The parts of the book that are documented are brilliantly done, the rest teeters dangerously into the realm of outright fanfiction Fox is hampered by the fact there is so little information on Jane Boleyn, and all the guessing is annoying, but the previously ignored facts she does unearth, such as the fairly well documented life of her father and his family, is fascinating to read, giving yet another layer to contemplate about the bustling court of Henry VII My own guess is this book got the green light due to the success of Philippa Gregory Fox needs to tighten her writing a little and be able to back up all, not just some, of her statements with solid proof A good first foray into the realm of the others of history, hopefully next time she will do better.
In A Life Of Extraordinary Drama, Jane Boleyn Was Catapulted From Relative Obscurity To The Inner Circle Of King Henry VIII As Powerful Men And Women Around Her Became Victims Of Henry S Ruthless And Absolute Power, Including Her Own Husband And Sister In Law, Queen Anne Boleyn, Jane S Allegiance To The Volatile Monarchy Was Sustained And Rewarded But The Price For Her Loyalty Would Eventually Be Her Undoing And The Ruination Of Her Name For Centuries, Little Beyond Rumor And Scandal Has Been Associated With The Infamous Lady Rochford But Now Historian Julia Fox Sets The Record Straight And Restores Dignity To This Much Maligned Figure Whose Life And Reputation Were Taken From HerBorn To Aristocratic Parents In The English Countryside, Young Jane Parker Found A Suitable Match In George Boleyn, Brother To Anne, The Woman Who Would Eventually Be The Touchstone Of England S Greatest Political And Religious Crisis Once Settled In The Bustling, Spectacular Court Of Henry VIII As The Wife Of A Nobleman, Jane Was Privy To The Regal Festivities Of Masques And Jousts, Royal Births And Funerals, And She Played An Intimate Part In The Drama And Gossip That Swirled Around The King S Court But It Was Anne Boleyn S Descent From Palace To Prison That First Thrust Jane Into The Spotlight Impatient With Anne S Inability To Produce A Male Heir, King Henry Accused The Queen Of Treason And Adultery With A Multitude Of Men, Including Her Own Brother, George Jane Was Among Those Interrogated In The Scandal, And Following Two Swift Strokes From The Executioner S Blade, She Lost Her Husband And Her Sister In Law, Her Inheritance And Her Place In Court SocietyNow The Thirty Year Old Widow Of A Traitor, Jane Had To Ensure Her Survival And Protect Her Own Interests By Securing Land And Income With Sheer Determination, She Navigated Her Way Back Into Royal Favor By Becoming Lady In Waiting To Henry S Three Subsequent Brides, Jane Seymour, Anne Of Cleves, And Catherine Howard At Last Jane S Future Seemed Secure Until An Unwitting Misstep Involving The Sexual Intrigues Of Young Queen Catherine Destroyed The Life And Reputation Jane Worked So Hard To RebuildDrawing Upon Her Own Deep Knowledge And Years Of original Research, Julia Fox Brings Us Into The Inner Sanctum Of Court Life, Laced With Intrigue And Encumbered By Disgrace Through The Eyes And Ears Of Jane Boleyn, We Witness The Myriad Players Of The Stormy Tudor Period Jane Emerges As A Courageous Spirit, A Modern Woman Forced By Circumstances To Fend For Herself In A Privileged But Vicious World First offjust found out I can do this through facebookv coolOkay now to the bookIt s basically hmm this what I think happened and Jane was a 16th century woman so she would and then she got her head chopped off Women in the 16th century, unless they were women in extraordinary circumstances, were simply not well documented And Jane just wasn t And we just don t know But to say in the absence of not knowing that we should assume she was a poor maligned victim of circumstanceis a bit much The author extrapolated a LOTWhat we do know is that she was married to George Boleyn and testified willingly or not against her husband and sister in law and was enough in favor that she was brought back to be a lady in waiting to Jane Seymour We also know that she facilitated a queen cheating on the king Willingly or not, that s just a dumb dumb dumb move.
And I could get behind dumb and caught up in the moment SureI ll buy that I won t buy she was innocent victim of circumstance and by the time she realized culpepper and catherine were doing the nasty, her only choice was to help them arrange places for said nastiness Honestly, most of this book was about Anne Boleyn, with the Jane would have Jane could have Jane might have thought to tie the facts to the title pageand they were tied loosely.
Fine to read I skimmed a lot, but at the end, I couldn t pick Jane out of a crowd The author stated she wanted to rehabilitate public opinion of Jane Boleyn A fine goal, but you can t just have gut instinct and hopeful interpretation of the facts to do so Jane might have been a innocent bystander, or she might have been an awful human being After reading this book, I couldn t tell you which she was any than I could have before reading it.
If you have some free time, surebut if you re looking for insight and historical researchlook elsewhere.
When first faced with this book, my mind was intrigued I was hoping that finally I would get a indepth introspective look at the motivations and movements behind the choices and life of that infamous bawd Jane Rochford Indeed, if you are new in your knowledge about the Tudor era England, this book will be of some use and give you an interesting viewpoint to the life of Lady Jane Parker, who would become Jane Boleyn aka The Viscountess of Rochford.
If you are not new, such as myself, sadly this book doesn t not really give any new introspect to Jane Boleyn s side to the story In fact, there were times such as when she was a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleeves I was hoping would have of a thorough telling Even her saucy if not ill situation of being used as the go between between her Majesty Katherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper It is even surprising the author doesn t go indepth amongst the circumstances of Jane s execution Henry VIII actually CHANGED the law forbidding execution of the mentally insane JUST to execute her This is merely passed over.
The author is definately sympathetic to Jane s situation She defends her saying that it would be silly for Jane Rochford to be sympathetic to Mary I s plight while her own Boleyn in laws were in power yet throughout the book the author suggests that Jane may have even been close to Mary I in court albeit this is through maybe s could haves might haves.
In fact, what angered me about this book was that save for the facts concerning Jane s legal issues mainly, her marriage to George Boleyn , the book is full of guesses and might haves A book that suggests to be a true story didn t even solidly argue a lot of the points they put forward It didn t even try to guess why Jane George never had issue children or why Jane chose to stay single after her husband s execution The first part of the book in fact goes into great detail about Henry VIII and his plight in marrying Anne Boleyn, which, while I can understand why it is relevant for Jane s backstory in helping understand what her motivations MIGHT have been it is irksome to read page upon page about Henry Anne, when you wanted a book about Jane.
I do not doubt the writer did her research, and there is just sadly not much detail left concerning Jane Boleyn s life to truly know the TRUTH of her story or her shortcomings If you are a Tudor history fanatic, I would suggest skipping this book, as it doesn t offer very much insight on the life of Jane In some cases, the argument which the author puts forth would have been better placed in a paper than enough new information to fill a book.
The problem is, there wasn t enough info on Lady Rochford to fill a 50 page book, much less a 300 page book So 5 6 of the book is either conjecture or information that belongs in other people s biographies, like Anne Boleyn s or Catherine Howard s.
Like so many popular history books this is written by someone who is neither an academic nor a historian and I m afraid in shows in her methodology, thinking and general approach This is a book driven by a personal desire to vindicate a figure who has been vilified by history but sadly there is no evidence to offer the other side of the story and plenty, although Fox denies or erases it, to support if not prove the conventional reading As a result this book is full of might have , probably , possibly and perhaps.
Fox frequently attributes feelings and emotions to Jane Parker that other people had, along the lines of if someone else thought something then Jane must have too Sometimes this might have been true, for example when discussing the impact of the young Henry VIII on young women of the court, but there is nothing to indicate that this is the case and so the whole light argument of the book is built on very flimsy and unstable foundations.
That said, this is a really enjoyable read if you stop thinking about it as history and view it as a novel Fox has a flowing style and the ability to pick out telling detail that creates a vivid and real tapestry Sometimes her style grates colloquialisms such as Katherine s gynecological history was a nightmare stand out, or Henry VIII loving executive toys on his desk but generally this is a fascinating if historically flawed read.
Do also be aware that this really isn t and can t be the story of Jane Boleyn two thirds of the book re tells the story of the Boleyns and specifically Anne s triumph and fall, and the remaining third covers the other marriages and particularly Catharine Howard s fall and the execution of Jane.
Too many popular historians are given the title without any actual training or background in history and then are feted for excellent research I m afraid that despite her academically impeccable husband John Guy, Fox falls into the same category as Sarah Gristwood, Alison Weir, and others Although to be fair the issue with Fox is the complete lack of sources, not her critical evaluation of them and their biases and reliability which is frequently the problem with other historians e.
So overall I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it but treat it like a Philippa Gregory novel rather than researched and verified history.
I picked this up because Hilary Mantel spoke well of it in the afterword to Bring Up The Bodies The idea is that this is a biography of Jane Boleyn, wife of George Boleyn and sister in law to Anne Boleyn However, Jane herself appears precious little in this account This is not so much a biography of Jane as a retelling of the rise and fall of the Boleyn and connected families through the lens of what Jane may or may not have possibly seen whilst at court Again, this is history that reads like a novel, so I was often unsure as to what was documented fact and what was a probably but unconfirmed situation Jane herself appears, briefly and tantalizingly, towards the end of the book when Fox goes into a discussion of how Jane secured her financial situation following the downfall of George I appreciate that Fox might not have had much primary source material to work with that pertained specifically to Jane, but I still felt her absence throughout the entire work I continued on hoping that Fox would untangle the question as to why Jane allegedly betrayed the Boleyns and yet aided and abetted Katherine Howard in her scandalous end Again, Fox touches on this only at the very end of the work, though the discussion of how history came to portray Jane is an admirable piece of work I just wish she had given the rest of the book a similar treatment.
There is a reason that there are eleventy gazillion non fiction books about Anne Boleyn, and only one as far as I know devoted to her sister in law Jane Rochford While Anne s life is fairly well documented after her arrival at the English court, the known facts of Jane Rochford s life are of such limited number they are better suited to a brief Wikipedia page than a full length book This is not a book about Jane Rochford it is a book about the author s suppositions Jane probably did this, may have done that, and almost certainly would have been there I find it strange that the author claims to have uncovered a kinder, gentler, misunderstood Jane, but offers little in the way of evidence Most of Jane s bad press comes from the fact one of the few that we have that she testified against her husband in court and contributed to his death Sixteenth century politics were brutal I am not denying that Jane may have been misled or manipulated and History is inevitably written by the victors Anne Boleyn s daughter lived to tell the last tale, and who knows what records or documents were destroyed But the fact is we don t have enough firm evidence to make any new conclusions about Jane s relationship with her husband One letter asking about his health doesn t override that fact that she helped send him to his death Again, I m not saying our current perception of Jane Rochford is accurate I just need actual proof before accepting the author s conclusions that we should change that perception and why is Jane Seymour on the cover There are any number of Unknown Tudor Lady portraits they could have used why use one that most emphatically isn t Jane Rochford
Jane may or may not have been elegant, poised, and animated, as Fox insists she was But the fact is, we have no way of knowing All but a few hours of her life are a complete mystery to us The best Fox can do is guess and guess she does, throughout the entire book And for a history that encompasses the love affairs and executions of two fascinating queens, particularly one riddled with conjecture, the book is surprisingly dry I used it as a sleep aid.