The Tudor Wife

by Emily Purdy

Read this in about 7 minutes
Anne Boleyn is a historical character that has astonished me, and I am sure many others. After watching different series and documentaries, I was very much obsessed with the Tudor queens, Anne Boleyn especially. When I came across this book in a recent sale I instantly knew learning about the queens from a lady-in-waiting’s perspective is going to be something else! I started reading this book as soon as I bought it. This is definitely a piece of art that anyone interested in the English royalty must read!

‘Your wife I cannot be; your mistress I will not be.’ Those were her words, cold and to the point, like a dagger in the heart.

Cover page

I absolutely loved the cover-page. It has been well thought over and researched. The cover consists of a queen wearing the periodical attire. Very cleverly the artist has hidden the face of the queen and only the ensemble is visible, since the book is about all the queens and not just one. The book title reads—The Tudor Wife. The typography is well thought of. The cover-page in all does complete justice to the story inside. 

Characters

The book is a compilation of the life of all the Tudor queens married to Henry the eighth, except the last one. The person narrating the tales is Jane Rochford, Anne Boleyn’s sister-in-law. All the characters in the queens are parallel to the history and not much change has been done in the name of historical fiction. You will come to love, hate and sympathize with all the queens, such is the writing of Emily Purdy.

There are many other characters that have been brought to live by Emily Purdy.

Content

Vengeance is mine; I shall repay.
–Romans 12:19
The book begins with this verse. This is for Jane Rochford, who dies with the blood of Anne Boleyn and many other in her hand. The book talks about all the queens but last of Henry VIII. Jane is the narrator of the story. Hence all the characters are depicted from her point of view. These are the tales of accession to the throne and the downfall. Each of the queens have been given their due. 

More than half of the book is dedicated to Anne Boleyn, fairly so since she is probably most remembered queen. One chapter is dedicated to Anne of Cleaves. And all that has been said about her is that she was repulsive to the king, so much that he divorced her and adopted her as a sister. Other queens have their fair part in the book, their stories told well.

But things were changing. Though Henry continued to profess his undying love and shower her with gifts, there hung about him brooding air of a man who has grown tired of waiting and is beginning to wonder whether it is really worthwhile…

Language

The narration is filled with guilt, even though Jane talks about vengeance. Jane Rochford definitely feels guilty of the various deaths that are partly on her heads. Therefore in the entire book she is always looking for sympathy and justifying herself. 

The narration is going to get you sympathize and understand each queen and Jane Rochford herself. Where in the entire world she is known as a symbol of jealousy and betrayal, the author will get you to maybe pity her somewhere. 

I absolutely loved the narration. I got to have some beautiful quotes too. So I am happy! 

Good points

The cover-page takes you to the world of royalty right at first glance. This is definitely one of the covers that will compel you to buy the book. 

The characterization is very gripping. Anne Boleyn has been further immortalized by the book. Other queens also get their respective spaces.

The narration is really gripping. You would find yourself wishing that you could read for a living. This one book is going to keep you awake till the midnight. 

Bad points

Where the author got all the characters right, she deviated a lot when she came to Catherine Howard. Catherine has been portrayed throughout as a nymphomaniac child. It sentence itself sounds wrong but yeah. There are also too many details of her encounter which seem to be unbelievable at certain stage.

There are certain passages in the book that feel repeated. The same lines have been said with different words. Which tend to tire you. I mean who liked to listen to the same thing over and over again! 

‘Calais,’ she continued, as if she had not heard. ‘Once a woman surrenders herself to a man, even though that is what he wants to do, he instantly loses all respect for her. Some men are just better at hiding the truth than others, and some do not even bother to try.’

Overall

Overall, I loved the book enough to read few other by the same author. I am now interested in knowing what happens to the Tudor offspring and how Elizabeth succeeds to the throne. Emily Purdy has definitely got me curious. 

Who do I recommend this to

I would recommend this book to everyone interested in the English royalty. Anne Boleyn fans, this is definitely something to watch out for. Someone who loves good narration, this is the book!

Quotable Quotes:

‘Perhaps you look for dead men’s shoes?’ Anne batted her lashes coyly. ‘If any misfortune befell His Majesty you would look to have me!’
Guard your heart, Elizabeth, guard it as if it were your greatest treasures; keep it under lock and key, and be wary of who you let near it, lest you be betrayed. Let no man be your master; be mistress of your own fate instead. Never surrender!’
‘Weep not for us, but for the absence of justice from England!’ Weston advised the crowd as they were led back to their cell in the Beauchamp Tower.
‘No, Jane, you have courage, for you have far greater need of it than I do! You have to go on living, while I have only to die. And someday, Jane, you too will die, and then you will have to answer to God for what you have done. He—in this case, she—who sows the whirlwind must expect to reap the storm. Good-bye Jane.’
A swift slash of silver steel ended Anne’s life. So died the only woman who had ever made a fool of Henry Tudor, challenged and denied him.
In death, poetry, and legend they had all found immortality. And I would be remembered alongside them, my name a byword for jealousy, treachery, betrayal, and lies. I found my immortality in infamy; I has unjustly become one of the villains in Anne Boleyn’s tale, my true innocence blotted out and obscured by bloodstains.
Thanks to Thomas Cromwell, I would always be remembered as “The Red Widow”, with my husband’s blood forever on my hands; whenever people heard my name they would instantly think of lies, jealousy of embittered wives, and treachery.
Yes I had a lot to thank Cromwell for—that is what I thought of as I stood beside the scaffold and watched him die.
‘There is no such thing as love, Jane; it’s just the dream we all aspire to, and the stuff of songs and stories that fuel our hopes and longings. Aye, there is passion, but passion is not love, Jane, though we like to delude ourselves into thinking it is. But it dies quick; it is a flame that flares high, blazes bright, and soon dies, and all we are left with are the cold ashes of memory.’
Even though tomorrow I must die, and Cranmer urges me to clear my conscience so that I mat die shriven of all my sins, of that I will never repent! Vengeance was mine and I did repay!

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com