Monday, February 28, 2011

The Boleyn Wife

The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy was very interesting. I liked her book because she was really good at conveying the thoughts of her character. This book is about Jane Boleyn--she was the wife of George Boleyn, Queen Anne's brother. If you read my previous post about The Other Boleyn Girl, you will remember that George was beheaded. He was accused of having incest with his sister Anne. I have been intrigued by Lady Rochford, known as Jane Boleyn. Her character is surprisingly sad; she lives most of her marriage in the shadows ignored. But what she is known for the for her testimony. She told Lord Cromwell that George, her husband, committed incest with his sister Anne. That testimony really solidified his death sentence, and Anne's. This book describes how she came to betray her own husband.....

Jane grew up close to Hever, where Anne, George and Mary grew up. Her father adored her and with her insistence, he worked on her betrothal to George. When she first met him, she fell deeply in love. He was tall with dark hair and a nicely trimmed beard. He was outgoing, funny, witty and very smart. Jane would often spend time with the family so she could get to know her future husband. She would follow George and Anne around. George was polite to Jane, but constantly left her side to be with his sister Anne. Theirs seemed to be a very close relationship. Jane was deeply in love with George so she dismissed it.

Throughout the years of growing up, Jane almost became obsessed with George. Her father kept telling her that he didn't think he would make her happy; he could see that George did not love Jane back. Despite her father's concerns, Jane wanted to marry him. She believed he would be everything she desired and would love her back. They were married and lived at Court. Jane was soon to discover that George's affections fell far short of her expectations. He stayed out late at night, partied with his friends and sister Anne, and rarely visited her bedchambers. Jane started to complain and rail at him, so that drove him away even more.

George was constantly at Anne's side as she worked to become Queen; he was her confidante and errand boy. George and his friends surrounded Anne day and night-they were her admirers and friends. Jane's jealousy and hatred towards these men and Anne grew over time. She would watch them all together, having fun and ignoring her. She would try to join in, but George would push her away or his friends would call her names. Jane started to watch George and Anne closely. He seemed to be absolutely infatuated with her. He watched her every move as if in love. She became disturbed and complained to George that he loved his sister more than his wife.

Jane soon discovered that George was most likely gay-he visited his friends at night. Jane for some reason was still in love with George. Her jealousy started to overwhelm her senses, and she desired to become pregnant. She tried to get George to spend time with her, but he wouldn't. He was constantly at Anne's side, at her beck and call. She would spy on them and try to figure out what was going on. The way they acted together and moved, it was as if nature had made a mistake in making them siblings. They were soul mates, destined to be together. Jane's big mistake in driving George away more, was by complaining constantly at him. She gained the reputation of being a shrew wife, and those at court didn't much care for her.

Eventually Lord Cromwell befriended her and was able to get her to talk. Jane needed someone to talk to, and she unburdened herself. She told him how George and Anne were always together, and she thought it incestuous. Cromwell at this time was probably already in the making of Anne's downfall, and with this tidbit of information he was later able to accuse them both of incest. Jane was too far gone now in her jealous and anger to realize what she had done. She pleaded with Lord Cromwell to erase it from court records, but he wouldn't.

When George was in court being accused of incest with the Queen his sister, he was given a chance to live. But instead of taking it, he loudly declared, "The Queen has told me the King is impotent!" And he started laughing. With that he had just signed his own death sentence. He had decided in that moment that he would rather die and join his sister, than live without her. Jane went to her own husband's beheading, and was later found cradling his head and crying. People called her mad, and accused her of sending her own husband to the grave. What Jane never regretted though was the death of Queen Anne. She was so full of hate towards her for stealing her husband's affections that she was glad to see her go.

Jane's life doesn't end in this book, but in a different one. I will tell you that she meets a similar fate of her sister-in law and husband; she will be beheaded herself many years later.

I recommend this book if you are interested in learning about Jane Boleyn. Hers is such a sad life, because she has this huge crush on George. I can understand why she gets jealous, but what is sadder is that her complaining just drives him away more. He just wasn't meant to be her one true love-she loved him more than he loved her. He was also a sodomite, so he didn't deserve Jane. I believe she was truly in love with him and let her passion for him override her senses. I believe she did become crazy and believed in her own mind that they were incestuous together. I don't think she meant for George to die, but she definitely wanted Queen Anne to. This author was good because she really showed how Jane thought, how she was the outsider of this group. All these handsome gentlemen, and Anne, were the center of the court. They were the "popular" group and had much fun. And on the outside was always Jane. She will always be known as the one who testified against her own husband and sent him to his death.


  1. I'd almost forgotten how good you are at writing! I love just reading these well written reviews!