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Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford, by Julia Fox (Read by Jenny Sterlin)

Jane Boleyn

Opportunist or pawn? Schemer or innocent? Justly punished or wrongly accused? These are some of the questions Julia Fox poses as she tells the story of Jane Boleyn's short life in Henry XIII's court. As the wife of George Boleyn and sister-in law of Queen Anne Boleyn, Jane is welcomed into the inner circle of court life. Her position is threatened when Henry tires of Anne, but Jane retains her place at court by providing the evidence Henry needs to condemn Anne and George. Her continued loyalty to the monarchy and to its powerful players ensures that she has an income and an honored place at court. She serves three of Henry's queens after Anne, but her loyalty to her last queen leads to her tragic downfall and death.

Julia Fox is a student and teacher of Tudor history, and she feels that Jane Boleyn has been treated unfairly by history. Known as "the infamous Lady Rochford" Jane earned the scorn of her contemporaries as well as the contempt of modern scholars. In order to give current observers an opportunity to judge, Fox takes listeners back to the 16th Century through descriptions of the conditions, lifestyles, conversations and relationships of several of the historic figures of the time. She presents Jane as a woman who cleverly, but not maliciously, seized opportunities that allowed her to live well while others around her suffered and died. Jenny Sterlin provides just the right tone of regal authority to her narration. It's easy to imagine that the narrator really is an informed member of the royal court.

I'm not sure that Julia Fox has succeeded in vindicating Jane, but she has succeeded in writing a very well-researched document about Jane's life and times. She's infused the historic figures with plausible personalities through arresting dialogue and vivid descriptions by seemingly credible witnesses. The audio book is a fascinating look at a key figure in the drama that was the court of Henry XIII, and listening to the book is a thoroughly absorbing and enthralling adventure.

Ruth Mormon

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