*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
B.R.A.G. MEDALLION HONOREE
Blurb: All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court’s realm of plot and intrigue….
England. 1535. Jane Seymour is 27 years old and increasingly desperate for the marriage that will provide her a real place in the world. She gets the perfect opportunity to shine when the court visits Wolf Hall, the Seymour ancestral manor. With new poise born from this event, it seems certain that her efficiency and diligence will shine through and finally attract a suitor.
Meanwhile, King Henry VIII is 45 and increasingly desperate for a son to secure his legacy. He left his first wife, a princess of Spain, changing his country’s religion in the process, to marry Anne Boleyn — but she too has failed to deliver the promised heir. As Henry begins to fear he is cursed, Jane Seymour’s honesty and innocence conjure redemption. Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious clerk who has built a career on strategically satisfying the King’s desires, sees in Jane the perfect vehicle to calm the political unrest that threatens the country: he engineers the plot that ends with Jane becoming the King’s third wife.
Jane believes herself virtuous and her actions justified, but early miscarriages shake her confidence and hopes. How can a woman who has done nothing wrong herself deal with the guilt of how she unseated her predecessor?
I knew very little about Jane Seymour prior to reading this book.
We covered Henry VIII at school (many years ago) but poor Jane was pretty much a comma between the dramas of divorces, beheadings and international and religious politics. Similarly, whilst I have seen and read other stories from this period in popular media and fiction, most tended to focus on the great love/war around Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn – high drama and lots of juicy gossip. It’s little wonder that Jane appears pale and subdued in such company!
Janet Wertman here brings Jane to life and shows her as a real and rounded personality, with skills and flaws, hopes and dreams, feelings and (above all) values. It is her very difference from the dramas and manipulations of the people of court that makes her stand out to the reader and to the King, and it is easy to see how this ‘plain Jane’ captivated him just by being true to herself and treating him with respect, but not awe.
This book follows Jane from her first introduction as one of Queen Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting, right the way through her life as (eventual) Queen. Jane is shown to be pious, kind and intelligent, but no saint, as she allows her power as a woman and her belief that she is ‘chosen by God’ to carry her into some manipulative and even unkind behaviours. But throughout she retains her core of moral goodness and an inability to lie to herself and to others, which keeps the reader empathising with her and admiring her fortitude and spirit.
Jane the Quene is well-written and compelling historical fiction, and I am excited to be bringing you a review of the sequel, A Path to Somerset, soon!
Jane was twenty-eight, and had never even had an admirer. She had sat through hundreds of interminable dinners and suppers and dances and amusements, watching while everyone around her flirted and gossiped. And ignored her. Still, she had to hope. It would happen soon. It had to happen soon. Please, God, what was wrong with her that it hadn’t happened already?
– Janet Wertman, Jane the Quene
Jane the Quene is available on Amazon right now!