Historical Fiction: Alison Weir

The book is Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen. The series is Six Tudor Queens, and if you are up on your English history, you will know that this is the third in the series. The period is the reign of King Henry the VIII. The author is Alison Weir, who writes history AND historical fiction. And, Alison Weir, my gosh, has a remarkable talent. Her knowledge and expertise shine when she writes historical fiction. This is a brilliant gem of a book.

The story opens in 1518 with a young Jane Seymour growing up at Wulfhall, her family’s estate in Wiltshire. She believes that she might have a religious vocation, but instead her family sends her to be a maid of honor at the court of Queen Katherine of Aragon. Jane adores the gentle, religious Queen, but we all know what happens to Queen Katherine, the first wife of Henry VIII, right? Whether you know Queen Katherine’s fate or not, this fictional account of the Tudor court is fascinating.

In fact, I think that’s what I appreciate most about this book. You know the history behind the fiction is accurate, because look at all those biographies and histories that Alison Weir has written. She’s clearly an expert. And furthermore, she’s an expert with a vivid imagination, who can take the sparse historical information that’s available and create the world of sixteenth-century England in a way that effortlessly draws you in, yet does not feel falsely exaggerated. I loved, admired, and pitied this fictional Jane Seymour.

You can start, if you like, with the first two books in the Six Tudor Queens series:

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen

Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession

And if you want to read historical fiction set in this period by a different author, why, there’s always Hilary Mantel, whose first two books about Thomas Cromwell both won the Man Booker prize:

Wolf Hall

Bring Up the Bodies

AND there are three more Six Tudor Queens books to come! And the third of Hilary Mantel’s books is slated for 2019. If you like to read historical fiction set in Tudor England, it’s a great time to check out some library books!

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