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Non-Fiction > Group Read (June/July) - The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

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message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Come here to discuss our non-fiction group read for June/July.


message 2: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11330 comments Mod
Looking forward to starting this.


message 3: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments My library has a copy of this, so I may join in. This isn't my type of book though, so we'll see...


message 4: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Today visiting Dael castle I read a chart about Henry VIII faiting with the popes for his divorce and I've suddenly realised that one of them was Pope Paolo III Farnese, the very one who build Palazzo Farnese in Rome - the french abassy now- and the Rocca Paolina in Perugia! I hope I can fine more informations in this book, at least up to Anne Boleyn


B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Ok, have requested this from library.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Looks like we should have quite a good group reading. I'll need to get on and finish Middlesex to focus on this in June


message 7: by Katherine (new)

Katherine | 59 comments I'm looking forward with anticipation... though I'll admit I don't often read non-fiction with a group. Should be fun.


message 8: by Gemma (new)

Gemma (gemmagem20) | 454 comments I have reserved this at the library. Really like the sound of this one.


message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) I am really curious about this one. Ordered from the library.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman Well read Library copy now sitting on my reading table. (Along with 16 companions, but who's counting?) I discovered that at least one patron at our library uses bobby pins for bookmarks.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I also have a well-read library copy. I dipped into it tonight and I quite like the author's tone and style. This should be a good read.


message 12: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Waiting for my library copy; this will be my first Antoni a Fraser but looking forward to it after my foray into the Tudor series by Philippa Gregory.

How I taught myself to remember these women: two Katherines, two Annes and two Janes.


message 13: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Terri wrote: "I also have a well-read library copy. I dipped into it tonight and I quite like the author's tone and style. This should be a good read."

What's a weel-read library???


message 14: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments LauraT wrote: "Terri wrote: "I also have a well-read library copy. I dipped into it tonight and I quite like the author's tone and style. This should be a good read."

What's a weel-read library???"


I think Terri might mean 'much read' as in well thumbed or read by many.


message 15: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments This will be a good companion to my On This Day in Tudor History :)

And I think that I will use it as my nonfiction book for Europe in our Around-the-World challenge!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Oops--I'm so embarrassed...

I've finished the first section, on Catherine of Aragon. (I'm more used to the spelling Katherine.) It's been interesting, though sometimes I get confused on the titles and relationships. Catherine and Henry both came alive for me. I find the comments on the place and role of women so interesting.


message 17: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Reading it now. I'm quite liking it.
I didn't know that you could not drink water in England those years! Water as always meant England to me!!!!


message 18: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Although it may not be mentioned here, I remember reading that Anne Boleyn's sister used to check Anne's hair for lice before a visit to Henry. Lice! I never thought about Royals having lice.


message 19: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Bette BookAddict wrote: "Although it may not be mentioned here, I remember reading that Anne Boleyn's sister used to check Anne's hair for lice before a visit to Henry. Lice! I never thought about Royals having lice."

They were full of these things!!! Give a look at the poem by John Donne http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/...
They also tended not to wash themselves a lot - and use a lot of perfumes!!!


message 20: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11330 comments Mod
LauraT wrote: "Reading it now. I'm quite liking it.
I didn't know that you could not drink water in England those years! Water as always meant England to me!!!!"


No. It was really only in the Georgian Era things were done about the water supply.


message 21: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "No. It was really only in the Georgian Era things were done about the water supply."

That's for stereotypes!

Still reading Catherine of Aragon: I didn't know she was blond! I had falsely assumed she was dark as most spanish women!!!


message 22: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Bette BookAddict wrote: "Although it may not be mentioned here, I remember reading that Anne Boleyn's sister used to check Anne's hair for lice before a visit to Henry. Lice! I never thought about Royals having lice."

No one bathed very often then so it doesn't surprise me (does make me happy to live in the 21 century!)...


message 23: by LauraT (last edited Jun 06, 2014 12:10AM) (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "No one bathed very often then so it doesn't surprise me (does make me happy to live in the 21 century!)... "

There are several stories on this fact that even if we say that "we were better off before" in the end we live better now! I've listened ot one of this some months ago in a Dickens collection, when a man complaining of his times is checked by a statue - cant' remember whos - who demonstrated that all the periods he was thinking had its own big problems.
When I think about it the first thing that gets into my mind is runnig water.
I had a professor in University who once was talking about "comunist revolution" in our days. He said that it was out of sense because no one was keen in undergoing all deprivations that a real comunist revolution would mean, at least in the beginning. He said - and I agree - that nowadays hotwater is considered a "valore". I don't know exactly how to translate this word; it is "merit" or "Virtue". It means something you can't live without in you personal setting, like onor for chivalry code or pureness for catholic women ...


message 24: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Well, I have given up -- I read the first 4 chapters or so (~90 pgs) but wasn't enjoying it.

@Laura, I was also surprised the Catherine of Aragon was blonde (I guess what we call a "strawberry blond" -- reddish blonde). I wonder whether their daughter Mary was blonde as well...


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm about 75% done with this book. I've found it fascinating, but then I'm a bit of an Anglophile. The characters, Henry in particular, have come very much alive for me. I love all the details of life during this historical era.


message 26: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Terri wrote: "I'm about 75% done with this book. I've found it fascinating, but then I'm a bit of an Anglophile. The characters, Henry in particular, have come very much alive for me. I love all the details of l..."

Terri, you gotta read the Tudor series by Philippa Gregory then!


message 27: by Christine (new)

Christine (inhalesbookslikepopcorn) Got my book - I hope I can start soon but June is a crazy month.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

I started this last night and I found the first chapter very interesting. It's interesting how so many of the Royal families are linked by blood/marriage. I am also impressed with Isabella as it was highly unusual for a woman to have any power in those days


message 29: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
A bit behind. Hope to be able of catching up soon


message 30: by B the BookAddict (last edited Jun 18, 2014 12:12PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments I've finally started this and I'm really happy with it so far. I think Antonia Fraser is a seriously good writer; sometimes this sort of book can be dry and dusty but the writing isn't like that at all. I feel really connected to the characters.

I tossed up with watching The Tudors series for a second time while I read this but it's more Henry himself than his wives so decided not too. I also thought it might skew my interpretation of the wives. I have re-discovered about myself that give me facts from history and I will dive in wholeheartedly; the more I know, the more I want to know. Reminds me how I nearly became the eternal student; I'm a learning-sponge.


message 31: by Alice (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) I've also just started and found Antonia Fraser's writing quite congenial. I get absorbed from the start :) despite the fact that I know very little about English history.


message 32: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Bette BookAddict wrote: "I've finally started this and I'm really happy with it so far. I think Antonia Fraser is a seriously good writer; sometimes this sort of book can be dry and dusty but the writing isn't like that a..."

Alice wrote: "I've also just started and found Antonia Fraser's writing quite congenial. I get absorbed from the start :) despite the fact that I know very little about English history."

I do agree. I'm finding her writing style quite smooth ...


message 33: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11330 comments Mod
I was just wondering, how much did everyone know about each wife before starting this book?

I had taken an interest in Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. I didn't know much about the other four, these sections in the book were probably the most interesting for me as I didn't have much knowledge beforehand.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

My only knowledge comes from a bit of school knowledge and reading That Other Boleyn Girl, so very little!


message 35: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11330 comments Mod
I don't think I ever studied Henry VIII at school. Most of my knowledge did come from my own research after reading Philippa Gregory's Tudor Series, including The Other Boleyn Girl.


message 36: by B the BookAddict (last edited Jun 19, 2014 12:57PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Alannah, I have very recently (last fortnight) read The Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory which taught me a lot.

But god, Fraser's attention to detail is amazing. Not only does she tell you about the women themselves, she goes in-depth into their family and social positions; how they came to Henry's notice etc. I don't even have to run to Google for more information - it's all there!

I'm at pg 287 of Vol 1 of a Large Print version.


message 37: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments If our next non-fiction read is about a person in history, I will definitely be joining in!


message 38: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11330 comments Mod
Bette BookAddict wrote: "Alannah, I have very recently (last fortnight) read The Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory which taught me a lot.

But god, Fraser's attention to detail is amazing. Not only does she tell you ..."


I know, that is what I really liked about this book.


message 39: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "I was just wondering, how much did everyone know about each wife before starting this book?

I had taken an interest in Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. I didn't know much about the other four,..."


Exactly the same! I remember seein a film when really young which title was something like Anne on 1000 days (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_of_...). Almost all I know of Anne Boleyn comes from there. After her and Catherin I didn't even know the names of the other wives!


message 40: by B the BookAddict (last edited Jun 20, 2014 01:18PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments @Laura 3 x Catherine, 2 x Anne and 1 x Jane. That's how I remember it. We didn't study this at school so I didn't learn the "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived" jingle.

Thank you, another film for me to see! And with Richard Burton!


message 41: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Bette BookAddict wrote: "@Laura 3 x Catherine, 2 x Anne and 1 x Jane. That's how I remember it. We didn't study this at school so I didn't learn the "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived" jingle.

Thank..."


I didn't learn that jingle until this book! So is the order:
Catherine, Anne, Jane, Catherine, Anne, Catherine ?


message 42: by B the BookAddict (last edited Jun 20, 2014 01:59PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Leslie wrote: "Bette BookAddict wrote: "@Laura 3 x Catherine, 2 x Anne and 1 x Jane. That's how I remember it. We didn't study this at school so I didn't learn the "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded,..."

No, Catherine, Anne, Jane, Anne, Katherine, Catherine.


message 43: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11330 comments Mod
Divorced, beheaded and died,
Divorced, beheaded, survived,
I'm Henry VIII, I had six sorry wives,
Some might say I ruined their lives.

http://www.schooltube.com/video/123d1...


message 44: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments @Alannah lol, hahaha! thank you, most entertaining.


message 45: by Alice (last edited Jun 20, 2014 05:41PM) (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) My knowledge of Henry VIII and his 6 queens came from some film I saw ages ago (the film title is "Young Bess") starring Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons as Princess Elizabeth and Deborah Kerr as Catherine Parr. I also saw the movie "Elizabeth" starring Kate Blanchette, which impressed me deeply, especially when she played the young Elizabeth (daughter of Ann Boleyne).

I'm on Chapter 3 of Part 1 now. I find the author is quite meticulous with historical background details, which effort should be commended. But I can't help wondering how much is truth and how much is conjecture where depiction of emotions, feelings and attitudes of the royal characters is concerned :)


message 46: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "Divorced, beheaded and died,
Divorced, beheaded, survived,
I'm Henry VIII, I had six sorry wives,
Some might say I ruined their lives.

http://www.schooltube.com/video/123d1..."


Great one!


message 47: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Alice wrote: "My knowledge of Henry VIII and his 6 queens came from some film I saw ages ago (the film title is "Young Bess") starring Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons as Princess Elizabeth and Deborah Kerr as Cath..."

Alice, If you read the Philippa Gregory Tudor Court novels, you would see heaps of conjecture. I am finding Fraser refreshingly too the point and quite unemotional. Remember as a historian, she is relying on written accounts i.e. accounts and opinions laid down by people of that time e.g. ambassadors etc. So in that case, we are always relying simply on people's versions of the truth as do all historians. But I think ( and I'm not an expert ) that historians take all written accounts and then use the most common theme in all reports - but I could be wrong there.


message 48: by Alice (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) Bette BookAddict wrote: "Alice wrote: "My knowledge of Henry VIII and his 6 queens came from some film I saw ages ago (the film title is "Young Bess") starring Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons as Princess Elizabeth and Debora..."

You have a point there, Bette. If we can't trust historians, who else can we trust! In this respect, Chinese history has the same problem. There are so many "unofficial accounts" related to empresses and courtesans in the ancient dynasties that are so popular with readers that we take them as half truths at least or what we call "野史" (unofficial history).


message 49: by B the BookAddict (last edited Jun 21, 2014 12:10PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Alice wrote: "Bette BookAddict wrote: "Alice wrote: "My knowledge of Henry VIII and his 6 queens came from some film I saw ages ago (the film title is "Young Bess") starring Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons as Prin..."

Alice, it scares me a little that if historical truths are taken from what is written, what will people in 300 years time think about us with all our celebrity focus/mania/chat. Will they think for example that Beyonce, or worse, the Kardashians might have been truly people? Scary.


message 50: by Katherine (last edited Jun 21, 2014 01:46PM) (new)

Katherine | 59 comments Regarding the topic of historical truth being taken from what is written, there's been an ongoing controversy about Richard III for years which stems from that very thing.

Supposedly when the Tudors gained the throne, with the shift of power, it became dangerous to express any view not in keeping with their particular view of "reality." Even historians of the day were influenced by who was in power so their accounts may not be as unbiased as might be hoped.

For example, from Wikipedia:

During Richard's reign, the historian John Rous praised him as a "good lord" who punished "oppressors of the commons", adding that he had "a great heart". After his death, Richard's image was tarnished by propaganda fostered by his Tudor successors (who sought to legitimise their claim to the throne), culminating in the famous portrayal of him in Shakespeare's play Richard III as a physically deformed machiavellian villain, albeit courageous and witty, cheerfully committing numerous murders in order to claw his way to power. Rous himself, in his History of the Kings of England, written during Henry VII's reign, initiated the process. He reversed his earlier position, and now portrayed Richard as a freakish individual who was born with teeth and shoulder-length hair after having been in his mother's womb for two years. His body was stunted and distorted, with one shoulder higher than the other, and he was "slight in body and weak in strength". Rous also attributes the murder of Henry VI to Richard, and claims that he poisoned his own wife. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_...

And from another article of interest:
Modern historical fiction writers, in general, do endless research to capture the period about which they are writing as it really was. But Shakespeare, who is by far the person most repsonsible for Richard’s reputation, felt no such compunction. In order to create dramatic tension, Shakespeare used poetic license to collapse time, bring characters back from exile, and transform three-year-old Richard into a middle-aged soldier. If playgoers accepted Shakespleare’s history plays as dramatic fiction, which for the most part, they are, there would be no problem. For centuries, however, the English have learned their history through Shakespeare’s plays. The Duke of Marlborough once said that Shakespeare was the only history he ever read. That, perhaps, is the tragedy, as Norrie Epstein suggests in her book, The Friendly Shakespeare. “In some cases, Shakespeare’s fictional accounts of people and events have become more real than actual history. More people know Richard III as the hunchback villain of Shakespeare’s play than the real Richard, who by all accounts was a rather nice man.” http://www.r3.org/on-line-library-tex...

I just wanted to point out that even when reading accounts that are considered historically accurate what is being portrayed may still not represent truth, but is rather "reality" after it's been subjected to the influences of the time as well as the particular bent of the individual historian.


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