My Lady Viper: Tales from the Tudor Court
Anne Seymour, the main character in the latest novel from the prolific E. Knight, is a tricky choice for any book’s narrative focus. In history, Anne, the wife of Edward Seymour (who was brother to Jane Seymour, the only one of King Henry VIII’s wives to give him the living male heir he so desperately wanted), was known as a grasping, ambitious shrew. Henry’s last wife, Katherine Parr — not a woman given to casual slanders — referred to Anne simply as ‘hell,’ and she seems to have been no better liked by the rest of the Tudor court.
When her husband’s nephew becomes the boy-king, Edward VI, Edward Seymour is made Lord Protector, and Anne rises to the pinnacle of the slippery and dangerous Tudor world, claiming precedence even over the dowager queen. Knight takes us inside the fevered mind of this scheming woman, and if she never quite arouses our sympathy, she does at least guarantee that we will never think of Anne Seymour in simple terms again. The other characters around this would-be Lady Macbeth necessarily feel very secondary, but the end effect is extremely memorable. Very highly recommended.