Thursday, January 3, 2008

I've Come Late to the Philippa Gregory Show

I thought I’d made a new discovery in The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction about Henry VIII’s fourth and fifth wives. Unlike some other efforts I can think of, this is not just a costumed veneer to disguise steamy sex (or a jockstrap ripper, as my mother said once), but what seems like an honest attempt to make history come alive (okay, with some incidental steamy sex).

Of course now that I look at the cover (I listened to it, so I didn’t get the full physical impact of the book), it does look more like a romance than anything else; I can see why I've skipped over this author before, completely unaware.

It turns out that Ms. Gregory is practically an industry already (, and The Boleyn Inheritance is just the latest in a long line of novels about English history. A reliable source in the book club says that it’s not even her best. I’ll let you know when I read another one. And apparently a movie based on an earlier novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, is coming out in February.

It used to be that all I knew about Henry’s wives was “divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.” Whether this book is on target or not (and it seems as though she intends it to be), I’ve got more of an interest in Anne of Cleves and Kathryn Howard, and an urge to read more.

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