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The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy
August 29, 2015
12:19 am
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Mindy
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Hello All,
This is a book review that I did for Good Reads. If this is in the wrong place I apologize.

The book is Historical Fiction on Lady Rochford (George Boleyn’s Widow). It was okay, but only gained 2 stars from me.

May contain Spoilers you are warned 😀

Goodreads asks: What do you think? Of the books I have read and reviewed, I believe this is the lowest-reviewed book I have done. Why?

I have been a ‘student’ of Tudor history since I was fifteen years old. For the most part, I have generally stayed away from the Historical fiction aspect of this time period, because as any student of this particular area of history can attest, it doesn’t really need any help to be dramatic. But I have also come to the conclusion that historical fiction becomes a bit of a necessity and when done properly, can be done right without lots of eye rolling and eyebrow raising.

This book is about Lady Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn. Lady Jane is a controversial figure in Tudor history to be sure: some feel she was the direct reason for Anne Boleyn’s arrest and subsequent execution, along with her purported lovers, including George. In the same breath, there are those that feel she was every bit of a victim of her circumstances and reacted to a loveless marriage (which is also conjecture). Purdy takes the view that Lady Jane loved a man that didn’t love her in return.

I did enjoy the way the story began. A young woman that fell in love at first sight with George Boleyn. But as the relationship somewhat progresses, Jane’s observances fall to how George & Anne interact–almost like a married couple. Instead of feeling welcomed by Anne and all her questions, Jane is immediately suspicious, even to the point following Anne and watching her lose her virginity.

I had to go back about half-way through the book to see the copyright date. I had begun finding little bits that I thought were almost verbatim what was shown on The Tudors. It became a bit more, and difficult is not the word I am looking for but will have to do, to get through.

Jane recounts sleeping with Cromwell and divulging Anne’s lovers as she beds him, then becomes peeved when her plan absolutely destroys her life. After that…well…

As I stated before, I have no problem with historical fiction, but this left me wondering on so many levels.

Purdy seems to gloss over the characters interactions with both Catherine of Aragon & Jane Seymour. In fact, I almost had to laugh at the Jane Seymour segment. It almost read as “Jane had white blonde hair and her style was different. At the wedding reception, she changed into a gown that would have made Anne Boleyn look glamorous but on Jane, made her look sallow and puny. And then she died in childbirth.”

She also seemed to have a very interesting idealism for Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Most who know anything about Henry VIII’s wives, knows that the marriage between him and Anne of Cleves was a disaster almost from the start. Purdy has scenes of how much they try to turn Anne into something more appealing and failing miserably.

Yet. . .

Katherine Howard not only enjoyed sexual romps with men but apparently, she also enjoyed sexual romps with Anne of Cleves….and a jar of Honey.

Yep…hot queenly lesbian action.

Probably the most preposterous notion is what Anne of Cleves admits later on: that she had studied what happened to her predecessors to the thrown. She made herself seem more unappealing to the King in order to receive land, generous allowance and stay her life in England. In other words, she had purposely made herself disgusting to the king.

These two aspects of this book probably had me shaking my head the most with Purdy. That and the obvious need to capitalize on the popularity of The Tudors

Like I stated earlier, I feel that Lady Jane Rochford’s story was pretty dramatic to begin with. Not much is really known about her but is capitalizing on what we see on TV really doing the character justice? After all, history even shows that George willing received a letter from Jane in reality while Purdy had him spurring her all the way to the grave…

…and I won’t even get into the caressing his detached head before burial…because…yes, gross.

August 30, 2015
10:02 am
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Boleyn
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I believe that Jane was a victim of circumstance, time and tide have blamed her for what happened to Anne and George, etc, but I don’t believe she had anything to do with what happened to them. Henry wanted rid of Anne, and told Cromwell to get the job done, as quickly as possible. Henry didn’t care how or why he did it, he just wanted them gone.
I do believe however that Jane was questioned as were Anne’s other ladies, but anything she said (and the others) Cromwell pervertedely twisted into something that Henry wanted to hear.
I personally feel that poor Jane was used as a cat’s paw, but equally so if we can believe what has been said of her I would question why she was allowed to stay at court and serve 3 other queens? If she was a black as was painted surely no-one in court wouldn’t want that type of person anywhere within their household, least of all the cream of the crop queenly household.
In my opinion when Henry and Cromwell did their hatchet job of the Boleyn’s he had to make sure that the whole Boleyn name was blackened, and sadly this included poor Jane, she stayed at court simply because she had no where else to go, but the fact she went on to serve in the next 3 queens households, shows me at least that Henry and Cromwell’s plan wasn’t entirely successful, I agree their would have been some who perhaps would have viewed Jane with suspicion, but in time they also began to view her differently.
She was supposed to have lost her wits for a while, after K.H’s downfall and I can understand that, she had tried very hard to live down the name of a sly husband and Queen murdering old harpy, over the years and she had just about managed it too. K.H and Culpepper tried to blame her for their affair I use the term affair in the loosest sense here because I don’t believe there was anything sexual about it.
In short K.H and Culpepper tried to use Jane as their scapegoat. No one would believe Jane whatever she said due to her past history with scandal, so it seemed so easy to K.H and Culpepper to blame her. Jane would have known that and in the hopelessness of the whole situation, just went a little squirrels, and wondered if she would ever be able to live down what was being thrown at her once again.
To her credit she went to her death with dignity but it really was a needless death, but it was just of course because of Henry’s sadistic need for blood. K.H in my opinion was another needless death, but I do have a theory on why Henry killed her. K.H was guilty in part of the crimes she was accused of, but there is no way I believe she committed treason. She was a young girl forced into a situation, she simply didn’t have any choice over, we don’t exactly know her age at death but I’m guessing she was around late 17 or early 18ish making her around late 15 or early 16ish when she married Henry. I accept that she may well have been a little immature (really a little girl in a lion’s den world) but she knew enough to know that once married she was to knuckled down and be a wife, even if she didn’t really like or love the man she was married to. I don’t think she loved Henry in the fullest sense of the word, but he was kind to her, and pampered her in a way she never got from anyone else in her life. The Duchess in my opinion carries the blame for this, because if she had done a better job in looking after her and the the girls in her household K.H wouldn’t have gone off the rails with either Mannox or Dereham. Mannox I believe was just as it was stated furtive gropings, but it was enough to awaken K.H sexual desire.
Dereham well we all know what happened there, I don’t believe there was a pre contract, between them, but they had perhaps discussed something about marriage. I believe that Dereham gave K.H a purse of money to look after when he went to Ireland, and that when he came back he was surprized to find that not only had K.H gone to court but had married the King as well, he had perhaps hoped that she would still been with the Duchess and that now he had enough money to support them both that it was his intention to ask the Duchess about marriage with K.H. The Duchess was foolish enough to write him a letter of recommendation for him to get a place in K.H’s household, and this was the start of K.H’s nightmare.
Culpepper’s letter that K.H’s is supposed to have written to me really doesn’t make a lot of sense, it’s very muddled and the more I read, the more I believe it has been cobbled together from bits of other letters. I think that K.H wrote the letters, but they were written by her for other girls in her household at Horsham. In short they looked to her to carry on their love affairs by letter with their beau’s, simply because they hadn’t been taught to write.
K.H was a foolish teenager, but then aren’t all teenagers foolish at times? They play with fire and often get burnt but eventually they come good, in K.H’s case she really wasn’t ready to be thrown into the Adult world, and the court was simply too much for her to handle, so she turned to the freinds she had at Horsham to try and help her to cope. They were sort of like her safety blanket, with them around she could at least be what she was a young girl.
Some people speak of blackmail, when it came to her downfall, in the sense that either Culpepper or K.H, found out something about her past and blackmailed her to keep quiet and assist them in keeping their meetings secret. In my opinion that is rubbish.
As for her and George’s marriage being happy or not, we will never really know the answer to that, I personally think that it was a fairly amicable arrangement and that they both did their duty to one another. If Jane hated Anne (and George) as is portrayed in the Tudors and in the 1970’s series of Henry 8th. I doubt she would have confronted a lady who who had caught the eye of Henry shortly before or after Elizabeth’s birth.
I suggest you read Claire Cherry and Claire Ridgway book on George Boleyn, it is very good and shows George from a very different viewpoint. We always tend to view George as just an extension to Anne’s star, but he was actually a very talented and gifted young man himself.

Hmm the caressing of the head part seems very like a story I once heard abut Owen Tudor. We all known his story, married to Catherine of Valois, fought again the York rose and was beheaded in Hereford town Square, (which as it goes I was walking through just a few days ago, as we go on holiday up there every August to visit my family) anyway the story goes that after Owen head was smitten from his body it was placed on the town hall steps. When of course the crowd cleared and went home, a woman in a tattered dress sat down on the steps and picked up Owen head and placed it on her lap, she then pulled out a comb and combed his hair and then kissed him tenderly, before dissolving into tears, and still holding his head rocked back and forth until the authorites came and took the head from her by force. The woman was supposed to have screamed at them in a stream of French, which led some people to think that it was Catherine of Valois, only given that Catherine was dead by this point this simply wasn’t possible. It may well have been one of Catherine’s French maids however, who had perhaps taken a fancy to Owen during his marriage to Catherine, and fancy which I’m sure Owen might well have satisfied. True or not it does make a pretty story.
I think many fictional writers use little local legends to include in their books, it does no harm and perhaps helps to tie together a few straggling story lines.
You are quite right about the fictional and fictional side of things. Factual history is far more interesting, but fictional stuff, is what the average Joe blogs want, and read. For some when they have read fictional history they go out and and want to find out the truth behind the fluffy bunny side of things, but for the most part they are happy enough to accept what what they have read to be enough for them to cope with.

For the likes of thee and me Mindy it’s simply not enough and we go out and want to know more. This is why it’s homes like this that are so important to us, because in it we have others who want to find out the truth. Put simply we have a great big growing family of some of the finest minds, from all walks of life. We share our knowledge and have the greatest respect for each other, even if at times we have to agree to disagree on certain points, if we always agreed with each other it would be a very boring world. We really are one big happy history loving. family.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 30, 2015
10:05 am
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Boleyn
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By the way the mention of lesbian action, was sort of implied in the Tudors. There was a scene when K.H and Joan Bulmer were sharing a bed, and Joan Bulmer traced her finger over K.H’s naked shoulder.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

September 2, 2015
11:39 pm
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Anyanka
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Boleyn said

By the way the mention of lesbian action, was sort of implied in the Tudors. There was a scene when K.H and Joan Bulmer were sharing a bed, and Joan Bulmer traced her finger over K.H’s naked shoulder.

Lies and Lust in the Tudor Court has a scene where AoC talks to KH about ways that women enjoy themselves without men..it reads like a seduction scene..

It's always bunnies.

September 3, 2015
5:23 pm
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Sharon
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I have not read Purdy’s book, nor do I intend to read it. I have a real problem with authors who write stereotypical books on this era. I have studied this period for years, and I get very offended by the sensationalism that goes on with the characters who were living, breathing people who were trying to survive in a very cutthroat court.
Jane caressed George’s detached head? C’mon! Will it never end?
I wish authors would stop making Jane out to be evil incarnate. For me, these stories give Henry exactly what he was seeking all along. The ruination of the Boleyn name for all time.
I agree, Mindy, Jane’s story is dramatic enough. Why make up this crazy stuff? I am very sympathetic towards her and the rest of the Boleyns.

“I die the Queen of England, but I would have rather died the wife of Thomas Culpeper.” I haven’t read Lies and Lust, Anyanka. I did check out Amazon’s blurb. The brief synopsis with this sentence in quotes was enough for me.

September 4, 2015
7:18 am
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Boleyn
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I’m not sure, but I don’t think K.H actually said that at all Sharon.
I totally agree with you over Henry’s hatchet job on the Boleyn’s it was to blacken them completely.. Didn’t work though did it?
All his blustering and ballast on how wicked she was and that she bewitched and betrayed him etc, just added fuel to the fire and has kept the Boleyn’s memory alive.
They have more champions now then she had perhaps back then.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

September 4, 2015
12:50 pm
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Sharon
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No Boleyn, she did not say that. I guess I was unclear. I won’t read Lies and Lust b/c of that statement appearing in the blurb about the book. If they can’t get that part right, it’s probably not a book I would want to read.
The Boleyns have always received attention, but it hasn’t always been good. Even today, people are likely to think the worst of them. Sometimes I think Henry’s tactics worked. Look how often something is said that makes our heads hit our desks. But yes, today the Boleyn’s do have many people who try to correct the wrongs which have been said about them for 500 years.

September 4, 2015
2:59 pm
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Boleyn
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There are always people who believe that Anne was guilty as charged, and yeah it makes me want to climb the walls and bite lumps out of Dinosaur too.
Because of the way Henry’s hatchet job was, rather that making people forget Anne and the Boleyn’s he has rendered them immortal. Many people remember H8 as a big fat useless waste of stinking space (well that my view) but equally so he’s the man who turned England inside out all for the love of one woman, and turned it upside down to rid himself of her.
Apart from the fame of having 6 wives, the most memorable of his wives is Anne Boleyn, followed by Katherine Parr who survived Henry’s chopping block by a whisker.

The most tragic I think are 1. K.H, she was cruelly used and abused by everyone who knew her. Her friends in Horsham, The Duchess, that slimy toad Norfolk, Mannox who abused his position as well as her (although I do feel that he did what it said on the box “Furtive Gropings”) Dereham, who took advantage of K.H’s naivety. And lastly Fat useless stinking H8. Poor K.H stood no chance in the lions den of court iniquitety and was soon crunched up and spat out by the wolves that stalked the walls and corridors only to be swallowed whole by the rest of the court.
K.O.A was very badly treated, but I have to admit I admire her courage and determination to hold on to what she had, but in the end it did her no good and she died a lonely death.

The lucky ones were perhaps Jane Seymour, who aside from the son she bore, died before Fat Arse could tire of her and resort to drastic measures to rid himself of her. (I believe it’s fairly conceivable that had Jane lived and perhaps maybe produced a spare, fat arse would have had her bumped off by poison when he grew tired of her, that way he could appear blameless and blamed her illness on some tersian fever, and given how paranoid he was he might well have got away with it too, as everytime someone coughed sneezed or farted at court he ran a mile. He couldn’t chop her up as that would more or less declare that Edward was a bastard, and he couldn’t risk that..)
Anne of Cleves was clever enough to see the wood from the trees and got out in one piece, strange that despite her fall from grace she and Fat arse became good friends. But she lived comfortably off until Fat arse died, after that things weren’t so easy for her and suffered somewhat financially during Edward’s short reign, forcing her at one point to write to her brother and beg money from him. Whether she got it was a different matter.

Derek Wilson believes that Fat arse was possibly a phychopath and I actually agree that is very possible, his behaviour was certainly not normal.
Ultimetely it was Fat arse’s behaviour that managed to ailenate almost everyone from his close circle and he died a bitter and lonely death in much the same way K.O.A did.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

September 5, 2015
12:45 am
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Anyanka
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Sharon said

I have not read Purdy’s book, nor do I intend to read it. I have a real problem with authors who write stereotypical books on this era. I have studied this period for years, and I get very offended by the sensationalism that goes on with the characters who were living, breathing people who were trying to survive in a very cutthroat court.
Jane caressed George’s detached head? C’mon! Will it never end?
I wish authors would stop making Jane out to be evil incarnate. For me, these stories give Henry exactly what he was seeking all along. The ruination of the Boleyn name for all time.
I agree, Mindy, Jane’s story is dramatic enough. Why make up this crazy stuff? I am very sympathetic towards her and the rest of the Boleyns.

If I can get hold of it through the library, I possibly will read it for sh!ts and giggles..I won’t be buying it though.

“I die the Queen of England, but I would have rather died the wife of Thomas Culpeper.” I haven’t read Lies and Lust, Anyanka. I did check out Amazon’s blurb. The brief synopsis with this sentence in quotes was enough for me.

Yeah..I only bought it by accident. I really should start doung book reviews on those I currently possess for the forum.

It's always bunnies.

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