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Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford Kindle Edition

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Length: 402 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wife of Anne Boleyn's brother George, Jane, Viscountess Rochford, has been painted by historians, beginning with the Protestant Elizabethan John Foxe, as a barren, jealous shrew who lied about George and Anne's incestuous relationship, helping send them to their deaths for treason against Henry VIII. Jane herself was executed for treason several years later for abetting the adultery of Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. According to Fox's revisionist account, Jane was faithful to the opportunistic Boleyn clan; she didn't rush to slander her husband, but succumbed under Thomas Cromwell's relentless interrogation, repeating an indiscretion by Anne about Henry's sexual dysfunction. Moreover, Fox says, George's execution was a financial blow to Jane—his royal perquisites of lands and offices were seized. Jane clawed her way back to a senior court position when she was ordered by Catherine Howard to pass messages to her lover, and Jane's complicity, according to Fox, opened the door for historians to excoriate Jane for her sister-in-law's death. In her debut, Fox never quite convinces readers that her lackluster, almost faceless Jane is a courageous, mostly blameless victim of court intrigues, and this amateurish, toothless history is more a rehash of Anne's rise and fall with a tag-on about Catherine's foolhardiness. (Jan.)
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Review

Advance praise for Jane Boleyn

“A riveting story–expertly written and based on an impressive body of research. Julia Fox’s book re-creates the inner life of one of the great scapegoats of history and vividly depicts the fervid, extravagant, interbred world of the Tudor court.”
–Sarah Gristwood, author of Elizabeth & Leicester

“Jane Boleyn’s true history was obscured by lies and propaganda. Now, in an outstanding debut by Julia Fox, the full tragedy of her thwarted life has come to light. A fascinating and moving read, Jane Boleyn exposes the harsh reality of Henry VIII’s court, where cleverness and ambition often led to the block.”
–Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

“This electric account of the life of Jane Boleyn brings us face-to-face with the glittering but brutal world of Henry VIII’s court. For centuries the infamous Lady Rochford was accused of betraying her husband to his death on charges of incest with Anne Boleyn. Julia Fox’s immaculate detective work and vivid storytelling bring to life one woman’s struggle to survive at the apex of a society where success brought untold riches and a king’s anger cost you your life.”
–Leanda de Lisle, author of After Elizabeth


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2122 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345485416
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 26, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 26, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W966S4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,384 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Perry on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There isn't a lot known about Jane Boleyn and this book is purely speculative. I appreciate the author's attempt to shed light on the infamous Lady Rochford, but the book falls short. The author's most quoted source is the Spanish ambassador, Chapuys, who was certainly a biased individual. I found the descriptions of the marriage negotiations and Jane Boleyn's widowhood fascinating. I wish there had been more discussion about the marriage between George Boleyn and Jane. The author says very little about George. The author's premise is to provide a more balanced picture of Jane Boleyn, but even the author is forced to concede that Jane Boleyn gave evidence against Anne of Cleves when Henry wanted to end that marriage and helped Catherine Howard conduct and conceal an adulterous affair. This was after she survived the bloodbath when Henry VIII disposed of Anne Boleyn. Not only did Jane survive, but she retained royal favor, serving Henry's next three queens. These are facts that confirm rather than contradict the accepted version of Lady Rochford.

I appreciate the difficulty of writing about a subject about whom so little is known but the legend of a conniving, hateful wife. I can appreciate Jane Boleyn being swept along during the rise and fall of her sister-in-law. Jane Boleyn was savvy enough to overcome the difficulty in regaining her position after the executions. She was not foolish, as evidenced by her negotiations with Thomas Boleyn for her jointure. Why did she allow herself to be caught up in Catherine Howard's dangerous and foolish love affair? The author doesn't provide a satisfactory hypothesis. The book was an interesting read.
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83 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on January 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the more interesting women of the reign of King Henry VIII of England tends to be either vilified, or given not much more than a momentary glance. She has come down through history as a treacherous woman, providing the testimony that doomed two queens to execution for adultery, and even accusing her husband of commiting incest. To cloud the matter further, it seems that she was mad and unknowing when she laid her head on the headsman block.

Author Julia Fox peels back the legends and works at recreating the real Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, from the information that actually exists about her. And what the reader discovers is that Jane Parker, as she was born, was hardly the scheming creature that popular fiction and some histories have made her out to be. But neither was she a completely innocent pawn either, and Jane Parker turns out to just an average woman, who finds herself in the middle of various conspiracies where a wrong word could mean a person's death.

The daughter of a minor nobleman, Lord Morley, Jane Parker grows up expecting to marry and have a household of her own, with security and some means to ensure a safe future. It was the typical role expected of every English gentlewoman, and from all accounts, Jane was more than happy to work towards it. Her father, a noted diplomat and scholar, had already started discussions with the Boleyn family nearby, and Jane was married at a young age to her cousin, George Boleyn, already becoming a young courtier at King Henry's household. As his wife, Jane would find herself in a glittering world, full of fine jewels and clothing, wonderful entertainments that she would take part in, and even a spot in Queen Catherine of Aragon's household as one of her ladies. It was a heady prospect, and one that Jane delighted in.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on August 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are countless historical personages about whom very little documentary evidence remains extant, and Jane Parker Boleyn is one of them. Julia Fox has attempted to piece together a biography of this woman, lady in waiting to 4 of Henry VIII's ill fated queens. As wife and widow to Anne Boleyn's brother, George, Lord Rochford, Jane was a firsthand witness to the madness that swirled around the court of England's most monomaniacal monarch. Fox portrays her not as the infamous, self-serving turncoat, but as a woman buffeted by the demands and restrictions placed upon Tudor women of her social class. Whenever I read about the women in Henry's court, I marvel that they could have been so blind to the likelihood, almost the certainty, that they would come to the same tragic end as their immediate predecessors. But it's impossible to place oneself in the shoes of another, especially after more than 400 years, and that's part of what makes Tudor history so fascinating. Was Jane a social climber? Undoubtedly. Julia Fox has done a service in depicting this ancillary courtier in the context of her available options, as far as they can be known.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By MJS on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Telling the story of any woman that lived more than 500 years ago is a challenge. Unless the woman in question was highborn, there is unlikely to be much secondary information about her and unless she wrote letters and the receivers saved them, there's no insight into the woman herself. This is the challenge Julia Fox faces in writing about Jane Parker Boleyn.

The Infamous Lady Rochford was on scene for the beheading of two of Henry VIII's wives. The first, Anne Boleyn, was a natural. Jane was not only Anne's sister-in-law, she was a lady in waiting to Queen Katherine. The second always strike me as simply odd. Who keeps their dead/annulled wife's sister-in-law around to take care of your new wife? Especially when you had her husband executed for sleeping with his sister/your wife? Surely good help wasn't that hard to find in Tudor England.

Fox starts out tentatively, telling Jane's story with liberal use of the words "maybe", "probably", "perhaps," and "we can't be certain." Another writer might have boldly made suppositions and presented them as likely facts. I can't fault Fox for being so scrupulous but it did make those first chapters a tiring read for me. Once Fox has access to primary sources, she's more at ease and Jane's story picks up.

Jane Boleyn remains unknowable through no fault of Fox's. There are few surviving letters from her and her testimony at Catherine Howard's was obviously constrained. Fox makes a convincing case that Jane was simply seduced by the abundant luxury of living close to and being in favor with the King. If he liked you, the perks flowed and you were sleeping in a custom carved bed and drinking from gem-encrusted gold cups. You were also living at the most exciting place in England. The temptation was too much for Jane.
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