cover image The Path to Somerset

The Path to Somerset

Janet Wertman. Janet Wertman, $13.99 (378p) ISBN 978-0-9971338-4-4

Wertman’s second book of the Seymour Saga (after Jane the Quene) moves confidently through the dark, final years of Henry VIII as well as through the vicious power struggle between soldier/politician Edward Seymour and Bishop Stephen Gardiner. In 1539, Henry is mourning Jane Seymour, his third wife and Edward’s sister, who died giving birth to the son he had long wanted. A depressed Henry arranges a political marriage to Anne of Cleves, which is never consummated and quickly annulled once he becomes smitten with 17-year-old Catherine Howard (Henry is 49 at the time). Catherine becomes queen and the simmering Seymour-Howard feud—between Edward and the Howard family ally, Gardiner—flares. Wertman dives into the rivalry between Edward and Gardiner: their political power struggle; religious disagreements (reformist and papist, respectively), and schemes to make each other appear as traitors in the eyes of an unstable king. Wertman provides a stark image of the aging, volatile king: a prolific executioner who sends two wives and numerous others to the scaffold; suffers from painful, rancid leg ulcers; and spends extravagantly on finery while budgeting poorly for a military campaign against Scotland. The novel’s sweeping historic detail and bewitching blend of rivalries and romances will dazzle devotees of Tudor England. [em](BookLife) [/em]