Sunday, 31 July 2016

Book Review - Jane the Quene by Janet Wertman

Author Janet Wertman gives readers an inside look at Henry VIII's court from the perspective of young and innocent Jane Seymour as she falls in love with the handsome and flirtatious King Henry while he is still married to the queen who will soon be dubbed a witch, Anne Boleyn. Wertman brings what I have always thought of as the 'dull and simple' queen to beautiful light, breathing personality, honour and duty to Jane's background and time in court.

Wertman is an ace with her descriptions of the deceit and court politics, taking us away from Jane's point of view when necessary, into Cromwell's where we get a firm grasp of behind-the-scenes plotting. I much preferred Jane's point of view where there are scenes where I had actual gooseflesh when reading, especially during the downfall of Boleyn and near Jane's own end. Jane's courtship with Henry was highly engaging and brought forth a gentler Henry without disregarding his dangerous side and Jane sees it all but humbly accepts what she is duty bound to be: the bearer of Henry's only legitimate male heir. I was kept intrigued, despite being already very familiar with the events, and found the narrative difficult to fault. There are a few modern phrases that make an appearance, but Wertman blended them into the text in such a way that they are not only forgiveable, but help the modern reader grasp the era feel without being limited to the archaic (but beautiful) and difficult language of the Tudor court (for anyone wanting to grasp a sample, please look up some of Anne Boleyn's letters to Henry, both during her courtship and her 'supposed' last letter to Henry during her time in the Tower).

This book is ideal for newcomers to the subject as Wertman takes the reader gently by the hand and helps them navigate through the intrigue, court politics, and Tudor mindset with ease, but as a lover of all things Tudor, I found myself still intrigued with this new Jane, who I feel Wertman brought to life in a way that makes me understand her as a woman and a queen of the era. A well researched and well presented read. If you have a love of history, read this book. If you enjoy the Tudor era, read this book. If you thought only Anne Boleyn was worth reading about, you'll know better after... well, you know. Just be warned – there are more books to follow, this is only the first of Wertman's literary gems.