Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review: THE BOLEYN WIFE by Brandy Purdy

Due to hit bookstores January 26th 2010. I was lucky to receive an advanced readers copy from the lovely Brandy Purdy. When I jumped on board to get an advanced readers copy I had no idea the Boleyn wife was the infamous Jane Rochford herself. I had assumed it was possibly Mary Boleyn, not her sister in law Jane. As many of you readers know the Boleyn story and what role Jane played in their fall from grace. I had always been curious about Jane and what was the logic behind the driving force in betraying her husband and sister in law. I am a firm believer that the incest between the siblings did not really occur.

I enjoyed Jane's perspective for the insight alone. At times I felt the novel was crude and extremely sexual. A bit too graphic for my taste. I accepted this for one reason only. That reason being that Jane Rochford was a vile creature. At least in my mind. I expected her to to be vile, loathsome, and a shrew. I never expected her logic to make sense to a point.

Jane's husband never loved her and she never accepted it. Instead she blamed Anne for the lack of love from her husband. No real incest ever existed between them, yes they were close and others interpreted it as too close to be normal. She hated the fact that George loved his sister more than his own wife. Painfully jealous of the "click" of Anne and her evergreen gallants Jane sought to destroy them. Revenge has a bitter sweet taste Jane would soon come to find out.

Through out the novel consistently Jane was an evil woman. Murderous thoughts and a raging temper all amounted to a ticking time bomb. The break down came full force when George was executed. Jane possessed an abusive love for George. The type where if I can not have you no one can. Yet she still believed once Anne was gone George would love her. Self delusion was her best friend. The problem with that was he never loved her and had turned his back on her completely after she purposely told Anne "the king is dead" causing her to miscarry king Henry's unborn prince he so badly wanted. After George was executed Jane lost it completely. The guards had to wrestle her away from cradling and kissing her husbands dismembered head.

Catherine Howard was a piece of work in this read. The only words I can use to describe her is nymphomaniac, bisexual, delusional, broken woman, who was doomed from the beginning. Since Jane was her closest confidant she open up about her life at the duchesses house. Being abused as a young child gave Catherine a child like mentality leaving her unable to comprehend. I do not think she grasped the reality of the situation she had put her self in until it was too late. She was the aggressor in all her sexual follies, even with Thomas Culpepper. Jane wanted to mother her but Catherine did what she wanted with no regard to consequences. I knew eventually it would all come crashing down once Henry found out. Jane tried to help her but you can not help someone who does not want to be helped.

The best part was Jane's final breakdown that led to the madness. What was it that finally broke her mind? Guilt or the delusions of ghosts plagued her mind sending her into chaos, the constant laughing of the dead never stopped. The guilt was too much for one person's mind and she already had an extreme personality disorder and a murderous temper. The three combined sent her into a dark and sinister downward spiral that was her destiny. How could you go up if there is no light above? It is like being in a dark hole, not knowing which way is up or down, suspended in cold darkness all alone.

3 Muses, I enjoyed this read but it did have it's pros and cons. The cons were some of the things that happened were more "historical entertainment" and not at all plausible or likely to have occurred. Normally I am not a big one for exact historical accuracy because if I wanted that I would read non fiction not fiction. The combination of historical entertainment and the graphic sexual encounters turned me off. The pros did out weigh the con's in the end and Purdy did give an interesting spin on Jane's prospective. One thing she did deal with that no other author has ever done was give an explanation of what happen to Anne Boleyn's notorious B necklace. I did thoroughly enjoy Jane loosing her mind in a eerie kind of way.

I would recommend this to any historical fiction lover who does not mind a highly charged sexual novel. This is defiantly not a book I could recommend to my mom but every once in awhile I enjoy a dirty book. Thank you Brandy I did enjoy the read.


  1. Been wanting to read this one! Great review!

  2. Thanks for the warning about the sex, I appreciate hearing that. I've read the Amazon reviews for the original edition of the book (Vengeance is Mine I think it was called?) and wasn't too sure I wanted to venture there.

  3. I cant wait for this book to be released. I have always wanted to know about Jane's logic behind what she did. I tried to another book on her but could not finsh it this one sounds pretty good.

  4. I'm undecided as to if I want to read this or not. I had put it on my list awhile ago to keep track of it but have never been too sure. Good review tho!

  5. I'm also undecided, but great review!

  6. I also tried another read on Jane and could not finish it. It is a hard perspective to tackle.

    It was a racy read that at times it made me blush.

  7. Have you read Julia Fox's biography of Jane? She tries to make Jane more sympathetic but doesn't really succeed. I'm very interested in reading this book now after this review.

  8. I tried to give it a go and it just did not work for me. It was too much like a professors notes instead of a book. I have heard that Fox tries to bring in the point that she was a victim of bad press.

    Honestly I do not know if anything will ever sway me from the way I feel about her today. I have made her a villain in my thoughts.

    I am still really undecided about this book because the sex at one point was so over the top that I still can not accept. It is like my mind refuses to process it.

    Hint: Catherine Howard, Anna of Cleves, jar of honey?


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