Skip to main content

Review: The Autobiography of Henry VIII, by Margaret George


Pages: 960
Original date of publication:
My edition: 1998
Why I decided to read:
How i acquired my copy: The NYC Strand, Summer 2006


Review originally published September 11 2006 on Amazon.com

We all know the Henry VIII of legend: the obese king with six wives, who executed two, divorced two, "killed" a fifth, and was only survived by one; who had gout and a variety of other ailments. Too often, too, we only hear his story through his enemies. However, Margaret George's "autobiographical" novel tells Henry's story through is own eyes--leaving nothing out but sometimes changing the truth a bit to suit his own purposes. In addition, his old Fool, Will Somers puts Henry's story into perspective, giving us an "afterward" of sorts."

The novel begins with Henry's origins: the struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster. Continuing through childhood and beyond, the Autobiography tells the story of a truly remarkable person, one who is often maligned in historical chronicles. Margaret George tells Henry's story with poignancy, highlighting the most important aspects of the life of England's first Renaissance king.

Despite all this however, I did find some fault with the novel. I would have liked to have seen more of the humanists, who are mentioned only in passing here. I would also have liked to have seen Katherine Parr more.

Comments

judy said…
But you didn't say anything about how long it is! I was assigned to review Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall two years ago for my paid reviewing job, but was hopelessly uninformed about Henry and the Tudors. So I read Margaret George's book first. That was a lot of reading for one review. But it paid off in terms of orienting me to the period, to the King and to the wives. I found the writing style quite engaging.
I loved this book. It was one of the first books that I got on Audible.
The recorded version is simply divine. Yes...it is also very long.
WTF Are You Reading?: WTF's In My Mailbox #5

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…