Book Reviews

Review: The Favored Queen

The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Third WifeThe Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII’s Third Wife by Carolly Erickson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like The Favored Queen because of my fascination with Tudor history (especially Henry VIII’s wives), but I just couldn’t get into it. Erickson did a great job bringing historical details to life, but I just couldn’t get into Jane’s character.

The Favored Queen follow’s Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, from her time as maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon to her death shortly after the birth of her son, Edward. Following Jane as she navigated the mire of court politics surrounding Henry’s attempts to divorce Catherine and his subsequent split from the Church could’ve been interesting, but in this case, it wasn’t. A large part of this was because Jane seemed more like a spectator than anything else; she was a character whom things happened to, rather than a character who made things happen. There were a couple instances in which she did make decisions, but none of them were decisions that had huge impacts on the plot, and she immediately reverted back to her spectating self immediately after making them.

None of the other characters were particularly interesting to me, either. We spent a lot of time with Anne Boleyn, of course, but Anne wasn’t well-rounded at all. I get that, from Jane’s point of view, Anne was the villain in this story, but we never saw a side of her that was more than a spiteful and jealous woman. It would’ve been nice to see glimpses of another side of her, but that wasn’t the case here.

One thing that was done well was the setting. I slipped into the Tudor court easily, and I feel like Erickson used a lot of little details well to bring it to life.

Unfortunately, I wish she had spent as much time on the characters as she had on the setting.

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