Review by Sarah J. Hodder
Jane Parker, Lady Rochford, Jane Boleyn, or even just the wife of George Boleyn, this new book by Charlie Fenton gives us a glimpse into the life of this intriguing woman who, as the title suggests, is often credited with an involvement in the downfall of two of England’s queens.
Jane Boleyn is exactly the type of subject that grabs my attention, a woman in history that is often in the shadows and so I was excited to read and review this book. Firstly, it is important to note that the book is part of the Chronos Crime Chronicles, so although it does give us a glimpse into Jane’s life, it is biased in Jane’s favour as the author presents a case for the defence, rather than an impartial overview considering what we know of Jane and her actions.
Jane Parker became the wife of George Boleyn before his sister Anne became Henry’s queen, and the usual view of their marriage is that it was not a happy one. Jane is also thought to have been an instrument in George’s downfall, as part of the plot to bring Anne herself down. The author disputes this fact and presents an alternative view of the relationship between both George and Jane and Anne and Jane. The harder argument to debate perhaps is Jane’s involvement in the life and downfall of Katherine Howard. The author does not, of course, argue against Jane’s involvement, as it was a provenfact that Jane assisted the queen in her liaisons with Culpepperwhich eventually led both women to the block. But she doespresent alternative reasons as to how and why Jane found herself involved in the queen’s affair.
The book is well–researched and the author clearly has a passion to represent Jane and tell her story. The book is quite short, but that is because there is not a wealth of information on Jane, and there are some really lovely snippets within its pages, such as maids of honour being permitted one servant and a spaniel!
If you are interested in the Tudor court and keen to read more about Jane Parker Boleyn, this is definitely a book to have on your bookshelf. There are certainly arguments within the book where perhaps an opposite case could be argued to present a different view of Jane than the one that the author is presenting, but then that is exactly what the author is in fact herself arguing – that Jane is often presented in a certain light and why not explore and look at her actions from a different viewpoint. The fact that the book is designed to give a positive view of Jane is no bad thing, as it enables you to take what you think you know, balance that against the well-researched case that the author presents and then in the end make up your own mind. Which is what, ultimately, we all dowhen we read a book anyway. ****