Saturday, 18 October 2014

Book: The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson

Living at court from a young age, Jane Seymour wants nothing more than to marry her childhood friend, Will, and to live in the country to raise their family. But things never seem to go the way the way she planned, with obstacle after obstacle getting in the way of Jane and Will's marriage. Jane loved her mistress, Queen Catherine, and had to watch as King Henry tore the country apart to be with Anne Boleyn. Not knowing what to do, Jane carries on her life at court, serving the Queen whether that is Catherine or Anne. But from the start she has felt that she gets on with King Henry, and more than that, that he trusts her, and when he asks her to be his next wife she has to decide whether to follow he heart or to do the right thing for the King. 

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Well that was certainly interesting. In general the focus of the Tudor books that I've read is the Boleyns, though there have been several portrayals of them, particularly Anne. One thing that I've found is that no two are alike. So reading a book narrated by Jane Seymour was interesting, particularly because in the other Tudor fiction I've read she's actually been shown as quite weak and very innocent and actually kind of boring. This Jane wasn't. 

I did very much like the fact that Jane wasn't as innocent as she seems in other representations. In fact she was far from an innocent and actually partook in some scheming and back stabbing (most notably in relation to Catherine, and then Anne's, pregnancies. I thought this was an interesting take, especially because it was more believable. I also liked the fact that she had fallen in love, if she hadn't I don't think the story would have worked as well. 

I liked the way that Henry and Jane's relationship worked too. It wasn't the great love that it is normally shown to be, instead it was built on trust and friendship (and then Jane was revered because of Prince Edward). I think this was a good way to show it, particularly because it makes more sense and at the same time didn't make Jane completely self serving. It was definitely a refreshing change. 

I wasn't sure what to make of the Anne in The Favored Queen either. Most of the story actually took place while Anne was rising to power and then was Queen (rather than just Jane's days as Queen, which is good as she wasn't actually Queen all that long) which meant that Anne Boleyn played a large role in the book. There were times when Jane sympathised with her, and there were some times when Jane seemed to actually like her, and yet she was definitely perceived as cold hearted and a schemer. I thought it was interesting. But I did also think that Jane should have been more affected by her death than she was. 

And I really wasn't sure about the use of the Nun of Kent in the book. I think that her inclusion was good, though I think that the more paranormal elements of the book didn't work quite so well for me. But she was an important part of the life between Anne and Henry, as well as their marriage. 

I thought this book was interesting, there were parts which I liked a lot, and parts that I wasn't so sure about, but worth a read I think.