I picked this book up at a used bookstore ages ago and only recently decided to dive in. I read The Other Boleyn Girl five years ago and loved it, but for whatever reason, I never followed up with any of the other Tudor Court novels.
This novel follows Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn (Lady Rochford) during 1539-1547. Less than ten years and yet, their lives changes so dramatically in that time (with only one making it to the end of the book). I liked that Philippa Gregory gave Anne and Katherine more depth than most historians have in the past. Reading this while watching season four of The Tudors on Netflix, I was mostly struck by how Showtime just couldn’t commit to making Jonathan Rhys Meyers fat, rude, flatulent and gross the way King Henry VIII is reported to have become in his later years. Gregory described his appearance and smell so vividly, I felt quite sorry for all the ladies involved, trapped with a mad king and completely at the mercy of his whims.
Just like her previous book, this one is a quick read, despite its length. Chapters rotate between the three protagonists and are rarely longer than 10 pages, so you feel like you are flying through the book. Old English terms are used for authenticity, but not overly so that you can’t understand what’s being discussed. I thought the end of the book went a little quickly, compared to how much Anne of Cleves ordeal was drawn out. But perhaps that’s how it felt for those queens as they lived through it.