Book Review: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen…

About the Book:

The third stunning novel in the Six Tudor Queens series by foremost and beloved historian Alison Weir.

THE WOMAN HAUNTED BY THE FATE OF HER PREDECESSOR.

Eleven days after the death of Anne Boleyn, Jane is dressing for her wedding to the King.
She has witnessed at first hand how courtly play can quickly turn to danger and knows she must bear a son . . . or face ruin.
This new Queen must therefore step out from the shadows cast by Katherine and Anne. In doing so, can she expose a gentler side to the brutal King?

JANE SEYMOUR
THE THIRD OF HENRY’S QUEENS
HER STORY

Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir draws on new research for her captivating novel, which paints a compelling portrait of Jane and casts fresh light on both traditional and modern perceptions of her. Jane was driven by the strength of her faith and a belief that she might do some good in a wicked world.

History tells us how she died.

This spellbinding novel explores the life she lived.


My Thoughts:

I am coming in to this series on the third book but it’s the sort of series where this doesn’t matter. The books are linked yet also stories within their own right and really, the history of Henry VIII and his six wives is not exactly little known! Most of my knowledge – okay, all – of the reign of Henry VIII comes from watching the television series, The Tudors. In my defence, it is a rather comprehensive television series, and after reading this novel, it strikes me as having been well grounded in research. Jane Seymour was my favourite wife – how weird is saying that? – and I still feel this way after reading this novel, although, Weir has possibly dulled her polish somewhat in making her less angelic. I had not picked up through the television show that she was so instrumental in the fall of Anne Boleyn. I am very impressed with the depth and scope of this novel; it really has so much analysis of history woven through it. I admire how Weir has examined Jane’s life and the little that is known about her but still been able to extend this research and make plausible assumptions about her life. The author notes at the back of this novel show just how much of the story is based on fact and how much was fiction; the notes themselves were fascinating reading.

“She waited until they had gone, trying to collect her thoughts, and then suddenly she saw her duty clearly. Bryan’s words had brought it home to her. He was right. Anne must be removed, if only for Henry’s peace of mind. She was the source of all the ills that had befallen the kingdom, the rightful Queen and the Princess. Because of her, good men had died barbarously, innocent blood had been shed and good order overturned. The English Church was in disarray and heresy was flourishing. Was it presumptuous to wonder if God had appointed her, Jane, to put an end to these ills? He had chosen a simple maiden as the mother of His Son; why should He not choose another, pure in heart, to save England and its King from damnation? It was a daunting prospect, but the King loved her. She had stout friends, and might through Chapuy’s influence win the support of the Emperor. By her means, true religion might be re-established, and the rights of the Princess Mary recognised. And supplanting a mistress who had no right to be queen was no sin.”

I particularly enjoyed reading all about Jane’s earlier life but once she became involved with Henry, I began to like her less. I tired of her swinging like a pendulum between guilt over her part in Anne’s execution to martyring herself as the more spiritually wholesome Queen. This train of thought became repetitive and in a book as long as this one, you don’t need or want much repetition. She was also rather dramatic about Henry. A mere disagreement had her spiralling into despair, convinced he no longer loved her. Although, within the context of Henry and his track record with wives, maybe she had grounds for this reaction! These things aside, I thought The Haunted Queen was a very good read, meticulous in its account of the history of this era. The characterisation was vivid and the story itself, despite the large cast of characters and extensive happenings, was easy to navigate. I felt the love between Henry and Jane and I can see why it is believed she was his best-loved wife. For Henry, she was the only one he lost through fate rather than by his own hand. Alison Weir is an accomplished writer whose extensive experience in writing history is evident in her polished prose. I fully intend to continue with this series and will no doubt backtrack to read the first two books as well. Highly recommended for fans of history, particularly that of England’s Kings and Queens.

☕☕☕☕


About the Author:

Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth-bestselling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published eighteen history books, including her most recent non-fiction book, Queens of the Conquest, the first in her England’s Medieval Queens quartet. Alison has also published several historical novels, including Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth.

Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets is Alison Weir’s ninth published novel and the fourth in the Six Tudor Queens series about the wives of Henry VIII, which was launched in 2016 to great critical acclaim. The first three books in the series – Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession and Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen were all Sunday Times bestsellers.
Alison is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary life patron of Historic Royal Palaces.


Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen
Published by Hachette Australia (Headline Review)
Released May 2018

19 thoughts on “Book Review: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

  1. I think it’s a very hard job to come up with something new with history as well known as this.
    OTOH, I have a little set of china thimbles, Henry and his six wives, and now and again at dinner parties I get them out and we play to see who can put them in the right order!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, they sound so cute and a lot of fun, and now I want a set too!
      I watched a documentary on the weekend about his father, Henry VII. It was very interesting, I knew a bit about his earlier years as King but this went right through until his death. A very different king to his son! And only one wife. 🙂 But what I liked the most about this documentary was seeing the archives where court and parliament documents are kept, watching the historian roll them out and show where certain things were written. And that crypt in Westminster Abbey, where Henry and Elizabeth lie side by side – so stunning. I would love to see that.

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  2. I’ve read a couple of her history books and can attest to her excellent research and the readability of her nonfiction. I’ve only read one of her novels and it was enjoyable too, if a little repetitive, as you say, Theresa. The great thing you can be confident about with her novels is their historical truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Her works are listed at the front of the book and she has written so many non-fictions titles. Quite a few of them caught my eye, so I’m glad to hear that they are readable. I hate to get bogged down in non-fiction.
      You are right though, about being confident about historical truth in her novels. Absolutely!

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  3. Interesting review, thank you. I’m not sure that a historian can be a good novelist… but I should read this one to find out. I love, love, love Hilary Mantel’s two books with Thomas Cromwell as central character, and I also love the BBC TV series based on them… I’ve read the books at least three times, and watched the series as many. In Wolf Hall, Jane has a quiet, modest demeanour which hides a strong will, enabling her to resist being crushed by the powerful men around her. Thomas sees her beauty and her promise and actively plots to bring her and the King together. We don’t see her as Queen; that comes in the third book, which everyone who is a follower of Mantel has been anxiously awaiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why do you think that, about historians? I’m curious, it’s not something I’ve given much thought to.
      I have the Mantel books and the TV series of Wolf Hall set aside, for the longest time! I really should get into them.
      You might like this series, given your interest in the era.

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      • I think because the fictional drive would take second place to the historical one. Of course, as we’ve seen with recent novels like Kate Grenville’s, it can work both ways, and there’s a whole debate around that. I’m not a lover of The Secret River, so I’s sitting on the fence. Hilary Mantel approached her stories as a novelist, but I believe did extensive research and has taken a different view of Cromwell from the received one. How accurate it is I’ve no idea, but I find him wholly convincing and very attractive, despite his involvement in Henry’s murderous acts. Yes, I will read at least this one of Alison Weir’s with interest, thank you! As for Cromwell, Mark Rylance’s portrayal of him in the series Wolf Hall is brilliant. As is Claire Foy’s of Anne Boleyn, and Damian Lewis as Henry.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I can see that happening, if you were an actual historian. It would be difficult to balance the research urges with the creativity.
        I’ll really have to watch Wolf Hall. I like Claire Foy, she was very good in The Crown.

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