Before I begin my review, I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of Weir’s series on the six Tudor queens. There are quite a few Weir haters out there but you cannot deny this woman can write one hell of a novel – not to mention she’s popping one of these out every year. It’s quite amazing.
Description of Book from Amazon:
Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s most cherished bride and mother of his only legitimate male heir.
Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a haunting incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.
But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures Anne as his new queen—forever altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son, or will she be cast aside like the women who came before her?
Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Alison Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renowned court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it.
I have met many amazing authors over the past few years and have read plenty of books to draw comparisons. Even my husband knows when a book is good because I am constantly raving about how great it is and neglect everything in our life to continue reading. That is how I feel about this book – to be honest, it’s how I felt about the first two books in the series as well.
The reason I love Weir’s novels so much is because she makes the story come to life for the reader. With every page I’m transported back in time to whatever the topic may be. Her writing seems effortless, something I envy.
Many have asked (prior to reading this novel), “Why is it called ‘The Haunted Queen’?” Well, the answer is simple but may not be obvious at first: Jane Seymour, as the third wife of Henry VIII, married him less than two weeks after the execution of his second wife Anne Boleyn. Jane, in the novel, is haunted by the memory of Anne and her involvement in the late queen’s downfall. Jane was also very concerned about hurting dowager princess of Wales, Katherine of Aragon while she still lived and Henry was courting her. She felt as though she had betrayed a great friend whom she had been very loyal to while in her service and after she was removed to serve Anne Boleyn. But, let’s be clear, she is mostly haunted by Anne Boleyn. In the story, Jane is visited at night in her bedchamber by a shadow figure – she could not make out who it was but became convinced it was Anne Boleyn seeking revenge on those who had wronged her…Jane saw herself as instrumental in Anne’s downfall. Every time the shadow visited something awful would happen.
This story is a real page-turner even though we already know how it is going to end. I always find it interesting to see an authors creative take on history. In my opinion, Weir does not disappoint. Her description of the Seymour family at the beginning of the book really brought them to life. You get a feel for each member and what they brought to the table, how the death of a loved one affected the entire family and how ambition brought them near the crown. Jane is often seen as the boring queen, but in this story you get to see the “real” Jane: deeply religious, extremely loyal, kind to all and haunted by her past discretions. There may even be some surprise developments.
If I am to find anything negative to say about this novel it would be the fact that Weir found the need to slip in the extra nail again…I’m not sure why it bothers me so much but it was one of the reasons I set aside the second novel “A King’s Obsession” for weeks before going back to it. The other thing that I noticed while reading this book was that I felt (at times) that I was reading a scene straight out of “The Tudors”. It was quite strange to be honest – it made it easy to read and imagine the scene because it was something I was familiar with but I wonder if it influenced this novel at all or if it was straight coincidence. Even with that being said I absolutely LOVED this book and I hate that I have to wait another year to read the next one on Anne of Cleves. The idea of being halfway through his six wives and this series makes me wish he had married ten times, only so this series won’t end for another seven years. But that’s me being selfish.
Lastly, there was one part of the story that I found intriguing – we all recognize Jane from her Holbein portrait and that is who we see her as…in this story we come to understand more about it and why she looks the way she does in the portrait.
If you are a fan of the Tudor dynasty, or even if you are a fan of Alison Weir, I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed!