THE FAVORED QUEEN
It is often surmised that Henry VIII loved his third wife Jane Seymour best. She appeared to be quiet, kind — and she gave him the son he coveted. In her third novel centering on Henry’s wives, Erickson portrays Jane as a strong, deeply passionate woman. Erickson merges her meticulous research into this fictionalized biography with grace, making the events and personages accessible. Highly enjoyable and educational Erickson shows she is a master of the craft.
At a young age Jane is sent to court to be lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon along with the spoiled Anne Bolyen. Sweet Jane is devoted to the queen and unwillingly drawn into the politics and religious mechanisms surrounding Henry’s drive for a divorce to marry Anne. Jane is to marry her dear friend Will Dorme, a member of Henry’s entourage. Though Jane loves Will, she falls passionately in love with a handsome Frenchman. Jane quietly watches Anne’s rise and fall, and even before Anne is executed Henry asks her to be his wife. Jane cannot refuse and does her best for Henry, his children and even the Catholics of England, but her reign is cut short. (ST. MARTIN’S, Oct., 294 pp., $25.00)