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Thursday, 4 March 2010

THE LAST BOLEYN by Karen Harper

Another book for the Historical Fiction Challenge on ROYAL REVIEWS.
This story gives another slant of the Boleyn family (have read Phillipa Gregory's book The Other Boleyn Girl which I enjoyed).

I was not aware that the Boleyn name came into being in 1530 - previously the family name was Bullen and Anne had wanted the name changed and pronounced Boleyn, a French spelling and much more suited to a future queen of the realm.

We are shown how manipulative the fathers, husbands etc. were in order to become powerful. Thomas Bullen, the father of Mary and Anne was a power hungry man who thought nothing of using his daughters and also his wife to attain his aims.

Mary Bullen is sent off to France (at a young age as was the custom) to be at the French Court in the service of Princess Mary Tudor, King Henry's sister, who was now the Queen of France.
When King Louis XII, dies, his nephew Francois, comes into power, and besides having eyes for Princess Mary Tudor, casts his net at young Mary, who becomes bedazzled by his handsome appearance and everything about him.
Young Mary is finally seduced by Francois, and comes to realise just how ruthless life at court can be.
William Stafford, a member of King Henry's court, becomes entranced with Mary whle on the King's business in France. His love never waivers for Mary even when upon her return to England, her father arranges a marriage with Will Carey.
As was Henry's want, he wants Mary and has her. For 5 years she is his constant companion, and has 2 children by him,Henry and Catherine, who over the following years are taken from her and used as pawns - once again by her father.

I don't want to give too much away, but Mary's marriage to Will Carey is a loveless match, and all the while, "Staff" is in the background watching over Mary, who comes to realise she is falling in love with him.
Will Carey dies and it is sometime before Mary and Staff can marry - all the time playing politics at court and becoming involved with Thomas Cromwell.

The decline of the Boleyn family comes about when Anne and her brother George are beheaded - King Henry wanting to marry Jane Seymour.
Thomas Boleyn, the father is now a broken man, who has now lost all his power and position at court.
But Mary survives all, and her and Will return to his family property Wivanhoe.

Excellent story.

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