Gregg's Reviews > The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
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Apr 20, 09

Read in March, 2009

Even more gripping than Weir's "Elizabeth," this book chronicles the rise and fall (sometimes peaceful, often not) of Henry VIII's six wives. Weir gives as complete and broad a portrait of the man as she can--her focus is on the women in his life, true enough, but you don't finish this study thinking Henry was simply a horndog with too much power and too short an attention span when it came to the ladies. He's that, sort of, but he was also a devout Catholic concerned about the lineage of his throne, as well as his own immortal soul. The wives are described objectively, but it's hard not to feel for them: Ann Boleyn could have benefitted from more lessons of humility, perhaps, while Anne of Cleves was lucky just to get the &^$# out of there. Others, like Katherine Howard, are hard not to feel contemptuous towards. This book makes Showtime's "The Tudors" sound like a child's betime story. Extremely good stuff.

And I've just got to say it: Poor Wolsey. He never deserved any of this, no matter how power-hungry he might have been. Did you know Boleyn put on a show upon his death titled "Cardinal Wolsey Goes to Hell?" Talk about an ignominous legacy.
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