I reviewed the first season here; to recapitulate above cut, it's the Israeli show that inspired Homeland but while it shares some themes, tropes and the occasional storyline goes about them in quite different ways. Since Homeland started to lose me after its mid s2 downwards turn in quality (I stopped watching early in s3), I'm happy to report Hatufim, by contrast, manages to stay good tv.

Why and how is revealed beneath the spoiler cut )
Tags:
selenak: (Cosima by Karlsefni)
( May. 24th, 2015 08:21 am)
In which there are visions and symbols.

Read more... )
70 years after the war ended, and you still learn new details that choke you up. Last night I went to a fascinating presentation/panel by two authors, an actress and a moderator about a peculiar detail from the Nuremberg Trials from 1945 - 1948, the Zeugenhaus (literally "house of witnesses"). Seems the Allies, or more specifically the Americans, put witnesses for the trials, both witnesses who had been victims and witnesses who had been active perpetrators (but for some reason or the other weren't among the accused themselves) in the same house. Where they sat at the same table each morning and evening. So you had people who had endured the concentration camps, like Josef Ackermann (a journalist who survived Dachau, Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau), having to have dinner with not just Göring's private secretary, Gisela Sonnenfelder (there to testify about her bosses art looting mainly) but the founder and first director of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.

I mean.

It was a riveting presentation, and afterwards of course someone asked our main author, Christiane Kohl, who wrote about this (her book has already been made into a tv movie which I haven't seen yet), why the hell the first director of the Gestapo wasn't among the prisoners instead of being a wined and dined witness. ("Wined and dined" isn't an exaggaration; as opposed to the rest of the country, where the food situation was what you'd expect it to be in the wake of total destruction, both the witnesses and prisoners in Nuremberg had three to four full meals a day.) She said it was mainly because in 1945, many of the Third Reich documents hadn't been processed or even found - the protocol of the Wannsee Conference, for example, didn't turn up until 1947 -, so the prosecution had to rely on affidavits and living witnesses, and Diels was one of the few Nazi insiders willing to testify for the prosecution - he was referred to as an 1a witness - and swear to the fact that knowledge about the Holocaust hadn't been limited to a very few. Still: it's incredibly galling to imagine that this man due to his testimony not only got away scot free but was working in the Allied administration from 1948 onwards. Afterwards, he was thoroughly enjoying his life, getting a pension, living on an estate, and dying of all the things in a hunting incident. (He had an unsecured gun in the back of his car, the dog jumped on the gun, and that was that.) Actually, he was even enjoying his life during the Nuremberg trials; being good looking, he had many affairs, including with the landlady of the "Zeugenhaus", who was an Hungarian countess put in charge by the Americans because they thought "aristocrats have natural authority". God help us.

No wonder that Josef Ackermann wrote that "I chocked" when seeing this man on the other side of the table. Christiane Kohl says she was first alerted to this bizarre situation when coming across the guest book (yes, there was a guest book) of this house, where the victim witnesses, if they signed, signed solely their names, while the perpetrator witnesses signed with either long sentimental or long self pitying eloges on the note of "in a time when the whole world is against you, it's great that there is one place where you are treated with kindness and dignity". I suppose pragmatically speaking putting them in the same house was probably because with 98% of Nuremberg destroyed in 1945, there weren't that many houses where you could stash a bunch of people, but still. Surely there could have been a different solution that would have spared the victims having to house with Gestapo bosses? At any rate, you wouldn't dare to make something like this up. Reality beats fiction in sheer bizarreness every time.
...I've started to rewatch the show from the beginning. Which means the occasional rewatch thought in written form.

I had forgotten some details, such as the fact we don't meet Marcus Bell until episode 2, whereas in the pilot Gregson's Faithful Lieutenant with identical initial attitude towards Holmes is another character. I suppose given the time that passes between pilot making and series proper on American tv, the actor wasn't available anymore or was this more a case like the B5 pilot where the network objected to several actors? Anyway. One can't imagine the show without Bell, so I'm glad, whatever happened.

Something else I had forgotten: that the pilot establishes Joan's parents only just got together again after her father had had an affair. No wonder that in season 3 Mary Watson comes to a spoilery conclusion )

The first few episodes establish quite a lot about these versions of Holmes and Watson that holds up well three seasons later, which isn't always the case in shows with an evolving canon. Even something which I thought was one of the few things where Elementary contradicts itself later: does their Sherlock Holmes have friends pre-Watson, or doesn't he? Because actually it's Joan who comes to the conclusion he doesn't in episode 2, and that Gregson is the closest thing to a friend in his life right then. He doesn't refute her assumption, but neither does he confirm it. (They're still very early in their relationship, after all, when he regards her presence in his life as a paternally ordered intrusion.) When Alistair is introduced in episode 6 and during his second, honest conversation with Joan refers to himself and Sherlock as friends, she automatically says "Sherlock doesn't have friends". What Alistair says in reply basically, I think points to the difference betweeen pre-Watson and Watson era friends for this Sherlock Holmes.

Alistair says you can't expect Sherlock to relate to you and behave like a normal person does. Basically that you have to allow Sherlock to set the parameters for the relationship. And if you think about it, not just in Alistair's case but with all the pre-Watson friends we meet through the course of the series, this is certainly what he does. What's so new about Joan Watson is that she doesn't accept this, and does her own parameter-settings. And out of the negotiations between the two grows the Holmes & Watson relationship. (It's one of the things he learns from her that also transfers, not without complications and the occasional fallback, to the other new friendships he makes, as with Bell and Alfredo.

Something else that struck me as I rewatched those early episodes: Joan at the start of the show shares something with Joan mid s3 when spoilery things happen ) Because Sherlock's damage is so obvious, it's sometimes easy to overlook Joan starts the show damaged as well, and I think one reason why they work so well together is that they both at this point need someone to challenge them out of what they think their lives should be like.

You can tell Joan is interested in and intrigued by the detecting from the pilot onwards (and Sherlock does notice it). She's a problem solver by nature. What the three jobs she's chosen during the course of her life - surgeon, sober companion, detective - have in common is this, in connection with helping people, but they also allow her (usually) to keep her emotional distance from the people she helps. She's empathic, but up to a point. This prevents her from getting obsessive the way Sherlock occasionally does.

Elementary has been pretty consistent in having their Sherlock Holmes do the usual abrasive genius thing, but also have him show a particular distaste/deep-seated anger against villains who exploit the weak and powerless from the pilot onwards. (When he pulls that car stunt in the pilot, it's because he has just figured out something spoilery ) Which is important when it comes the careful growth of the Holmes and Watson friendship, and the "why does Joan Watson not quit early on before they become friends?" question. He does have a code of ethics when she meets him. There is a lot he learns from her, but not this basic drive for justice.
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
( May. 20th, 2015 03:04 pm)
I thought the old matriarch in Mad Max: Fury Road looked somewhat familiar. Turns it was Melissa Jaffer, who played Noranti in the fourth season of Farscape!


And a quick fanfic rec, a lovely missing Better Call Saul scene for Jimmy and Kim:


There Should be a Trophy (1700 words) by laliquey
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Better Call Saul (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jimmy McGill & Kim Wexler
Characters: Saul Goodman | Jimmy McGill, Kim Wexler
Additional Tags: Ambiguous Relationships, Friendship/Love, Manicures & Pedicures, Cooking
Summary:

After Kim gets fired by the Kettlemans, Jimmy does what he can with the limited resources in his office & the salon to cheer her up.

selenak: (James Boswell)
( May. 19th, 2015 09:30 am)
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: I read the novel only once, when it first came out, and only roughly remember the plot, so I am not very emotionally invested, but so far, so good for a first episode. I'm charmed (again) by the Georgian plus magic England.

Mad Max: Fury Road: is all that. Like, I imagine, a lot of viewers by now, I'm not not familiar with the previous Mad Max movies beyond knowing they existed and that Tina Turner's We don't need another hero was originally written for No.3 (which also has Tina Turner herself in it). Oh, and the Buffy fan in me knows that season 7's Showtime was a Mad Max homage, thanks to Andrew pointing that out in the episode itself. And that's it. Which is fine because this nominally fourth movie in the series is standing on its own, telling its own tale, and you don't need to know more. I had no intention of watching it before a) the MRA complained about it being feminist indoctrination, and b) the internet buzz about it being actually really good started, and yes. Great action movie, and Charlize Theron's Furiosa hopefully will join Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor as a female cinematic icon. Which reminds me: before the movie started, there was a trailer for the weirdly spelled latest Terminator installment, featuring teenage Sarah and grizzled Schwarzenator, and just, no. I'm sticking with my "no Terminator movies beyond the first two and The Sarah Connor Chronicles" canon in this 'verse, thanks, and thankfully The Sarah Connor Chronicles establishing this is a multiverse with mulitple timelines makes this exceptionally easy.
selenak: (Vanessa Ives by Sakuraberries)
( May. 18th, 2015 09:14 am)
In which Vanessa goes to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Force.

Read more... )
selenak: (Cosima by Karlsefni)
( May. 17th, 2015 01:47 pm)
In the Castor HQ looks more like a tv set than ever, which is a bit distracting, and also more clone interaction is at hand.

Read more... )
selenak: (Alicia and Diane - Winterfish)
( May. 16th, 2015 04:37 pm)
Or, to paraphrase Tallyrand about the execution of the Duke of Enghien ("worse than a crime: a stupidity"), it's worse than ridiculous: it's unprofessional.

So, one of the shows I stopped watching during the season that has just finished was The Good Wife. Mostly because a truly excellent season (the fifth one) was followed by a very mediocre one which took back most of what had made the fifth season good and didn't offer anything interesting in its place, instead increasingly going for Greatest Hits Retreats (with characters who had long outstayed their welcome, looking at you, Colin Sweeney), while also losing the ensembleness and character interactions that used to make the show. Now, had all of this not been the case, the fact that this was also the last season for one of the main characters, Kalinda, something which the audience was very aware of since the actress leaving the show had been announced, would not have been that big of a deal to me; while I've always liked Kalinda, she never had been my favourite character, or the key selling point of the show to me.

However, even if Kalinda hadn't been what made the show for me, it HAD been unavoidable to notice that despite the characters of Alicia and Kalinda reconciling in season 3, the actresses hadn't shared a scene together for more than 50 episodes after that. While Kalinda and Alicia talked, it was always on the phone. This year, there was incrreasing speculation about the reasons for this in the press. When it turned out that even in the last episodes, after I had stopped watching, the shared scene(s), when they finally came, were the result of cinematic trickery and green screen, I experienced the most massive eyeroll since that time when Newt Gingrich complained about Bill Clinton not invinting him to the front of the plane en route to Rabin's funeral and named this as a reason to shut down the government. Seriously?

Look, I don't care if politicians behave that way, but I want my members of the acting profession and of tv producing to have certain standards. To wit: no matter how you feel about each other, you do what you're paid for, which is, if you're an actress: acting your character with other actors to the best of your abilities. If another actor is abusing their kids or beating up their spouse or guilty of something similar, THEN, and only then, I could understand someone declaring "I don't want to work with this person, I don't even want to be in the same room with them". In all other cases, it's just stupid and, see above.

I'm a Star Trek fan. Which means I'm very aware of a very famous case of a leading actor managing to piss off the entire supporting cast with his ego. Did said supporting cast ever let that influence how they played their characters' emotions towards his character? Nope. And say what you want about William Shatner, but he never pulled a stunt like this, either. (If he had, we'd know by now.) And he actually worked in Sci Fi, where the use of what used to be blue and is now green screen is justified.

Mind you, I'm blaming the producers, too. If they didn't have the strength of character to put their foot down and declare "no matter what differences you have privately, your characters are supposed to be on screen together, so get in the studio already, ladies", they're failing their profession just as much.

I mean. This is show biz. Theatre, film and tv are full of feuding actors who worked together regardless because that was their job. (And it provided us with lots of entertaining stories, too.) I refuse to call this "diva like behavior", because divas, female and male, actually know better. They're professionals.
selenak: (Holmes and Watson by Emme86)
( May. 15th, 2015 01:50 pm)
Still chewing on this one, as a season finale and as an episode both. But here's my overall verdict on season 3: I loved the first half without reservation, and not just because of Kitty, but because of the coherent arc for all three - for they were three - leading characters. The second half, I liked, and at times loved, because there were some great episodes there, but the coherence of the first half was missing. Which means season 1 is still my favourite, and season 2 still my least favourite, with s3 falling in the middle - it has near greatness but also too much randomness in the second half to achieve it.

Now, on to the actual episode.

Read more... )
And in today's entry of "Links for people who didn't hate Age of Ultron":



Earth's Mightiest Monsters: thoughtful meta on the movie.



Fanfiction:

on second thought, better to use a spoilers for the movie cut )
This trailer for an upcoming Supergirl tv show (which I hadn't known was upcoming) awoke powerful Lois & Clark nostalgia in me - a DC tv show which doesn't go for grimdark but for joy and dorkiness in its characters? Bring it on! This looks delightful.


Better Call Saul:

Eleven (13432 words) by AddioKira
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Better Call Saul (TV)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Saul Goodman | Jimmy McGill/Kim Wexler
Characters: Kim Wexler, Jimmy McGill, Howard Hamlin, Burt, Ernie, Mrs. Nguyen, Mrs. Landry, Daniel
Additional Tags: Anxiety, friends or more than friends?, Sex Dreams, car theft, Flashbacks
Summary:

Kim waits outside of Judge Murray's courtroom for Jimmy to arrive.



Kim and her relationship with Jimmy before, during, after the show, not in linear fashion. Fantastic Kim and Jimmy characterisation. Dammit, show, why did you manage to make me care so much?

BtVS/AtS:

In Imbolic (1617 words) by duh_i_write
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Angel: the Series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Drusilla/Spike
Characters: Darla (AtS), Spike (BtVS), Drusilla (BtVS)
Additional Tags: Vampire Family, Canon-Typical Violence, Paganism, Non-Graphic Violence, Background Relationships, Episode Related
Summary:

If China taught Darla nothing, it was that a little sentiment remained in her, like the last mouthful of blood that remained stubbornly in the vein, thick and bitter.



The time after Angel(us) had left and before Darla, Drusilla and Spike parted ways has always intrigued me but rarely gets written about in fanfic, or it did the last time I looked. This story addresses this lack beautifully. Darla, you're still my favourite vampire of them all.
selenak: (Norma by Benchable)
( May. 13th, 2015 10:24 am)
In which several characters take a big step forward. This show being this show, this is not something beneficial to the continued survival of part of the population.

Read more... )
selenak: (Malcolm and Vanessa)
( May. 12th, 2015 08:52 am)
In which I have a naming problem, but that's just for reviews.

Read more... )
selenak: (Holmes and Watson by Emme86)
( May. 11th, 2015 10:36 am)
Oddly filler like for an episode before the finale. Err, not bad, just that it could have taken place at any point of the season. Otoh: bees!

Read more... )
selenak: (Allison by Spankulert)
( May. 11th, 2015 06:15 am)
Conference's over, very exhausted am I, etc., but I did manage to catch up with Orphan Black.

Read more... )
selenak: (Black Sails by Violateraindrop)
( May. 9th, 2015 08:53 am)
Briefly, as conference duties call:

Black Sails:

At last a collection of beautiful icons! The lack of Black Sails icons has been depressing. I used this bunch to rectify the situation immediately. Oh, I should add there's male nudity in some, I suppose, so if your employer frowns on that sort of thing, beware, etc. (The same icon post also has Daredevil icons, btw.)


Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Two positive reviews not despite but because of Natasha's part in the movie, praising it:

Here and here.

And lastly.

Sense 8:

Trailer for a new Netflix show which is of fannish interest because JMS (that's J. Michael Straczynski for non Babylon 5 people) wrote it. Oh, and those Wachowski guys are producing. It does look interesting. Caveat: JMS obviously is very interested in mutants/superpowered people and the way they're intrumentalized and/or persecuted by societies, since he's been dealing with that subject not just with the Telepath arc on B5 but repeatedly in comics - Supreme Power, The Twelve, Rising Star (not sure about the last title, I may misremember it). This had results ranging from the fascinating to the Byron, and I am not thinking of the poet. And then there's the part where Supreme Power petered out after a strong start because he lost interest, and we never got the Telepath War, and, well, I want my complete story, is what I'm saying, he's spoiled me on B5. All this said? I'll definitely tune in.
I'm on the road again and at a conference for the next few days, hence no Elementary review yet. However, when I just had a look at the news I spotted something to brighten up my morning - Agent Carter got renewed for a second season! I'm chuffed to bits and extremely happy at the prospect of more Peggy (and Jarvis!) in my life.

 photo image.jpg4_zps9vqkgi6q.jpg

Yes, the place of conference has to offer some visual attractions as well, these ladies included. Check out the rest beneath the cut.

Five times destroyed and still going strong )
selenak: (Elizabeth - shadows in shadows by Poison)
( May. 6th, 2015 04:23 pm)
Despite the fact that every time I visit London, more bookstores seem to have closed shop, I of course came back with several paperbacks in my luggage, including these two biographies. I had read excerpts of both previously, but never the entire book; now I have.

Tracy Borman: Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII.'s most faithful servant.: Well written biography, both if you're already well versed in Tudor lore and if you aren't. Definitely reccommended if Mantel's novels and/or the tv show have made you curious. Not least because while Borman is sympathetic to his subject, he doesn't edit out Cromwell's less savoury deeds the way Hilary Mantel does, nor does he suffer from an urge to vilify Cromwell's opponents as a way to make said deeds look better. His Cromwell comes across all around as more human - for example, definitely loyal to Wolsey after Wolsey's fall (and long after: Borman mentions Cromwell having an argument about Wolsey, defending him, in the last year of Cromwell's life), but also exasperated and irritated with Wolsey near the end of the Cardinal's life, when Wolsey was bombarding Cromwell with messages precisely because Cromwell was the only one who'd still listen, and being increasingly terse in his replies. (This doesn't lessen the rarity and admirability of said loyalty, I hasten to add.)

Unlike Mantel, Borman both has Richard Rich perjure himself in the More trial and presents the Anne Boleyn trials (i.e hers and those of her supposed lovers) as a public relations disaster for Henry & Cromwell. (As well he might; if someone as hostile to Anne Boleyn as the Imperial Ambassador thought the charges were unconvincing and that both Anne and George Boleyn came across as couragous and plausible by contrast, the propaganda value must have been zilch.) Interestingly, in the question as as to whether making Anne's death - as opposed to another annulment - the end game was Henry's or Cromwell's idea, once Anne's third miscarriage settled for Henry he wouldn't get any more living children from her, Borman goes with Cromwell, as opposed to a lot of other historians I've read. Borman thinks Cromwell went for broke in that regard as a matter of survival, because a living Anne might, just might have managed to win Henry around again, in which case Cromwell himself after their breakup would have been doomed. (Speaking of that, Borman goes with Ives about the argument re: the money distribution from the dissolution of the monasteries as a primary reason (though not the only one) for the Anne-Cromwell fallout. Said argument is another thing Mantel leaves out altogether, probably her Anne is so relentlessly self absorbed she'd never want the money to go to organized charity instead of the royal coffers, and her Cromwell far too reform minded and noble to want the money to fill the royal coffers instead of going to the poor.)


Cromwell's own downfall makes for harrowing reading. It also filled in something for me I hadn't known before. I mean, I had known that one reason, probably the main reason, why Gregory Cromwell survived his father's fate in a far better fashion than next of kin to condemmed traitors usually did had been because his wife was Jane Seymour's sister, but what I hadn't known was that said sister, Elizabeth, did all the paperwork distancing herself and her husband from her father-in-law (with whom she'd gotten on very well before) in terms of letters to people left in charge, denouncing TC. It was the pragmatic thing to do - and Elizabeth comes across as a far more capable survivor than her two famous brothers, Edward and Thomas -, but it still makes for somewhat chilling reading.


Julia Fox: Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford.: one of those biographies which can be considered as something of a game changer given it challenges accepted wisdom about a historical subject in a pretty radical way. Mind you, as a biography it suffers from the same problem biographies of other Tudor supporting players like, say, Mary Boleyn do, to wit, there isn't much first hand material about the primary subject, only one or two letters from her, and not much contemporary material about her, either; you get the impression that Julia Fox went over everything with the finest of combs and still mostly came up with statistics, so to speak; court masques Jane participated in, pageants she took part in, the terms of her jointure (= Tudor era pre nup, so to speak). Said statistics allow for some interesting conclusions - more about that later -, but they still are a vastly different basis for a biography than the one which Borman had for Cromwell, where there were a lot of conversations between Cromwell and other contemporaries reported, letters from Cromwell galore, etc. This means a lot of the book consists by necessity of events Jane witnessed, with Jane herself as a shadowy "Jane must have thought", and "Jane could see that..." type of presence.

However, while this is frustrating (and unavoidable, given the premise), it doesn't mean Fox' book doesn't contain both new and valuable information. What made the book so new and unusual when it was published (and still pretty unusual; Borman, in a book published only last year, for example, still mentions Jane "eagerly" supplying Cromwell with the incest accusation without even in his footnotes mentioning what Fox pointed out, that there is zero contemporary evidence for this) was that in its last third it demonstrated that accounts blaming Jane as the source of the incest accusation against Anne and George Boleyn don't start until Elizabeth's reign, when historians had the problem that on the one hand, the Queen's mother had to be innocent, but on the other, the Queen's father couldn't be blamed for her death, either, so clearly Henry had to have been misled by that stalward trope, evil advisors and false witness. Due to the way Jane died (executed for concealing and abetting the adultery of another queen), her reputation made her the ideal scapegoat, and the story took off from there: Fox shows how "Jane gave Cromwell the accusation" becomes Jane forging entire letters a few accounts later becomes Jane raging with jealousy and being a madwoman a century later and so forth. Whereas, and Fox was the first to point this out, all the accounts during and after Anne's trial and death do not mention her sister-in-law as the source of the incest accusation at all; instead, they name the (conveniently dead and supposedly having made a death bed confession) Lady Wingfield and the alive and owing money to Anne Countess Worcester as the sources.

(Btw, you can immediately see why even after Fox' book, novelists by and large stuck with Jane instead of going for Ladies Wingfield and Worcester. A jealous sister-in-law and/or neglectd/abused wife makes for a good story, especially considering she ends up executed herself a few years later. Two ladies-in-waiting, one of whom isn't even alive anymore, and neither of whom comes to a dramatic end, and who would have to be introduced to an already large cast without getting any type of narrative pay off? Not very satisfying dramatically. Ah, the messiness of real life.)

Fox, as well as pointing out there is no contemporary account reporting the Jane/George marriage to have been unhappy (it may have been, for all we know, but even a gossip hound like Chapuys who reported every bit of of news about Anne and her immediate relations he could find - for example, when Anne's sister Mary showed up pregnant and married against the will of the family to a commoner, it immediately went into the next dispatch to Spain - never mentions it), makes a good case for the Jane and Anne relationship to have been harmonious and even close. Not only for the pragmatic reason (Anne was the family star on which their fortune depended), but that's where the statistics come in useful: Jane had a far better and closer to her position during Anne's coronation than her sister Mary (this was before Mary's second marriage), she was constantly around Anne (who was notoriously short tempered during her queenship and not shy of banishing people from her presence she didn't like), when Henry was getting involved with someone else again for the first time in his marriage with Anne, Jane and Anne conspired together to get rid of the lady in question (according to Chapuys who again reported the whole thing, was gleeful about Henry turning on Jane for her trouble but certainly did not have the impression Lady Rochford and her sister-in-law were anything but allies). And then there's the old "cui bono?" question - who benefitted from Anne's fall and her and George's execution? Not Jane, who went from being sister-in-law to the Queen and one of the richest women in the country to being a traitor's widow whose property was, of course, confiscated by the crown and who had to fight for her jointure with her father-in-law. (Eventually, she had to ask Cromwell for help. Fox quotes from the letter which certainly doesn't read as "I did my bit, now cough up the cash!" but as standard "please help a poor widow!" groveling, and points out Cromwell got an almost identical letter from Bereton's widow - whom he also did help. Bereton, for non-experts, was one of the five men executed as Anne Boleyn's supposed lovers, and the outsider among them because he was over 50 and not even that often at court; most likely, he was on the hit list because he was feuding with Cromwell due to having judically executed one of Cromwell's men in Wales.)

The one statement which Jane did give Cromwell and which he used against the Boleyns, as testified by Chapuys and other contemporaries, ironically also points to both the closeness of the sisters-in-law and to Jane and George having at the very least the type of marriage where one shares confidences: it has nothing to do with incest and instead was about Anne having told her Henry had problems with impotence. (Which Jane in turn told George, who was asked "did your wife tell you your sister said...?" at his trial.) Which was damaging information, definitely, but whether it was provided voluntarily and at once or after Cromwell put on the pressure, nobody knows. What we do know, otoh, is that Jane was the only Boleyn family member to contact George when he was in the Tower. (We know because she gave the governor of the Tower, Kingston, a message for George who apparantly was glad to have it; at least, so Kingston promptly reported to Cromwell, which is how we know.) Neither of his parents did. Speaking of whom, another interesting statistics tidbit is that some years later, after Thomas Boleyn's death, and after Jane managed to get her jointure renegotiated again, with the net result of having her finances considerably improved, she got Henry's people to return her marriage bed with the Rochford insignia that had been confiscated along with the rest of George's property.

Of course, the main reason why Jane had the reputation she did for centuries isn't so much what she did or didn't do re: Anne Boleyn but because she died along with Katherine Howard. Here Julia Fox of course has to deal with the question anyone asks when coming across this part of history: why would Jane, who had better reason than most to know what even suspected adultery in a Queen could result in, aid and abet Katherine Howard's trysts with Thomas Culpepper? What was Jane thinking? She has to speculate along with the rest of us (the "why?" wasn't a question asked by the interrogators), and her idea is that once Jane made the mistake of obeying a command to carry a message to Culpepper and thus became co-culpable, she wasn't able to extricate herself anymore and thus went along with the rest of it. Fox argues that even had Jane reported the initial order, it would have been her word against that of Henry's much beloved new queen, and that she made the wrong survival call. Which is arguable; as Fox herself acknowledges, Jane was by that time wealthy enough again to retire to the country, which would have been one way to remove herself from a rapidly escalating situation without denouncing the queen. Here, Fox argues character: Jane had literally grown up at court (she'd been still a child when her father, Lord Morley, first brought her there), she'd lived there for most of her life, and she might have found it impossible to let go and live anywhere else. Whatever was the case, it led to her death.


In conclusion: not so much a biography in the classic sense as it is an historical argument - but a captivating one.
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