Two of my favorite books of 2017 were the first and second books in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series (check out my reviews of Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession). Obviously, I had to get my hands on the newest installment, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen as soon as possible. I was particularly excited about this one because I was fairly familiar Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn going into their respective novels, but knew very little about Jane (or her successors). And I am so glad I was able to learn more about her through this book!
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s most cherished bride and mother of his only male heir.
Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and, as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—who is also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a painful incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.
But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures his new queen—altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son or will she meet a fate similar to the women who came before her?
Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renown court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it.
I think it’s safe to say this is one of my favorite literary series. The entire thing is absolutely fantastic, and Jane Seymour was no exception. If anything, it made me love this story even more. I was impressed with Katherine of Aragon. It was a solid historical novel. And then came Anne Boleyn, and Weir instantly made my sympathetic to the woman who is essentially the villain of Katherine’s story. Jane provides another interesting perspective in that she served and loved Katherine and then served and hated Anne and feels very conflicted about falling in love with and marrying the man who callously discarded the first and beheaded the other. I am in awe of how well Weir writes from each queen’s perspective. I found myself identifying with each of them in different ways. Weir really gets into the mind of these women, and this book just made that feat seem even more impressive.
While I still have a bit of a soft spot for Anne Boleyn (she was always my favorite), I did enjoy Jane’s story quite a bit. She maybe wasn’t as exciting a character as Anne, but she did remind me a bit of Katherine, which I liked. One noticeable difference in this book is that Henry VIII never really treats her badly. He truly loved Jane until the end – she is the only one of his wives he didn’t behead, divorce, or widow. It was nice to see that side of him for once.
This is based on a true story, but even if you’re familiar with Jane Seymour and/or the Tudors, I definitely think you would enjoy this. It is wonderfully written, entertaining, and just a truly brilliant example of reality-based historical fiction. This will be making my 2018 favorites list, for sure.
★★★★★ – I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down, and finished the entire thing about a day and a half. I don’t have a favorite in this series – I love them all – but Jane Seymour is definitely on par with the first and second books. I cannot wait for the rest of the series, especially since I know very little about Henry VIII’s last three wives. I can’t recommend this highly enough. If you enjoy historical fiction or Tudor history, you need to pick this series up.
Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen will be available in bookstores starting May 15. You can preorder it on Amazon now!
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and select Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen as one of your two free books.
This book was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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