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Wife After Wife

Wife After Wife

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If Philippa Gregory and Jackie Collins went out for cocktails and wrote a book, they'd come back with Wife After Wife.

A wickedly entertaining and utterly absorbing modern take on the life and marriages of Henry VIII...if he were a twenty-first-century womanizing media mogul rather than the king of England.

Master of the universe Harry Rose is head of the Rose Corporation, number eighteen on the Forbes rich list, and recently married to wife number six. But in 2018, his perfect world is about to come crashing to the ground. His business is in the spotlight--and not in a good way--and his love life is under scrutiny. Because behind a glittering curtain of lavish parties, gorgeous homes, and a media empire is a tale worthy of any tabloid.

And Harry has a lot to account for.

432 pages, Paperback

First published January 21, 2020

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About the author

Olivia Hayfield

3 books161 followers
What would Henry VIII, Elizabeth 1st, or Richard III be like if they lived today? Questions like these inspire Olivia Hayfield's modern-day retellings of historical tales.

Following her Tudor novels - Wife After Wife (2020) and Sister to Sister (2021) - Olivia has just written a whodunnit based on England's most enduring historical mystery – what happened to the Princes in the Tower? Working title 'Hunch', this new retelling will be out in 2022.

Olivia is, in fact, like her characters - a reimagined version of the truth. Olivia Hayfield is the pseudonym of children's author and book editor Sue Copsey. Olivia is more glamorous and fair bit younger than Sue, and her behaviour is far worse.

Sue has two children and a husband; Olivia probably has lovers and a pedigree cat.

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5 stars
286 (20%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 332 reviews
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,011 reviews15.7k followers
January 28, 2020
Divorced. Murdered. Died. Divorced. Departed. Survived.

This book was bloody brilliant! Olivia Hayfield retells The story of King henry VIII with a modern twist. Engaging and entertaining, packed with glitz, glamour, drama, deceit, revenge, grief, passion, and charm. The concept of the story was so clever and I loved learning some history in a contemporary setting. The story was well researched and Miss Hayfeild inventively brings the story into the 21st century. There were also plenty of pop culture and political references sprinkled throughout the book that added even more authenticity. I found myself frequently heading to Google to find out what had actually happened to Henry and his many wives, and I am just so impressed how creative the storytelling in this book was. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Olivia Hayfeild has plans to write more stories in the same manner. This seriously was such an amazing way to capture and learn about history. I’m not going to go into the plot, it is a book that spans over 30 years with a large cast of characters. It’s a little on the longer side, but it never lost my attention. Harry was a lovable character who I occasionally despised, because his actions at times were questionable at best. The wives we’re all so interesting, strong savvy women who were bewitched by Harry’s charm. Well told, well researched, well done.

this book in emojis 👑 💍 👸🏻 👸🏻 👸🏻 👸🏻 👸🏻 👸🏻

*** Big thank you to Berkley for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own.***
Profile Image for Toni.
515 reviews
January 21, 2020
Olivia Hayfield takes on the challenge of retelling the lifestory of one of the most powerful and notorious English monarchs- that of Henry VIII and his six wives. We’ve all heard about their fate: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived, but what would these marriages have beeen like if Henry Tudor was somehow reincarnated in our times? Would he have been able to get away with the way he treated the women in his life or would he have got his comeuppance?

There is no doubt the book is well-researched. Olivia Hayfield names Antonia Frazer and Alison Weir as well as a number of history websites among her sources of inspiration. There are also numerous pop culture references that help the reader get immersed in London in the 1980s and 1990s. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into how to translate the historical context to make it both entertaining and relevant. For example, Henry’s obsession with begetting a male child and an heir to his kingdom or Henry beheading two of his spouses is impossible to recreate, so the author uses other plot devices: Katie Paragon (Catherine of Aragon) overcomes her severe depression exacerbated by miscarriages and stillbirths and becomes a fertility therapist; stylish Ana Lyebon (Ann Boleyn) is all about ambition and climbing the career ladder… Anki from Cleveland (Anne of Cleves) – I won’t spoil it for you, because the way Olivia Hayfield represented the fourth marriage is ingenious.

The charm of this book lies in discovering how the author reimagines the historical figures and what modern life circumstances she endows them with. Having said that, isn’t it why we love re-tellings in general? Safe in our knowledge of the general direction the story is going to take and the ending, we focus all our attention on the familiar characters in their new environment to see if they will follow their bookish /real life historical destiny or carve their own path. There is a fine line between staying too close to the original with the risk of being called unimaginative and veering so far that the story becomes unrecognizable.

The book is quite long with its 430 pages, but we are talking about a lifetime here, coupled with a very large cast of characters, so the length is quite justified. Similarly, the pace is a bit slow at times, picking up at others. Again, we have to remember that in real life the first marriage of Henry VIII lasted for twenty four years, while the following five marriages happened over fourteen years and ranged in length from three and a half years to six months.

Paradoxically, Henry VIII in his youth was considered handsome, intelligent and charismatic and only later became a ruthless tyrant and philanderer. Olivia Hayfield sets out to investigate why and whether things could have played out differently for him. The real life references the book abounds in extend much further than just pop music and technology. They also include politics, economics (unemployment rate, the financial crisis of 2008, business asset stripping policies that devastated the north of England and many, many more). All of them mirror the external pressures Henry VIII must have faced in his times.

Olivia Hayfield gives her protagonist a chance for redemption, a chance to become a fair businessman and a doting father who values and cherishes all his children, male or female. Whether he takes it or not, you can find out by reading Wife after Wife.

Overall, enjoyable, entertaining, recommended for fans of historical romantic fiction in general and Tudor times in particular.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,089 reviews30.1k followers
February 3, 2020
A cross between Philippa Gregory and Jackie Collins? How fun is that?!

What is Henry VIII was a modern day media mogul?

Harry Rose is on the Forbes list and has just married wife number six. But all things are not perfect for Harry, and his business and personal life are garnering more than their share of media attention in the tabloids.

Wife After Wife is chock-full of fun, and one of my favorite aspects is the pop culture references through the 80s and 90s. As a Tudor aficionado, I LOVED this modern retelling of the often most talked about Tudor. The London setting was also a blast.

The author did a remarkable job presenting all the wives, but the first two captivated me most of all. I would love for Olivia Hayfield to tell us more stories in this vein because it was a riot, and hey, it may get more readers interested in history if they aren’t already. Love love loved it and definitely want to read more from Hayfield.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,912 reviews1,441 followers
June 12, 2020
This is a modern day retelling of Tudor King Henry VIII and his six wives which is set into the context of nearly four decades from the mid 1980’s to 2018 bringing it up to date with the #MeToo movement. Harry Rose is the CEO of the Rose Corporation and has been since he was a young man and under his leadership it is now a huge company. He’s well connected, rich, charismatic and very powerful. The story is told from multiple points of view and makes for one heck of a saga as is the original version.

Much of the book is very entertaining and as you can imagine with the source of inspiration for this novel it is full of drama and has all the essential ingredients of the historical version. There’s womanising and serial cheating (of course), blame and betrayal, so many secrets and lies, tragedy which is overlaid with oodles of glamour. I like how the author has cleverly set the story into the context of the decades which gives it an authentic feel. I love the pop culture references which starts in 1985 with Live Aid. I like too, how much like Henry VIII, Harry has to react to events of the time and make important decisions because both face serious issues in Harrys case one example is the 2008 financial crisis. . The author cleverly interprets what becomes of Harry’s wives since unlike the tyrannical king he cannot imprison them in the Tower of London and execute them as Henry did with two of his. The characters are well portrayed although the focus is principally on Harry. He is easy to dislike but very complex just like the Tudor King and once he makes his mind up he races on much like a runaway train with equally devastating consequences.

However, this book is very long and the pace is uneven and so I found my attention wandering in those places. There are a lot of characters to get your head around and multiple points of view and thus it definitely helps to know the historical background.

Overall, despite the above reservations this is a well written book which is based on one of my favourite periods of history. It is enjoyable, intelligent and creatively interprets the Tudor characters giving it a fresh and modern spin for which I congratulate the author.

With thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Group for the ARC.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
903 reviews776 followers
January 30, 2020
3.75 stars

Henry VIII and his many wives, but modernized and given a few memorable twists. This was a joy to read as a Tudor-era fan, and it had some quirks.

Concept: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Enjoyment: ★★★★

Wife After Wife is exactly as it's billed on the ticket: Henry VIII is Harry Rose, modern-day media mogul, and this is the story of his many wives.

Now, full disclosure, I love any and all things related to the Tudor time period, include modern retellings. So I loved this for the concept alone. But, separate from the concept, I thought the author's decision to place a Henry VIII-type male character was an interesting one in the context of the #MeToo movement.

Harry Rose meets his first wife, Katie—Catherine of Aragon—when he's barely 20 and she's 25. It's the 1980s, and things are going great. Except, that is, for Harry's wandering eye and Katie's fertility issues.

Then Harry meets Merry—Mary Boleyn—when she's married to a closeted gay man and he's still with Katie. Uh oh. A little fun on the side never hurt anyone, right? ...Maybe Katie might disagree.

Ana—Anne Boleyn—is the fashion editor at Harry's company, in charge of running Harry's magazine in the 1990s. So what if she's Merry's sister? Even though Ana's not initially interested in her sister's leftovers, Harry is persistent. And Harry gets what he wants.

And so on...Harry gets what he wants.

The story of Henry VIII and his many wives is relatively popular, so I will stop there at the third famous wife, Anne Boleyn. Now on to some thoughts!

I thought Wife After Wife did a few things incredibly well, including the characterization of all of the women in Harry Rose's life. They were complex, they were products of their decades, and they struggled to maintain a life in the vortex of a supremely powerful and egotistical man.

My problem with Wife After Wife lies with Harry Rose. Harry reads just like Henry VIII to a fault. During the Tudor time period, yes, men could do what they wanted and women just had to take it—they had no agency at all. But in the 1980s? The 1990s? The 2010s? I struggled with Harry's stagnate personality as not only did it not age well with the times, it also became increasingly hard to read his sections. Harry never grew, never changed...he just kept sleeping with all of these women, cheating, lying, and then victim-blaming his wives for problems that were clearly started by him. (Yes, this was a well done portrayal of Henry VIII. But it’s not fun to read.)

Wife After Wife kept this portrayal accurate to the historical reference, but I found it increasingly hard to believe that these women in the 1980s-2010s just let him get away with it, even in their own heads. As we are in the perspectives of each of these women, I suppose I wanted more bite, more push back. This tyrant misogyny works with a king, but I had to suspend my belief further to believe that it worked seamlessly with a more modern couple. I'm not sure if it would have been possible to portray Harry in a satisfying way AND keep him historically referenced, but it did cause a sticking point in my reader enjoyment.

However, other than that this novel was a lot of fun. Let's bring back the Tudors in modern fiction some more—I love it!

Thank you to Berkley for this title in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,259 reviews2,943 followers
April 14, 2020
This book is a modern-day retelling of the lives of Henry VIII and his wives. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the Tudor era, I really enjoyed this one. It was like a fun, trashy soap opera and a great choice to read when I needed a distraction from real life.

As head of the Rose Corporation, Harry Rose is wealthy and hob knobs with the rich and famous. He also has a difficult time keeping it in his pants if you know what I'm saying. The story follows Harry thru the years as well as the different women in his life.

After reading the book including the Author's Note at the end, I am impressed with how much thought and detail went into this story. It was a good mix of the author's imagination and historical facts. I was surprised that so many of the minor characters in the story were also based on historical figures. I think there is enough here to satisfy people like myself with just a basic knowledge of Henry VIII as well as the history buffs.

The book is over 400 pages but I never felt like the story dragged on and on. A lot of ground is covered in regards to Harry's life and even though you have a general idea of what is to come regarding the story, this still managed to be a compelling read. The fact the author didn't make Harry a one-dimensional character helped the story tremendously. And of course the women were equally if not more fascinating to read about as well.

Highly recommend if you are looking for an entertaining read with lots of drama, secrets, lies, betrayal and maybe even a death or two. And I am also thrilled to hear the author has plans for a second book featuring some of Harry's offspring as I'm sure that will be a good read as well.

Profile Image for Denise.
509 reviews359 followers
April 1, 2020
"Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. I'm Henry the Eighth, I had six wives, some might say I ruined their lives." I've always remembered this jingle from grade school, and it definitely played a part in my fascination with the Tudors. As such, I was very curious as to how Henry VIII’s life would translate in today’s time, and I have to say that I thought Hayfield did a pretty good job with it (although no beaheadings!).

Going into it, you know the plot, so there's nothing super surprising about it; but nonetheless, I found myself completely sucked in from page one. Instead of being a king, Harry Rose is a "media king," in the 1980's. The book is told from his POV, and even though you want to loathe him, there is something compelling about him that makes the storyline believable, and at times, I even found myself feeling bad for him. I think he is like many people - he loves the idea of love but once the newness and excitement wears off, he is bored and looking to feel that "high" again. The sad aspect of this (and in "real life"), is that there are unintended consequences to those choices that followed Harry the rest of his life.

I really enjoyed the chapters with his first marriage to Katie - I thought Katie was a spot-on parallel to Catherine of Aragon, and I admired her character. As much as I adored Katie, I found myself the most drawn to second wife, Ana. While I still don't think she was quite Anne Boleyn-tough, Hayfield did a great job of making her a strong, aloof, but still lovable character. I definitely think the book loses some traction after Ana's death. That being said, after two such strong characters, I think it would nearly impossible to match that intensity in the rest of the women. I did still enjoy the chapters focusing on the rest of his wives - with the exception of Janette (who is Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour and rumored to be his favorite wife). I detested her and found her to be the least compelling character, and I didn't get the feeling in any way that she was Harry's favorite wife.

Hayfield put a very creative spin on Anne Cleaves (Henry VIII's fourth wife) with the character of Anki, and with Caitlyn (Catherine Howard). Caitlyn's story was the most tragic, and you couldn't help but loathe Harry as it pertains to Caitlyn. Clare (Catherine Parr) rounded out the wives perfectly, and her character was truly the most interestingly crafted, after Katie and Ana.

I loved how Hayfield included references back to Henry VIII himself, and the parallels were fitting and creative. In the end, Wife After Wife was a fun re-telling of Henry VIII and his wives that I highly recommend to any of my historical/contemporary fiction friends out there. 4 creative, tantalizing stars for Wife After Wife!
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
February 15, 2020
Surprisingly good pop-sugar, Olivia Hayfield has written a book plot that roars across the pages. Thus delivering a tasty mind treat (distraction) for those who want a lighter reading delight. Though not my typical read, I consumed this story with ferocity having to find out what was about to occur next. Or to say in today's common vernacular, simply unputdownable. No doubt, this will be on many year end lists for "fill in the blank prize" book of the year! This is a must read for those looking for an entertaining escape...

Harry Rose inherits a nice little magazine company, Rose Corp. built by his father. Harry and his two sisters have lived a life with little restraint due to the riches accrued by their father, who died young, while Harry was still in High School. Harry's mom had died only a year prior to their father, leaving the children without any guidance going forward. Harry seems to cope fairly well in the business world but he lacks similar wisdom in his relationships. He marries his pregnant girlfriend, Katie at age 22 but seem incapable of remaining faithful to her. Katie is five years his senior and while she embraces motherhood, Harry's main focus is on expanding the business to an empire and unable to resist the lure of bedding attractive women. Harry is seemingly cursed with great looks (think Robert Redford in his prime) and a most charming demeanor. Soon, Ana, an attractive employee at one of Harry's most recent new magazine launch has him obsessed with a desire to conquer but Ana is uninterested (at first). Harry does some rather ugly things to achieve his objective and soon abandons Kate to live with Ana. This pattern is repeated again and again. The details are very intriguing but I don't want to ruin the fun with spoilers.

Harry is a man, the reader grows to increasingly dislike. He is a narcissistic sociopath but he is immune to the pain, he visits upon the chosen women in his life. However, we see his vulnerability and his emptiness as well and each situation that follows is so compellingly written, that despite the havoc he wreaks, he is empathetic and pitiable. Hayfield has masterfully written a character with just enough humanity that we like him despite ourselves. That my friends makes this book so appealing!

The publisher draws a comparison to Jackie Collins works and though I haven't read her stories in more than 3 decades that sounds about right. This book is loosely based on a major player in the British business world of the last 60 years with some added oomph and also parallels the life of Henry the VIII. The deviations that exist make this read particularly realistic and seamless in the telling.

This book has a lot of snap and deserves a place on your "To Be Read" list. I read it in just over 24 hours, so, I urge you without delay to add this before you forget. Go on now, don't let that incoming text distract you (unless you want to post a comment of course). Enjoy!
Profile Image for Cortney -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach.
807 reviews101 followers
March 4, 2020
Wife After Wife has been on my radar for months.... so glad I finally read it!

I loved it. It was well-written, great characters, and a unique and really enjoyable retelling of Henry VIII.

I cannot wait for the sequel!
Profile Image for Olivia Hayfield.
Author 3 books161 followers
December 14, 2022
well yes it may be my own book, but I got to spend a year with Harry and that's a five-star experience
Profile Image for Sharah McConville.
547 reviews20 followers
February 24, 2020
Wife After Wife is a fun, modern retelling of the life of King Henry VIII and his six wives. Olivia Hayfield's book was Books With Heart Book Clubs February pick. Yet again another great choice. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
Profile Image for Laura • lauralovestoread.
1,123 reviews230 followers
December 13, 2019
I know I should be making a dent in my 2019 books, but I was so excited to read 𝙒𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝘼𝙛𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙒𝙞𝙛𝙚, and couldn’t wait any longer to dive in!

I try to limit my knowledge of the synopsis of books so I don’t spoil things for myself going in, but somehow I thought this book would be suspenseful based on the little blurb I did see. However, I was shocked and delighted to discover that it was loosely suspense, and much more of a retelling with romance!

Overall, I loved the retelling aspects of Henry VIII and his many wives, and it was fun to get a modern take on what his life may have been like in today’s times! I loved how the characters names were creatively similar to the original wives and lovers of Henry, and I also loved the pop culture references through the 80’s, 90’s and now.

However, it did feel a bit lengthy there at the end, but it made my historical fiction and romantic heart happy while buddy reading!

ON SALE 1/21/20
*Thank you Berkley pub for this gifted advanced copy!
Profile Image for readwithjamie.
104 reviews132 followers
January 23, 2020
Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

Wife After Wife is must for all Tudor fans & a great intro for those interested in what a modern-day look at the Tudor family could be like. This novel is so cleverly written complete with new names for the historic family members and figures & their personas brought back to life, set in modern-day London.

It’s 2018: Harry Rose is head of Rose Corp. and he’s on his sixth wife. The reader is taken back through time to see how his life got turned upside down with all of his philandering choices. The pacing is fantastic and is narrated through the eyes of Henry and his wives.⁣

I believe Wife After Wife is SUPER entertaining and intriguing to Tudor enthusiasts and contemporary fiction lovers alike, especially Tudorphiles though. I can’t wait for it’s sequel!!

Thank you Berkeley for a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,255 reviews488 followers
January 22, 2020
The story of Henry VIII and his many wives is a fascinating piece of world history. "The Other Boleyn Girl" holds a special place in my heart and introduced me to the genius of Philippa Gregory. That is why I was drawn to this particular title. In this new novel, Olivia Hayfield attempts a formidable task. She brings the story of Henry and his wives into the 21st century along with modern equivalents for many of the other key players. It is my opinion that her attempt is quite successful in accomplishing what others have failed to do -- make Henry VIII relatable while maintaining his larger-than-life and at times ruthless persona. I found it to be a compelling read, although a bit longwinded. I have high hopes for the sequel.

Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Amy Bruestle.
273 reviews204 followers
June 22, 2020
I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

I have to say, before reading the back cover or “premise” of the book, I was pulled in by the cover art. It made me think of suspense and forbidden love. I wasn’t far off, either! Although the first half of the book was mainly just about the day to day lives of the characters, while the second half got more in depth with the action (no specifics because i didn’t want to give anything away). The end was my favorite half! I also liked how the author added in the relation to history and included the character sheet in the back of the book so you could see who each character represented, if they represented anyone at all. I feel like i learned a lot too! Fun read for sure!
Profile Image for Kate Vocke (bookapotamus).
565 reviews118 followers
February 26, 2020
WIFE AFTER WIFE loosely follows the story of Henry VIII - and ALL the wives. The parallels are definitely there and it’s sort of a fun way to learn the history of his story with some modern twists. ⁣

Harry Rose is a handsome, charming media mogul in modern day London and his story spans 30 years as he just piles on the wives through his womanizing exploits. I loved Harry just as much as I hated him and it was a clever contemporary spin that tells the story though not only Harry but all of his wives as well.⁣

What happens to those all those ex-wives? Well, just like Henry the VIII there are secrets, betrayals and of course, plenty of tragedy… you’ll just have to read to find out!⁣
Profile Image for Lindsey.
455 reviews762 followers
April 1, 2022
Loved this current day retelling of Henry VIII. The parallels between historic events and what Olivia did to mimic them in the book were spot on. Also loved all of the pop culture references from the 80s and 90s.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,265 reviews331 followers
January 17, 2020
Wife After Wife is a modernized retelling of Henry VIII, and it was such an interesting concept. I feel like the story worked well with the updates, and it was an entertaining read. It is on the slower side, and felt a little long at times, but it held my interest.

This book is full of drama, and I loved seeing how everything played out. Sometimes it was difficult to spend so much time with Harry because he's very often a misogynistic creeper, and I wish that most of the wives would have been a little more developed. It was like watching a trainwreck to read about Harry getting involved with each them, and you just couldn't look away. I think Wife After Wife would be a really good vacation read, and I had fun reading it. Thank you to Berkley Pub for sending me a copy. This one will be out on 1/21.

CW - miscarriages, infertility, cheating, drug addiction, suicide, misogyny, sexual harassment
Profile Image for Dianne.
1,541 reviews120 followers
January 24, 2020
Updated review after finishing the book: actually this is the third revision: Now that I have had time to read the other reviews and read some of the comments and who the comments are from-I have to wonder about some of these reviews.

I see that I am in a very tiny minority about how I feel about this book, but I just have to tell the truth as I see it.

I am having such difficulty getting through this book, maybe because I don't know anything about King Henry the VIII (except for Anne of a Thousand Days -the movie!). You don't need to know your British History to read this. However, this book is a frustrating and disgusting look at a man who can't keep it in his pants and has ruined so many lives and the spineless, heartless women who couldn't "resist" him *ugh*.

I can see the parallels between Harry's life and Henry's life and I do understand British history enough to know that Henry did what he did for an heir. It is just difficult for me to have compassion or even care about a man in recent history to behave the same way. Unfortunately, the way this book reads, Harry didn't do it for such a reason (an heir) he did it because he was a horny, uncaring bastard.

I haven't quite finished this book (I did finish it) ...and I'm not so sure that I care to know what will happen to Harry in the last quarter of the book, but I'm close and I will update this review and the rating as needed if curiosity gets the best of me and I do finish. ( I finished the book and it does get a bit compelling towards the end...a bit of a page-turner to see if Harry will get his comeuppance -well he does and he doesn't if you can understand what I mean.

I do need to say that the author did pick a perfect time in history to make this parallel- the" Greed is Good" era.

ARC Supplied by Publisher
Profile Image for Jenna Bookish.
181 reviews97 followers
February 4, 2020
Rather boring and not what I expected. The synopsis suggested something that dealt with the fallout of Harry's bad behavior a lot more than this did. Mainly it was a long-winded retelling of each of his wives over the course of many years. None of the characters were engaging enough to sustain this kind of storytelling. While the narrative does eventually hit the point of Harry facing some consequences, it's tacked onto the very end and rather insubstantial.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
2,173 reviews83 followers
January 27, 2020
Reviewed for Wit and Sin

Wife After Wife is a fresh and imaginative retelling of the story of Henry VIII and his wives. I wasn’t sure how such an expansive story would work when whittled down to one book, but Olivia Hayfield manages it wonderfully, getting the spirit of the real life inspiration and events right while modernizing the story. Spanning from the 1980s to 2018, Wife After Wife is by turns entertaining and tragic.

Whether you know Tudor history or not, this book stands on its own, which is a mark of a good reimagining. Harry Rose’s journey from wealthy playboy to aging mogul facing the music in the modern area is as breezy and frustrating as the man himself. Harry has charm and self-esteem to spare, but he also has this irritating ability to absolve himself of any wrongdoing. Whether it’s cheating on a wife or something even worse, Harry always manages to make himself the victim or the hero, depending on the situation. He’s not a likeable character, but he’s a compelling one and you can see why each of his wives are drawn to him. Ms. Hayfield does a fantastic job with Katie (Catherine of Aragon), Harry’s first wife. She’s an honest-to-goodness kind and generous woman. She’s not saintly, nor is she perfect, and her battles with loss and depression broke my heart. She’s a well-drawn, complex character who is easy to adore and she has a core of strength and kindness which make her shine. Equally well-drawn is Ana (Anne Boleyn). She’s talented, whip-smart, and ambitious. I have a huge soft spot for Anne Boleyn, so it was incredibly easy for me to love Ana. As with her real-life counterpart, I loved and hated her trajectory, watching Harry pursue her and know she was going to give in. I pretty much hated Harry than during Ana’s time in the spotlight, but I did enjoy their tumultuous relationship until its tragic end.

Wife After Wife loses some steam after Ana is out of the picture, which is a pity. But I did love how Ms. Hayfield brought to life the rest of Harry’s wives, with the notable exception of Janette (Jane Seymour), who I found unbearably obnoxious. Anki was a fun and creative spin on Anne of Cleves and Clare (Catherine Parr) rounded out the wives perfectly. The most compelling of the latter four wives was Caitlyn (Catherine Howard). She was the most interestingly crafted alongside Katie and Ana; everything about her storyline broke my heart and once again I found myself loathing Harry. To say he’s an imperfect character would be an understatement, but Ms. Hayfield does an incredible job of blending the loathsome with the charming, creative, and sometimes loving man.

Wife After Wife is a delightfully creative retelling of history. The life and times of each decade really blend well with the story – more so than I ever could have imagined. All in all, the larger-than-life characters made this an entertaining read and I definitely would love to read more about Harry and Ana’s daughter, Eliza.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,817 reviews
December 20, 2019
Wife After Wife is a modern retelling based on the life and marriages of Henry VIII.

The book starts with a cast of characters list telling the reader who everybody is supposed to be (in this book vs in Henry VIII's life). The list with the rest of the cast of characters is at the end of the book. I thought that this was a very interesting idea. And a good way to help the reader see the connections between the book and the original characters that they are based on.

The book has many 3rd person POVs. The main narrator is Harry. But every woman in his life narrates certain chapters. The story starts in 2018. But then goes back to 1985 and moves forward in time until we reach the present (2018).

The main character of Henry VIII is Harry Rose. He is a womanizing media mogul.

The premise of this book sounded very original and different. And the cover was pretty. However it took me quite a while to become invested in the story. I didn't love that Harry was the main narrator. And I didn't love that the book immediately went back 30+ years. I also didn't love that there were so many narrators. It made it difficult to really connect to any of them.

I guess it made sense to show Harry's whole life. But I was expecting more of the story to take place in the present. And almost none of it did.

This book was really not what I was expecting.

There were definitely some interesting developments. And I did enjoy the second half of the book much more. But I didn't love the way the story was told.

Thanks to edelweiss and Berkley for allowing me to read this book.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,074 reviews183 followers
January 30, 2020
I wanted to read this book because it was modeled after King Henry VIII. I was briefly obsessed with learning about this historical figure and his wives but really became more when The Tudors, the television show aired back on Showtime.

All I could picture were the cast of the television show as the characters in this book. Which I am not complaining as I have a crush on Jonathan Rhys Meyers. So, that helped a lot. While I did appreciate the author's modern retelling of this story; I felt like it should have just stayed in the present. The back and forth from past to present was a bit much and not required in my mind. Plus, if this book had been just modern, it would have helped me to separate the past better.

Harry is definitely a womanizer. He is the type of guy that women may want to sleep with but they should not marry or date. Thus the trail of wives that Harry leaves behind. There was a lot of time spent on each woman. The story could have spent some less time on their stories and still been good. Overall, I did not like this book. However, I am willing to give this author another try.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,831 reviews1,862 followers
February 17, 2020

A modern retelling of Henry VIII just sounded really interesting and cool to me, I’ve been trying to branch out and read some different sounding books lately and this definitely fit the bill. Admittedly I don’t know much beyond the basic information about Henry VIII but it wasn’t necessary for me to enjoy this one.

This follows Harry Rose from the eighties all the way up to 2018 and you hear from him and all of his wives throughout the book. There were so many great pop culture references sprinkled throughout and it added some wit and charm to the story. The wives themselves were all so different, I found each of them fascinating and I was especially intrigued that Harry really didn’t have a true type, he was a classic womanizer who’s taste changed over and over again through the years. While I liked this, it wasn’t amazing for me and it’s mainly due to the pacing and length. It’s on the long side, which is fine, but there were many more pages spent on the details about the first few wives than the last couple and it made the ending feel a little rushed and abrupt. Overall though it was entertaining for me, I just wish it had been more evenly paced the whole time.
Profile Image for Basic B's Guide.
966 reviews301 followers
January 17, 2020
Wife After Wife

“I'm Henry the eighth I am
Henry the eighth I am, I am
I got married to the widow next door
She's been married seven times before”

A modern retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives? Sign me up! You may not know this about me, but I used to be obsessed with The Tudor family. After my book club read “The Other Boleyn Girl”, 10 years ago, we went to a Tudor history talk at a nearby castle (so fun!) and then became obsessed with watching The Tudors on HBO. Its been over 10 years but it wasn’t long until the history and “cast of characters” all flooded my fond memories.

I don’t read many retellings and honestly, I think the only one I’ve read recently was The Winters (based on Rebecca) last year. I think it helped that the retelling is a retelling of history and not of a book that I hold such high esteem to.

Wife After Wife’s modern spin was highly entertaining. I found myself giggling and googling throughout the book. I loved the setting (London), the 80’s pop and culture references, the spin on the wives’ fates (divorced, beheaded, died and divorced, beheaded, survived) and I was a huge fan of the character development for Katie aka Catherine of Aragon. She has always been my favorite of the wives.

I don’t think you need to know the history behind The Tudor family to enjoy this one. The index at the front for the cast of characters makes it easy to see the correlation. The book is over 400 pages and I do think it was too long. The pacing was off on this one and I think it would have been better suited if it was presented as a series rather than trying to cram all the wives into one book.

This was the perfect lighthearted read to settle into after American Dirt. I’m so glad I gave it a go.

3.5 stars

Profile Image for Elaine.
1,516 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2022
When I first read the premise of Wife After Wife, I was intrigued.

I first learned the Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived rhyme from an episode of Histeria!

And, people say you don't learn anything from cartoons.

But, after I finished reading, I couldn't help but wonder, "What's the point?"

The author retells the life of King Henry the VIII in the form of Harry Rose, billionaire media mogul who can't keep his wiener in his pants and plows through a succession of wives in the modern age.

There is decent exposition on each wife, yet I felt no connection to anyone, much less Rose.

In the end, I felt no sympathy or empathy for Harry and what he had gone through; he didn't seem to care about his womanizing ways nor fully understand how his mistreatment led to his own destruction and failure as a human being.

There was an inordinate amount of sex scenes that was neither sexy or gratifying.

I guess the author wanted to make the tone of the book more soap opera-y when, in fact, I was hoping the narrative would be more serious.

I did like the ending where Rose's daughters take the helm of the the company to usher it into a new age, but the entire narrative read as false and unrealistic from the start.

If you're looking for a good read about one of Henry the VIII's wives, I'd recommend The Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory.

The second star is for the ending.
Profile Image for Katie.
2,647 reviews143 followers
February 16, 2020
I'm not sure how I feel about this book--let's see if I figure it out!

It's one of those retellings where what it's retelling still existed, so there were references to the actual Henry VII and his wives, which didn't really work for me.

The book started out feeling TOO close to the true story (modern retelling or not!), but once we got ot Ana (Anne Boleyn), the story started feeling more like it's own thing. I did like the cast of women (both the wives and others), but there was still a LOT of time in Harry's head and I'm not sure I ever did like him much.

Anyway, it was okay!!! I AM intrigued by the sequel Hayfield mentions at the end of the book!
Profile Image for Debbie.
885 reviews83 followers
March 28, 2020
This one was described as a modern take on the life and marriages of Henry VIII, if he were a 21st century womanising media mogul. 

Harry Rose is the head of the Rose Corporation, number eighteen on Forbes rich list.
I don't read many retellings, but this one was so enjoyable. While some of the topics were serious, such as infertility, Hayfield wrote in such a fun and light manner that kept the story interesting. There was divorce, death, drama and even murder, which kept the pages turning. Really enjoyable. 
Profile Image for Jessica.
809 reviews
January 27, 2020
Clearly, none of the figures or situations translate perfectly to the modern period. Court life in the Tudor period looks quite different from life in 2020. However, Hayfield pulls out aspects and key moments of each wife’s story to make a modern Tudor masterpiece. The traits that the wives have historically been dragged for are their strongest assets in Wife After Wife. Anne Boleyn is routinely accused of being scheming and calculating to steal Henry from Catherine. Ana Lyebon uses her wit and intelligence to advance her impressive career. (I won’t get into any specifics so it isn’t spoiled!) These women all feel like modern women that any of us would work with or be friends with, not caricatures for a t-shirt.

Certain things are changed, because sometimes it just wouldn’t be realistic in the modern period. For example, Caitlyn Howe/Catherine Howard isn’t underage at the time of their relationship. I appreciated that Hayfield made these changes. Had she not, I think it would have begged belief too much, and ruined it. The secondary characters, ie. Charles Brandon, Megan Rose/Mary Tudor, also receive modern updates. Their roles in the story don’t change much, and they work well with Harry Rose.

Other than the obvious names and figures, there are some fantastic nods to the real Tudors. Hampton Court Palace takes centre stage for part of the book, and Hans Holbein happens to be Harry Rose’s favourite artist. (You may even read about Henry VIII and his wives…) I’m incredibly impressed with Hayfield’s ability to recreate the past in the present. I don’t know that I’ve ever had this many “CLEVER!” moments in a book before. I could see how Wife After Wife might look like light-hearted fluff at first glance. However, it is a heart felt and intelligent telling of some of the most infamous historical figures.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,537 reviews121 followers
February 1, 2020
What if King Henry VIII lived in modern times? How would his womanizing and philandering ways be influenced by the strong, modern women in his life? Find out in this rollicking tale richly imagined by author Olivia Hayfield!

Modern day Henry, known as Harry in this book, is a media mogul and "King" of Rose Corp. He loves women and, despite his constant cheating and misogynistic ways, women can't help but fall for his good looks and charismatic personality.

"You have to make allowances for boys, 'cause they're generally rubbish. That especially applies to over privileged upper-class arsehole boys... But there's something about Harry."

Spanning decades from 1985 to 2018, this ambitious story paralleled real-life Henry's life and marriages in many ways. I personally loved how popular people, songs, and things appropriate to the times were sprinkled here and there. Throughout all of the twists, turns, and bad decisions Harry made, his "It's Complicated" relationship status remained a constant. It'll also make you wonder more than once ... is the old adage "All's fair in love and war." really true?

This steamy, drama-laden story about a rich, successful, handsome man behaving badly reminded me of a classic Jackie Collins novel. If you're looking for a light, highly entertaining read (although a bit too long, in my opinion), this is it. Now, how soon until I can get my hands on the sequel, Sister to Sister?

Location: London, England

I received an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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