No, I am not becoming a Philippa Gregory groupie. I had purchased The Boleyn Inheritance to read on vacation. Thanks to an hour and a half flight delay, I finished it ahead of schedule and needed another airplane book. Juan Santamaria Airport (San Jose, Costa Rica) had limited options. And paperbacks that normally cost $12-$14 were selling for $22-$24. So I went with a book that wouldn’t be much of a gamble, and was in the less expensive range. Hence, The Other Queen.
Both works of historical fiction follow the same format: a story unfolding from the viewpoint of three characters at the same time. The chapters are short which, in my opinion, makes a great vacation book. It does seem a bit disjointed at times, though. And also tiresome given that the two books combined total over 1000 pages.
The Boleyn Inheritance tells the story of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, the fourth and fifth wives of Henry VIII. Also involved in their tale is Jane Rochford, the widow of Anne Boleyn’s brother George. Jane serves as lady in waiting and confidante to both queens.
The Other Queen begins 25 years after the end of The Boleyn Inheritance. Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne of England for ten years. She has imprisoned her rival for the throne of England, Mary Queen of Scots. This story is told by Mary, as well as her captors, George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick.
As with her other books, Philippa Gregory has done a tremendous amount of historical research. She paints a vivid picture of life among the nobility in sixteenth-century England. After reading a number of these books, I do understand English history a bit more. At least now I know the difference between the Tudors and the Stuarts and why they were rivals for the throne.
I do recommend both of these books, but not one right after the other. And now I have to read the two books that cover the time span in between. My “must read” list keeps getting longer. I have three books on my nightstand, and another on reserve at the library. Well-I’d better get to it!
The Boleyn Inheritance
Published in hardcover-Touchstone-2006
The Other Queen
Published in hardcover-Touchstone-2008