Jane Seymour. The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir
Six Tudor Queens series. Headline, 2018. ISBN 9781472227683
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Recommended. Jane Seymour is a wonderful read with Alison Weir convincingly bringing the Tudor Court of Henry VIII to real, exciting and tumultuous life both in the Court and in Jane's daily life.
As a very young girl, she leads a normal quiet country life but feels that she has a religious calling which she must follow. At that time, all decisions are made for her by her father and male members of the family, but having been able to convince her father, she then observes the difference in conditions between the postulates and nuns as opposed to those of the Abbess, and can no longer continue her calling there. Although she never loses her religious beliefs - which later cause her great mental pain and danger - it is her first experience of how the world of that time worked.
She becomes a maid-of-honour to Henry's first queen, Katherine of Aragon, to whom she is devoted. At that time, Henry is making plans to somehow remove Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn, in the hope that she will provide him with the much-needed son to keep the Tudors on the throne. The clarity with which Alison Weir describes the intrigues, love affairs, preferments, demotions, cruelty and deaths of those whom Henry can advance or destroy at will, makes electrifying - sometimes chilling - reading. Her use of words of that period - do you know what a 'kirtle' is? - is fascinating.
It would seem that Henry really did love Jane Seymour who, with the birth of the future King Edward, gave Henry his long-awaited son. She died 12 days later.
Throughout her life, Jane was haunted in many ways; compromising her religious calling, her loyalty to Katherine, her hatred of Anne Boleyn, the fear that she would never produce a male heir. In this book, we feel that we can see first-hand the turmoils of her life and of the times.
My only disappointment in the format of the book was that the Timeline, given at the back of the book, would have been so much more helpful and interesting at the beginning.