The story is about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard~the 2nd and 5th wives of Henry III. I never get sick of this story. I have read several books including one of my favorite(s) The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance both by Phillipa Gregory. I have to say hands down Ms. Plaidy's Murder Most Royal is the best in my opinion.
The story begins with Anne living at Hever Castle as a child of seven getting ready to accompany Mary Tudor the sister of Henry VIII on her trip to France to marry Louis of France. The company is held up at Dover Castle where Anne will first meet Henry. She is impressed with his size and confidence. As a child she idolizes Mary Tudor~in Anne's eyes she is beautiful, funny and self-assured. The English Channel is storm ridden~delaying the trip to France. The more Anne is in the company of Mary she learns confidences re: the love Mary has for Charles Brandon the Duke of Suffolk. Anne learns at an early age to be told confidences and keep them.
Hever Castle located in Kent, England. The birth place and childhood home of Anne, George, and Mary Boleyn. It is truly a gorgeous spot of southern England. It's out in the middle of nowhere, far from any crowded city. It's easy to see why the Boleyn's loved it so. I had the privilege of visiting here this past summer.
To the left is Dover Castle where the company of Mary Tudor stayed while waiting out the storm on her way to France. Anne was among the company as a seven year old child.
Anne grows up in the French court where she is well educated by royal scholars. She becomes an accomplished musician and vocalist. She is a favorite of the court, being witty, beautiful and charming. She is no country bumpkin despite the fact that she was born in the country, her father, Thomas Boleyn being a merchant of no distinctive pedigree. It is Anne's mother Elizabeth Howard that descends from the noble & great, her father being the Duke of Norfolk with a claim to the throne of England.
Thomas Boleyn by artist Hans Holbein
When Anne returns to Hever as a teenager she quickly becomes a favorite among the younger people. She has a keen sense of fashion and excellent taste. It isn't long before her personal designs of dresses become copied among the court. She will soon discover that her sister Mary is consider a slut because she not only was the King's mistress but apparently mistress to several others at court. Anne is appalled that Mary could be so self effacing, does she have no pride? Anne will also learn of her Uncle Edmund Howard's poverty in his household with a wife and 10 children, among which is darling little Catherine Howard who bonds immediately with her older 1st cousin Anne. It is here at Hever that she will first meet the King on an intimate level.
To the right: A view from Anne's bedroom over looking the courtyard of Hever Castle
She had sat on a seat in the rose garden for an hour or more, half dozing, when she decided it was time she gathered the flowers and returned to the house; and as she stood by a tree of red roses she was aware of a footfall close by, and turning she saw what she immediately thought of as "a Personage" coming through the gap in the conifers which was the entrance to this garden. She felt the blood rush to her face, for she knew him at once. Murder Most Royal pg 37~Jean Plaidy
The review continues Friday December 4th...