This book is the result of a collaboration by seven young adult authors, all women; their work provides a very readable history of Tudor England from the perspectives of Henry VIII’s six wives. Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Katherine Parr all come to life on the pages of their respective chapters. Each story is interesting in its own right; together, their individual voices form a simple but cohesive account of the relationships at the foundation of King Henry’s 38-year reign.
I love historical fiction because you can pick up so many interesting facts as you immerse yourself in the story. Did you know that Jane Seymour was idolized by Henry after producing him a male heir? She died after giving birth to his son, and Henry had her heart buried in the Chapel at Hampton Court. Anne of Cleves never consummated her marriage with the king, but lived on a generous settlement long after the annulment of her marriage, and was referred to as Henry’s ‘beloved sister.’ I also did not know that poor Catherine Howard, beheaded at just 18 years old by the jealous 50-year old Henry, was a cousin of Anne Boleyn. And I learned that Katherine Parr, the well-educated wife who survived him, served as regent, ruling all of England for a summer while Henry went to battle in France. She also worked to bring together and educate all three of Henry’s children.
As always, a book like this always makes me wonder how much fact is integrated in the fiction. Judging from the information provided at the end of book, it appears that the stories of each queen are based on extensive research. The brief “Tudor Timeline” and a “Who’s Who in the Court” both are both helpful references.
If you love stories that make history come alive, this is a great read.
Review by Roberta Jordan, Outreach and Instruction Librarian
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