Jane Seymour is perhaps Henry VIII’s most overlooked and underestimated wife, so any new biography that brings attention to this woman is always welcome in my book.
One of the things I admire about Johnston’s work is that she admits to the gaps in the source material; often, authors try to gloss over these gaps by filling them in with general information about life in the 16th century, or by theorising based on the scantest of evidence. Whilst the author does do the work of the historian by analysing and interpreting the sources we do have, she acknowledges that there are things that we simply do not, and perhaps cannot, know.
There are some fascinating details that Johnston sheds light on, which I had not really read anything about previously. In an early chapter, there is an interesting discussion about evidence that suggests Jane had at least one or two suitors prior to capturing the King’s interest. I also was unaware that Edward inherited some of his mother’s possessions, which is such a touching detail.
Finally, I must talk about the illustrations. They bring new life to the biography, allowing readers to feel like they know Jane and the people around her that little bit more.
Overall, this biography of Jane Seymour was an enjoyable, informative read. My thanks to NetGalley and Pen & Sword for giving me the opportunity to review this book.