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Monday, September 28, 2009

Biography Review - The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Author: Antonia Fraser
Review date: Sep 2009

'Divorced, beheaded, died...divorced, beheaded, survived...' you can hear this rhyme, recalling the order of Henry VIII's wives, like an endless respectful susurration on the lips of visitors to the historic places associated with them. - Six Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser

Yeah, I don't know what 'susurration' means either, but apart from that, I found this book very readable! Often historical biographies are filled with a lot of political mumbo jumbo, especially when political figures such as Henry VIII are concerned. But not this one. Yes, there is, of course, comment on the political state at the time. There has to be. Henry VIII's relationship with Anne Boleyn, and subsequently his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the catalyst for the reformation of England. But having said that, it should be noted that this book is very sympathetic to the point of view of the wives of Henry VIII. Antonia Fraser also highlights the kind of man that Henry VIII was. (No one played the blame game better than he did!) The book is very intelligently written but, as I said above, very readable and enjoyable.

As a side note, I should tell you that not long after starting the book, Hubby and I commenced watching Season 1 of The Tudors - the television series about the life of Henry VIII and his wives. Whilst the tv show is not an entirely accurate portrayal of Henry VIII's life at all, there is much in the show which is taken directly from history. Even some direct quotes that were thought to be made at the time by Henry VIII or his wives etc are used in the tv series. The show only added to my interest in the book and, it's worth noting, that English actor Henry Cavill, who plays The Duke of Suffolk (Charles Brandon) in the series (Henry VIII's best friend) is rather easy on the eye! In fact, I have a bit of a crush on him. (Ssssh! Don't tell my husband!)

Antonia Fraser has written a number of historical biographies, so it's safe to say she knows her stuff. I hope to start her book, Marie Antoinette - The Journey, soon. It's included in my big pile of books, carefully arranged on my bedside table for future reading! This is an incredibly fascinating and good read!

My rating out of 5:

1 comment:

Sarah P said...

I am going through a period of reading every bio about the Tudors that I can lay my hands on! Haven't read this one though and am off to order it now. Thanks for the review!