Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Six Wives of Henry VIII" by Alison Weir

Title: The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Author: Alison Weir
Published: Grove Press, 1991
Where I Got It: Somewhere online
Why I Read It: It's an obvious choice for me

What can I possibly say about this book? It's near perfect. Alison Weir (whom I love dearly!) reveals the histories and personalities of each of Henry VIII's six wives. Detailed family backgrounds and individual quirks allows the reader get a good glimpse into a great time in England's history.

The good. Alison Weir obviously spent years painstakingly researching every detail and fact that went into the book, and it pays off. I feel as if I personally know each of the wives. It had the possibility of being textbook-like, but it read like a big, detailed epic. I lovelovelove the family trees in the back. It seems like Henry was in someway distantly related to almost all of his wives!

The bad. More than half of the book was about Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Granted they are the most popular and/or controversial, and their stories span over many years, but because of that, I felt that I knew enough about them already. The rest of the wives were all crammed into the remaining pages. Poor Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves only have a chapter each, while Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr have two each. I liked the pictures (well, um, paintings), but I wish there were more.

I now have much more respect for the Showtime show
The Tudors. The writers had a tendency to mess around with history, like combining Henry's two sisters into one, making fake mistresses (grr, I still hate you Ursula Misseldon!), etc. However, in this book I realized that the show does take words and circumstances directly from history. Anne's final confession was word for word in the show, and so are a lot of other quirky lines; before I just thought these were clever lines from the minds of the writers. I felt so important in recognizing these!

While already semi-knowledgeable about this period of time, I seriously learned so much from this book! While I don't think this is much of a lay-by-the-pool-and-relax-on-vacation book, it is definitely a must read for all lovers of any kind of history. 5 stars!

Random thought: Jane Seymour is always, always, ALWAYS portrayed as the innocent, saint-like virgin. Am I the only one that thinks she looks kind of evil?
Not the most flattering portrait, but still.

13 comments:

  1. Haha, she doesn't appear particularly evil to me, but a bit stern and dull. Anyway, great review! I've been wanting to get my hands on this book, but haven't been able to yet.

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  2. Great review!

    Agreed - I think she looks evil. :)

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  3. I watched the PBS special based on this book.

    Side note. Just discovered this book: Kiss of the Rose: The Tudor Vampire Chronicles and thought of you

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  4. I LOVED this book. I haven't written a review yet because I just don't know how to describe it. I also love Alison Weir. My husband and I shamelessly love the Tudors, and I was irked by some of the changes they made, but also amazed at how accurate other aspects were, especially the lines that you mention. I loved Natalie Dormer as Anne (who is my favorite wife). I think Jane could not have possibly been as innocent as she is made out to be. Have you read The Lady in the Tower by Weir? It really goes into detail about the fall of Anne Boleyn, and doesn't shed the best light on Jane. Ok I've rambled on your blog long enough. Thanks for the review!

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  5. HI!

    We have an award for you at I'd So Rather Be Reading:

    http://idsoratherbereading.blogspot.com/2010/08/versatile-blogger-award.html

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  6. Haha Julia, I'm not sure how I feel about this Tudor-vampire craze....there is one I do want to read, I forget the name, but it's about Anne and George Boleyn coming back as vampires and who they would take their wrath out upon.
    Danielle, I have been looking for that book everywhere, it sounds good.
    The Tudors portrayal of Jane Seymour was absolutely beautiful....not what I see in that portrait.....she still gives me the creeps!

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  7. I just wanted to let you know that I have an award for you here.

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  8. lol - love the jane seymour comments. I will remember that when teaching the tudors in september!

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  9. All this talk about the Tudors is making me want to jump back into the genre...so I am finally going to read The Autobiography of Henry VIII. So in other words, I'll be back in two months with a review lol. Its so big! I am trying not to be intimidated.

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  10. She totally looks evil. I really want to check out this biography now.

    I have an award for you that you can pick up here

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  11. Ahh that's my favorite book ever! It's huge but so worth it. I can't wait to hear what you think about it!

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  13. Glad you enjoyed this book. It was one of my favorites as well. Weir is such an amazing storyteller-sometimes I forget that she writes nonfiction they are written so well. As to Jane, well she certainly played her part well. I don't think anyone truly innocent could have survived that court-they all needed their wits about them at all times. Jane played the innocent role expertly.

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