I’m going to begin by saying that I was kind of dreading this one given that I absolutely loathed the one about Anne Boleyn. I suppose I’m biased, given how much I like Anne. I feel as though history paints her as “the whore” but we need to remember that Henry was the king. Women back then didn’t get much of a say in how things went. But let us not dwell on semantics. I could get legnthy.
Regardless, here we go!
I actually came away liking Jane a bit more after having read this. Weir brings us an imagined version of Jane as to why she didn’t marry earlier–she wanted to be a nun. Whilst we have no way in knowing why in reality Jane didn’t marry earlier, it was an interesting take upon it. One wonders if that is the truth or if she really was plain and had trouble finding someone willing. Her family wasn’t in the poorhouse, so it would seem peculiar that a woman of good stock and was of marrying age wasn’t married. Not to mention her younger sister married before her.
The book, of course, introduces us to the entire Seymour clan and brings us to Wulfhall (Wolf Hall for Hilary Mantel fans) leading us though Jane’s life, the history of the family, their joys and sorrows..it’s a lively take on the family life and it’s interesting to see how things worked then.
Once Jane gets to court, first serving Katherine of Aragon, then Anne Boleyn, we get a good viewing of what life was like back then. I was amused by Jane’s naivety sometimes but was also irritated in some moments. I also found Sir Francis Bryan trying to woo her as a bit odd. But, that was court life. A young, unattached woman with access to the Queen? Always a draw for this hoping to reach high levels.
It was interesting to get an idea of how Jane may have felt about the swiftness of her courtship with the King and how fast Anne had her downfall. There are moments where Jane really pondered her part in the whole thing and it was easy to feel sympathy for her. At least I did.
We, of course, know what happens to Jane, so I won’t bore you with that. But I think you’ll be surprised that you will see more to ‘Plain Jane’ than you thought.
This book has made Jane rise like her personal device, a phoenix. We often dismiss her for being plain and otherwise useless but I think Jane Seymour is quite admirable, given how she risked her neck for trying to save the monestaries, people in the tower as well as trying to reconcile Henry and the Lady Mary.
Sometimes, it’s the quiet ones who really surprise us all.