Review: Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner

Plain Jane
by Laurien Gardner

Rating:  4/5

Author Laurien Gardner tells the story of King Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, in the illuminating novel, Plain Jane. Though Jane was born plain-featured, she would win the heart of the mighty King Henry VIII and become the highest woman in England (if only for a short time).

Being the less attractive daughter, Jane’s parents rarely pay her much mind are convinced she’ll never make a good marriage unless it’s to the church. Her sisters are spoiled with new gowns and Jane gets the hand-me-downs, even with education Jane got stiffed! Sir Frances Bryan, a friend of the Seymours, takes pity on Jane, who he thinks very highly of as she is light of heart and lively. He takes her to court where she is a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and subsequently Anne Boleyn.

Jane is the picture of morality and goodness, qualities which attracts Henry once his lust for Anne Boleyn has turned sour. At first, Jane is taken aback by the King’s flirtations; she couldn’t understand how he could be attracted to such different women. Whether spurred on by Anne Boleyn’s constant jibes (there are some great catty scenes courtesy of Anne) or her own need to prove to everyone that she’s much more than plain she returns Henry’s affections and settles in to her life as Queen.

Jane Seymour

Unfortunately, her tenure would not last long and Jane would die two weeks after the birth of Henry’s much longed for son and heir, a year and a half after becoming Queen.

Plain Jane is an engaging look at a charming and gracious woman who most people overlooked, but rose to be the Queen of England. I highly recommend!



  1. I am so happy I found this blog.....

  2. Thanks for your review. The book is now on my to read list.

  3. I read this book along with the ones on Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. While I am not a big Jane fan, it was interesting to read something about her since there really isn't that much out there.

  4. I quite enjoy Laurien Gardener's books (read Plain Jane earlier this year), and I was so pleased to discover she wrote one on Jane Seymour. There's so little hist-fic on Jane (if you know of any others, please share!).

  5. Oh, this book looks very good! I have read an endless amount about Anne Boleyn, but not much about Jane Seymour, so this looks like a refreshing change of pace for me. Thanks for the excellent review.

  6. I've never been a big Jane fan; I've always found her to be a well coached dishrag. How was she portrayed in this novel to make her a likeable and sympathetic heroine? It would be an impressive literary achievement.

  7. I enjoyed this one as well, it took me a single weekend to read.. I could barely put it down! The only complaint was the four zillion times she called herself Plain.. Plain... Plain.. sooo plain... sigh...
    Otherwise... very entertaining!

  8. Actually I felt really sad for her too.. i mean there is no mention of her past in the book i read... but she could have become Henry's fav queen... if she had lived on!

    I will chk this one out as well!

  9. I loved this author's book, A Lady Raised High- so it doesn't surprise me at all that she'd find a fan in you for this one as well- we have such similar tastes:)Great review Amy- I'll add it to my list of favourites-Thanks!


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