The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Boleyn Inheritance, by Philippa Gregory

This is the second book of Gregory’s that I’ve read, the first being The Other Boleyn Girl, which got a tepid review from me a few months ago. The Boleyn Inheritance was much better, and reaffirmed my decision to give the author another chance. An online search also indicates that The Boleyn Inheritance was more historically accurate than The Other Boleyn Girl.

In The Boleyn Inheritance, Gregory alternates among three narrators: Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII; Katherine Howard, wife number five; and Jane Rochford (aka Jane Boleyn), a lady in waiting to the other two and the woman whose testimony sent Anne Boleyn and her brother George–Jane’s husband–to their deaths. Anne of Cleves arrives from an unhappy home in Dusseldorf, determined to make this marriage work and never return to her despotic brother’s household again. Unfortunately, as is apparent from the beginning, she and Henry are poorly matched and the marriage is never consummated. Henry’s attentions quickly turn to cute little Kitty Howard, another young girl being used and manipulated by her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who stage-managed the rise of Anne Boleyn. Working for the Duke behind the scenes is Jane Boleyn, deluded about her role in events, convinced that she is a mere bystander when in fact she is a key player.

Gregory does fairly well at differentiating the three voices, and I thought she did a great job of presenting their points of view, especially Jane Boleyn’s. She managed to keep the tension high and the plot rolling briskly. Although she may have taken liberties with portraying Anne of Cleves as fearful of Henry’s whims–supposedly, they became great friends after their marriage ended–that portrayal was one of the most thought-provoking. Henry was often fatally vindictive toward his former wives, but Anne received an extremely generous settlement. I wondered if the fact that he never loved her was behind that. After all, if he didn’t care for her in the first place, then there was no need to concoct a betrayal scenario.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. I thought it was an excellent piece of historical fiction that gave great insight into the issues of the time. Animal lovers will find this book to be MOSTLY SAFE, although there is a bull-baiting incident described on pages 75 and 76. It’s possible to skip from the paragraph that starts “I feel a little breathless” on page 75, resuming with the paragraph beginning “I find I am trembling” on page 76. But a pivotal incident occurs in the latter paragraph, so it has to be read for the book to make sense. There are also a couple of references to bear-baiting but nothing shown. Kitty Howard has a kitten and a pair of lapdogs, and there are horses, none of which come to harm.


October 21, 2008 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews, history | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I also enjoyed the book. And I too am glad that, for the most part, no animals were harmed.

    Comment by Sam | December 4, 2008 | Reply

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