Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen

Written by Alison Weir
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

Set in Tudor England, this novel is about the third Queen to Henry VIII. Katherine of Aragon is divorced for failing to provide a living, healthy son and Anne Boleyn is executed for much the same reason and her accused treason. Jane Seymour becomes Queen of England only ten days after the death of Anne and is said to be the only Queen that Henry really loved. She died shortly after giving birth to a boy, later to become Edward VI.

This third book in Alison Weir’s series on the six wives of Henry VIII tells us much of what we didn’t know about her life before becoming Queen. Although this is a work of fiction, Alison Weir is a much-respected historian; she has done an enormous amount of research on the families involved and the lives they would have lived in the 16th century. Childbearing was a very risky business back then, and various reasons why Jane died have been given over the centuries, but there seems to be little doubt that Henry loved her for herself as well as for giving him the son he craved. The story is woven around the families and events of the day and very plausibly told.

I found this to be a first-class novel and have great respect for Alison Weir’s ability to create a fascinating story out of very little surviving documentation. She calls Jane an enigma, which adds to her fascination. Jane is the only queen to die naturally while still married to Henry, and Weir has given us a great story from a turbulent age.