Friday, May 23, 2008
The year is 1539. Henry VIII must take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves. Although she is fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she can sense a trap closing around her.
Katherine Howard, meanwhile, is to flirt her way to the throne. But her kinswoman Jane Boleyn is haunted by the past and the Boleyn inheritance of suspicion, betrayal, and death. In this time of upheaval and uncertainty, these three young women must try to survive the most volatile court in Europe.
I've read a couple of Gregory's books, including The Other Boleyn Girl and The Constant Princess and loved them. I had high hopes for this book too.
I really was disappointed and was not all that crazy about this book. Yes, I enjoyed reading about the Tudor court, but compared to the other two books, this was a real let down. Partly, I think, is because Henry is just so fat and ugly and old now. He's simply disgusting with his piggy eyes, flabby skin, he weighs a ton and has this smelly pus-filled festering wound on his leg that won't heal. Yucck! Where is Prince Harry from The Constant Princess and dashing Henry from The Other Boleyn Girl? He is nowhere to be found. Instead, he's become a madman and a tyrant on the throne, chopping off heads left and right - enough already!
In addition to that, I just could not get into any of the main characters. Anne of Cleves came across as just so vapid and boring in the beginning when we first meet her and when she comes to England as Henry's bride to be. Then Katherine Howard was just too stupid to live! Yes, she's only 14, but Gregory wrote Katherine out to be so incredibly stupid it became exasperating to read! All she cared about what was she got as gifts and her clothes and gowns - it got a little old. Plus, I just found the thought of her straddling big old gross (impotent) Henry in bed when she is just 15 and he is 50 so repulsive - yecch! As far as the rest of it, I couldn't care less what happened to any of them, and no sympathy for Jane Boleyn whatsoever,(George Boleyn's widow who testified against him and Anne Boleyn and sent them to the block). Jane got what she deserved in the end.
Another thing I didn't like about the book was the way it had each of the three women have their own first-person short little chapters. It made it choppy. Just as I felt like I was settling into one of these women and getting into her viewpoint, it switched to another one, and then I had to get used to that one again! Very annoying! Reminded me of an epistolary novel, and I've never been really fond of them. I don't feel like you can ever sink your teeth into them and get to know the characters. The descriptions are usually brief and it's just not my style. Granted the very end at the block was good - but all the weeping and begging and sobbing leading up to it - okay already!
This is a short review, simply because I was so disappointed, I just don't want to really go on and on with it. Just not my cup of tea.