Author : Alison Weir
Title : Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen
Series : Six Tudor Queens
Pages : 502
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : May 3, 2018
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?
The third book in the Six Tudor Queens series obviously features Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour. I must admit I knew very little about her going in. Apart from the facts, of course. Third wife, the only one to give Henry a male heir and the fact that she was apparently so beloved by Henry that he decided to be buried alongside her.
I’m not entirely sure I now know much more about her as far as historical facts are concerned, to be honest, but I do thoroughly enjoy the way she’s portrayed in this novel. It seems, unlike the previous wives, Jane left little or nothing of note. No journals or letters, for instance, that thorough research would normally be based on. This means there were quite a few gaps that Alison Weir needed to fill but true to form, she manages to do that in an entirely plausible and credible way.
Considering Jane Seymour’s rather short life, this is one long book though never boring. We are offered a glimpse into Jane’s early life, growing up in a big and happy family, surrounded by one or two ambitious brothers who themselves will play a huge part in history. In those early days however, Jane is determined to become a nun. How very different things would have been if that had come to pass.
As it is, she finds her way to court, as a maid-in-waiting to the first (and true 😄) Queen Katherine when Henry’s pursuit of Anne Boleyn has already started. The Great Matter, as it’s known, would always play a massive part in the first three books in this series as events overlap, but Jane is very much on the fringes of it all. However, her fierce loyalty to Queen Katherine and her faith will shape the future.
Was Jane naive? Did she really fall in love or was she merely as ambitious as her brothers? Who knows? Alison Weir paints an interesting picture of a devout and intelligent young lady who carefully weights up her options, who believes she might possibly be able to make a difference and restore what Anne Boleyn tore apart.
Interestingly, we also see a rather different side to Henry VIII. Not quite the self-centred, unforgiving, bullying “man-child” who throws temper tantrums when things don’t go his way. Not towards Jane anyway. I do believe he genuinely loved Jane Seymour but I can’t help thinking what would have happened if she hadn’t borne him a son.
It’s quite obvious to me that my fascination with the Tudor era and the six wives of Henry VIII will never go away. In my most humble opinion, nobody brings this era to life as magnificently as Alison Weir does. The meticulous research, the absolutely wonderful eye for detail, it all jumps from the pages and never fails to completely absorb me.
The Six Tudor Queens is an exquisite series and this third book is a truly wonderful addition. I can’t wait for the next one, which is obviously about Ann of Cleves, if you know your history. I’m quite happy to leave the Great Matter behind and learn more about the other wives. If you’re a Tudor fan, I have no doubt you will love this but I also feel there’s a lot here to please any historical fiction reader.
Do also make sure you read the incredibly interesting author’s notes!
Jane Seymour : The Haunted Queen is available to buy!