Born into an ambitious noble family, young Jane Seymour is sent to court as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s aging queen. She is devoted to her mistress and watches with empathy as the calculating Anne Boleyn contrives to supplant Catherine as Queen. Anne’s single-minded intrigues threaten all who stand in her way; she does not hesitate to arrange the murder of a woman who knows a secret so dark that, if revealed it would make it impossible for the king to marry Anne.
Once Anne becomes queen, no one at court is safe, and Jane herself becomes a victim of Anne’s venomous rage when she suspects Jane has become the object of the king’s lust. But Henry, fearing that Anne’s inability to give him a son is a sign of divine wrath, asks Jane to become his next queen. Deeply reluctant to embark on such a dangerous course, Jane must choose between her heart and her loyalty to the queen. (from the cover flap)
Book Details Title: The Favored Queen, Author: Carolly Erickson, Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, ISBN: 978-0-312-59690-3, Format I read: Hardcover, $25.99, Source: My personal collection, Rating: 4 Crowns
Given the title, The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII’s Third Wife, I was expecting this to be about Jane Seymour’s life. Although rather than being an account of her life, it is Jane’s account of the happenings around her starting towards the end of Katherine of Aragon’s reign and ending with Jane’s death.
Jane is present for every argument, every birth, and every important diplomatic visit all the while falling in love twice (neither time with Henry). She gives in-depth accounts of the end of Katherine’s reign and Anne’s yet there is little about her time as queen. To my surprise, most of Jane story was wrapped up in the two men that she loved, which on occasion felt forced, and the hate she held for her father. What also surprised me was the fact that Henry took Jane into his confidence and fully trusted her.
While the novel is engaging and pulled me in, I had to ignore my knowledge of Tudor history as the author tells readers that this is a ‘reimaging of the past’ and while some details are historical accurate, most have been pulled from the author’s imagination.
Overall, I found that I could not put this book down. I was thoroughly engaged in the story that unfolded, which surprised me considering that I am a Tudor history buff. While most of the events that occur in The Favored Queen are purely fictional, some have their roots in Tudor myths giving the book an interesting turn. What bothered me the most was the fact that Jane’s brother, Thomas, was absent throughout while Edward was front and center almost as much as Jane was. Also, I was a bit irked that she portrayed Henry as having gold hair when it has been proven that he had red/auburn hair.
Read For—The flowing descriptive story that takes you inside the intrigue Tudor court.
Overlook—The historical inaccuracy. In a note to the reader, the author does caution that reader that ‘The Favored Queen is a historical entertainment, in which the authentic past and imaginative invention intertwine. Fictional events and circumstances, fictional characters and whimsical alterations of events and personalities are blended. Fresh interpretations of historical figures and their circumstances are offered, and traditional ones laid aside.’
If you are eager to feed your Tudor-addiction with a healthy dose of Tudor fiction, you should give this book a go.
If topsy-turvy reimagings of history drives you up the wall, perhaps you should check this out from your local library before purchasing it.