Stranger Than Fiction Book Club meets monthly to discuss current nonfiction titles. For our November 14 meeting, we will discuss Alison Weir's 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII'.
The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England from 1509 to 1547 is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. Their collective story has not been comprehensively told since the beginning of this century; today’s reader is thus especially blessed to have at hand so full, meticulously researched, and superbly narrated a work as this.
The men and women of the Tudor period left behind more complete and colorful records of themselves and their times than those of any previous era. Through the wealth of written material—early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports—the six queens and the monarch they married and the myriad and ceaselessly plotting courtiers around them come vividly alive for us. In a labor of many years, Alison Weir has tirelessly made her way through the entire labyrinth of Tudor history, employing every known archive, and from it all has wrought a seamless and involving narrative.
Annulled, executed, died in childbirth, annulled, executed, and widowed; these were the well-known fates of the six queens, but here they take on more fully realized flesh and blood than ever before. Katherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured woman who jumped at the chance of independence; Katherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Katherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time.