I hate to say it, but I find Philippa Gregory’s books a much better read than Elizabeth Chadwick’s. Even though both authors often deal with historical events and key characters from a romantic perspective, I seem to put down Philippa Gregory’s novels feeling that I’d been given a deeper insight into what might have happened at key points in history.
I think I’ve said it before, but having studied history to degree level, I still feel that the focus on political history that we followed missed out the significance of the individual and human relationships – we learned the what without really understanding the why.
In The Boleyn Inheritance Philippa Gregory tries to explain why Henry VIII got through so many wives in the final 8 years of his life, with the focus being on Anne of Cleves (No 4, divorced) and Catherine Howard (No 5, beheaded). There are sideways glances at the fates of Katherine of Aragon (No 1, divorced), Anne Boleyn (No 2, beheaded), Jane Seymour (No 3, died) and Katherine Parr (No 6, survived), underlining how Henry changed from golden youth to despotic tyrant, desperate for another male heir and to cling onto his more heroic and handsome yesteryears.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Boleyn Inheritance – Philippa Gregory