but be converted to her proposal.

Therefore, if you’re a Tudor fan, I can say without any shadow of a doubt you will love this introduction and interpretation into the life of this lesser known queen. However,  I also feel there is plenty here to entice any lover of historical fiction.

‘It was a terrifying world she inhabited, and suddenly she wanted with all her heart to go home, to a place that was safe and normal, where the old ways mattered and good people did not suffer for following their consciences, and where you could observe your faith in the time-hallowed ways.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

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