The Autobiography Of Henry Viii
- Pan Macmillan
- Publication Date:
- 11 March 1988
- Modern & Contemporary
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This book was my first reading experience with historical fiction. Boy howdy, did I pick a good one to start off with!Margaret George's work was the kickoff to a now lifelong interest in British history.
The author should be congratulated for even attempting such a monumental task, let alone writing such an entertaining and readable book. Before I read this book I had read a lot of books on Henry VIII but none from his point of view. For me this book made all the people and events I had read about in other places come to life. Definitely the perfect book to get lost in. Another bonus is the astonishment other people express when they learn that you have decided to read such a large book all on your own.
Margaret George presents what I gather is an unusually sympathetic view of the king known above all for his six wives. Those wives by far become the novel's focus - first encounter, courtship, marriage and the resulting fallout; six times repeated in variation. There is an overview approach to political activities of his reign, and rather more attention to his founding of what has long since become the Anglican faith, but predominantly this is a very personal story from a very personal perspective that dwells upon relationships formed and/or forfeited. At first I was sensitive to the novel demonstrating a stronger lean towards history in terms of history/fiction balance than I generally prefer in my historical fiction reads, but by the end all was forgiven (and appreciated). I feel I've witnessed a life lived, like I've seldom experienced in any fiction or non-fiction work. The author did a fine job of capturing the male voice. I remain uncertain of the necessity for inserts attributed to the Will Somers character, but they do provide a nice frame to the whole and help illuminate some passages in a less jarring manner than footnotes would achieve. I'm looking forward to reading more by Margaret George.
What a wonderful book! At the beginning, Henry has died, and Will has found the diary he supposedly kept since his youth. He sends it to the daughter of Anne Boleyn's sister Mary, who he believes is in truth Henry's daughter. Will, whose father died when he was very young, does this because he believes that a child should know his or her father.George has really done her research, but instead of ploddign through history, she gives Henry a realistic voice that is at time maddening, at other times sympathetic; in other words, she turns this huge historical figure into a man, like others, with both strengths and weaknesses. The interjections by Will, who, despite his cynical tone, obviously loved Henry, give us further insights into his character. Along the way, she gives us a delightful picture of life, love, and politics at the Tudor court.I listened to the audiobook; the reader, David Case, was wonderful. It's a long one--over 41 hours--but never dull. I also have the book in print and know that I will be going back to it in the future.
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