Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Favored Queen

The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson was good, I finished it in just a few hours. This book is about King Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour. I found it interesting because I don't think I've read a book before that was just from her point of view. Of course it is historical fiction, but it showed a new side to her I found interesting. The way the author chose to portray her is pretty close to what I had pictured her. Some have said she was also ruthless and ambitious, but I side with the author's point of view. Jane was not particularly pretty, and she kept getting older and older with no match coming her way. She served at court to Queen Katherine, and was around to see her slow downfall to be replaced by ruthless Anne Boleyn.

Jane was sweet and kind, and kept her thoughts to herself. She did what was asked, and rebelled quietly in other ways. She also had an ambitious brother Ned who served at court in various capacities as well. Her father was lecherous and several times because of his liaisons, she was unable to marry into that particular family. Since she was so sweet and obedient, she was probably easily forgotten and so a marriage match was never made for her. As the years went by and she got older, she did take a lover at court. I can't imagine anyone staying innocent at court for too long, especially since she was almost 30 by then. The book showed her sympathy for Queen Katherine as she became the princess dowager, shunned from court and rudely and poorly housed, separate from her daughter Mary. She saw the supporters at court change from Katherine to Anne, and saw how fickle friends could be. She witnessed the downfall of Thomas Wolsey and the rise of Cromwell.

As Anne became Queen and produced a daughter and not the longed for male, her star was soon on the downfall as well. Jane lived through the sweating sickness and saw much change around her. King Henry became larger and more angry and prone to mood swings. They had to have been familiar with each other as she had served at court for many years by then. As Anne had two stillbirth children, one that was deformed, Jane knew that King was fishing for a new wife. Soon the attentions of the King were upon her, and she was nervous about her future. I imagine with her brother's ambitious prodding, along with her unmarried state and wanting children of her own, that she eventually became Queen. I don't believe she planned it, I think it just happened. The King was looking for a fertile lady with a good reputation, and probably someone as far from Anne as possible. Where Anne was dark, Jane was light; where Anne was quarrelsome Jane was meek and humble.

The King housed Jane away from court in a manor as Anne's trial and eventually her beheading took place. He wanted her away from it all, to keep the taint from their soon to be marriage. They were married just days later, and soon it was all about whether she was pregnant or not. Several months later she was finally pregnant, and the King was very pleased. Shortly after the long and arduous labor, Jane started to get weaker and weaker. Some say she was neglected and not well taken care of. Since she had produced the King a son, mayhap people soon forgot about her in their joy for an heir to the throne. She passed away alone it was said, without the King because he so feared sickness. While I have always viewed Jane as one of the sadder queens, because of her short life, some movies have portrayed her as the great love of Henry's life. I'm sure in his later years he venerated her because she had given him the one male heir. I believe Henry also had him buried next to her out of all his six wives. As he was a fickle and changeable man, I don't believe they truly had a happy and loving marriage. I think this book was interesting to see into Jane's world, albeit fictional in ways. I always love to get to know more people in the Tudor period from all angles.


  1. you write so well! I love your review. Next time I need a new book for work or just to read. I'll be coming here! I loved that one book. and this book sounds like I'd love it too!

  2. Yes I liked this book it was good. Thanks!