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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford » User review

"Jane was becoming used to the benefits."

  • Jan 10, 2009
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Long seduced by the trappings of power as a satellite of Henry VIII's court, Jane Boleyn clings successfully to her privileged position until the ill-conceived cooperation with Henry's fifth queen, Catherine Howard; the unfaithful Catherine and the meddling Jane pay the ultimate price for their foolishness- the executioner's block. What a long way Jane Boleyn travels from her carefree earlier days as sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn, the enigmatic minx who captures Henry's heart and his kingdom. As the wife of Boleyn's brother George, Jane becomes accustomed to the pampered lifestyle of the English monarchy. Privy to the incessant intrigue of Anne's successful strategy in seducing Henry, Jane also witnesses the queen's failure to provide a male heir to the demanding monarch. Finished with Anne, Henry moves on without a backwards glance.

Her fortunes much reduced after George's death, Lady Rochford is at a crossroads: Should she choose the quiet path of widowhood at a country estate or return to court as a member of Jane Seymour's chamber? Certainly a new queen is a welcome distraction from an intractable future. The Widow Boleyn willingly attends Seymour, happiest at the center of the court, where she feels at home. Thus Jane's new career begins auspiciously, part of Seymour's royal entourage, then that of Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard, perhaps at last convinced her position is secure. Displaying a shocking lack of judgment, Jane allows herself to be ensnared in Catherine's romance with Thomas Culpepper, jeopardizing her own future for the drama of a queen's forbidden love. By the time Catherine Howard's serious lapses in fidelity are confessed, Jane is deeply trapped in the intrigue, a go-between for the lovers.

Considering the plight of such a woman in the 16th century, without a husband and only her wits to navigate the treachery that attends power, Jane's success is quite extraordinary, outliving the heyday of the Boleyn family's grand schemes, firmly entrenched in each new queen's inner circle and favored by Henry for her unquestioning service. She watches Jane Seymour die in childbirth, Anne of Cleves sent away to live as the king's nominal "sister" and Henry's inevitable fascination with Catherine Howard. But living so close to the flame- especially in Henry's erratic later years- carries its own risks, the king's fickle passions fueling Jane Boleyn's demise. Betrayed by the loyal Lady Rochford and his new queen, the raging king can do nothing but lash out in pain, a great man felled by an inconstant spouse and her lady-in-waiting.

Most deriving from speculation and no basis in fact, Fox rejects the idea that Jane helped engineer Anne and George's deaths by giving false statements. Rather, the author defines Rochford through her service and perseverance in Henry's court, affecting a lifestyle that provides a semblance of former successes. What is clear is Jane's lack of judgment at a critical time- unusual in one so concerned about position- Lady Rochford's demise married to that of Catherine Howard. In choosing the court over country retirement, the die is cast, Jane's fate eerily mirroring that of her infamous sister-in-law, Anne Boleyn. Luan Gaines.
Jane Boleyn

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About the reviewer
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #109
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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About this book



ISBN-10: 034551078X (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780345510785 (pbk.)
Author: Julia Fox
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date Published: March 24, 2009
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