Friday, 13 February 2015

Book: The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Frank Bukowski

One of the most famous Kings of English history, Henry VIII; famous for having multiple wives and for reforming the church in England in a move that had never before been seen in England. But what if there was more to the King than that? What were his wives really like, and how many children did he have? What were his real reasons for breaking with the church?

Link to Goodreads
Link to Amazon

This should be clear before I begin that this is a satirical work of fiction and is (most definitely not) the truth about Henry VIII, or his wives. There were certain events that can be in no way proven in the book, as well as some that didn’t actually happen as stated (i.e. the poet Thomas Wyatt survived the downfall of Anne Boleyn, whereas in this book he was executed alongside the others accused).

I’m not really too sure what I made of The Six Wives of Henry VIII in places it had me laughing and in places I was just kind of ‘what???’. One of the latter moments happened every time that Henry VIII was described as being so well endowed that he caused damage to his wives’ reproductive organs (happened several times). I mean yes satirically making fun of Henry VIII sexually makes sense…but still.

What I did like was the way that the wives were described, and in some ways turned the stereotypes on their heads. Katherine of Aragon wasn’t just devout but she did enjoy sex, Anne Boleyn was frigid, Jane Seymour a bit sadistic, Anne of Cleves was beautiful, Katherine Howard was a slut (well ok that one wasn’t changing the viewpoint) and Katherine Parr was tactical (again I don’t think this one is necessarily a change). I mainly liked the changes done to Anne of Cleves, mainly cause I don’t imagine her as bad as Henry VIII reported anyway, but some of the changes didn’t really work for him divorcing her for Katherine Howard.

The style of writing was also interesting. It was kind of conversational, a bit like if it was historically accurate, but then at points it compared things to modern ideas. But in contrast the characters all spoke with ‘doth’ and ‘liketh’ and it was actually quite annoying.

This book kept me intrigued enough to continue reading, but I’m still not sure what to actually make of it.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII counts towards Winter COYER (if you take the US price which I have as amazon prices are all set in dollars).