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There have been several individual biographies written of the six wives of Henry VIII.  Here, Alison Weir has pulled all of their stories together, and has created a biography of all six women, and their marriages to King Henry.  The events are told in chronological detail, which is a great help, as the timeline for his marriages can sometimes seem confusing!

Alison Weir writes so fluidly and eloquently that despite the huge amount of facts crammed into this story – dates, names, places – it never gets boring.  All the details are here, but the book never feels bogged down in them.  Indeed, it is such an engaging story that it sometimes reads almost like a novel.  As well as the six very different women who he married, the book also gives huge insight into Henry’s reign, and offers a more realistic portrayal of the man, rather than the gluttonous lech that he is often portrayed as.  As cold hearted a man as Henry VIII could undoubtedly be, it is worth remembering the times in which he lived, when such things that seem abominable to us today, were viewed as quite normal.  It is also clear that he could be a very generous and charismatic man, and that certainly, he loved his country and took his role as head of that country very seriously.

The author gives a balanced view of all the wives, as well as Henry himself, and indeed, his children.  I felt that I really got to know the characters, and the distinct personality of each wife was clearly described.  The book has clearly been extensively and exhaustively researched, with sources listed clearly at the back of the book.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this remarkably well written and descriptive biography.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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