Kelly A.'s Reviews > The Autobiography Of Henry VIII: With Notes By His Fool, Will Somers

The Autobiography Of Henry VIII by Margaret George
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's review
Dec 20, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: some-i-own, since-may-2009, 1500s, historical-fiction

I've read countless books about Tudor England, the majority focused on Henry VIIIs wives. I've heard the same stories dozens of times, but they never, ever get old. In these countless books, Henry is almost always portrayed as a tyrannical, mad, lusty old fat guy. He is written to be evil and disliked, the antagonist of his own realm. In this book, Margaret George took on one of the biggest challenges ever: to write the life story of this infamous king - all from his point of view, actually giving him a chance to defend himself. My first impression was suspicion and doubt that that could ever be done, but boy, did she pull it off.

The book is written in memoir form. The actual diary is being sent from Henry's fool, Will Somers, to his illegitimate daughter, Catherine Knollys (the niece of Anne Boleyn). Will Somers throws in some quirky little thoughts now and then, which is quite enjoyable. Henry's memoir starts from his early childhood as the overlooked second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and runs all the way to shortly before his death, when he is the ailing King of England and on his sixth wife.

My favorite aspect of this book was how it changed my view of Henry. Margaret George's Henry VIII is not obsessed with women or heirs, like we've seen before; this Henry is mostly focused on his struggles with religion. We find logical reasons for why Henry did some of the tyrannical things he did (though they may just be speculations). I actually sympathized with this man in some parts.

You might think that in order to read a detailed memoir of a famous king who ruled for many years you would need to previously know a lot about him or this time period. Well, you don't. His family history, wars, famous people of the day and customs are all explained to you by Henry (Why? I don't know.) As usual with a Margaret George book, The Autobiography of Henry VIII is HUGE! It may be 900-plus pages, but don't be daunted! The reading actually passed very quickly for me, as I was enjoying it so much. I wish I could give it more, but 5 stars will have to be sufficient for now!

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Reading Progress

December 20, 2009 – Shelved
December 20, 2009 – Shelved as: some-i-own
December 27, 2009 –
page 117
December 28, 2009 –
page 277
29.72% "He is making a pros and cons list for Anne Boleyn. He really likes her hair."
December 29, 2009 –
page 526
Started Reading
January 1, 2010 –
page 895
January 1, 2010 – Shelved as: since-may-2009
January 1, 2010 – Finished Reading
February 2, 2010 – Shelved as: 1500s
July 27, 2010 – Shelved as: historical-fiction

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Orsolya I unfortunately did not enjoy this as much as you did :(

Kelly A. Oh no! Have you read any others by her? I read the one about Mary, Queen of Scots and definitely didn't like it as much as this one.

Orsolya I would have liked it much better, had I read it years ago before I was well-versed on the topic as I am now.

No, I haven't. I have the Mary one and her recent Elizabeth one on my to-read shelf but I may now due to my unhappiness with this novel. What didn't you like about the Mary book? Was it boring? Inaccurate?

Kelly A. I think I'd feel the same way, this was one of the first Henry VIII books I'd ever read - it was all new and fresh to me.

Mary isn't really my favorite person to read about anyways, so I'm sort of biased. It's actually VERY accurate, so I'd bet you'd like it. The book just seemed to drag on forever to me.

Orsolya Mary is one of my favorites and I DO love accuracy, so you are right that I may enjoy it :) Her work does seem to drag out, though, so I have a feeling I would do some scanning. I will eventually read it, just not in the immediate future.

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