“Good - but SO LONG!”Alyson N wrote this review Thursday, March 14, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I loved this book. Although it is fiction, the author investigated for many years and tried to get as acuate as possible. I t is a great read.”Valerie L wrote this review Sunday, February 17, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I throughly enjoyed this book. The author, Margaret George is coming to speak to our book club. it's quite long, 932 pages, but worthwhile reading if you're interested in historical fiction.”Barbara R wrote this review Sunday, February 5, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This sounds good!”Gloria Piraino wrote this review Tuesday, January 24, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Given by Edo in May 2010, I'm finally done with this hefty book after more than a year. Of course I've read a lot of other books in between May and today, even a book or three on the same subject of Henry and his wives with short shelf lives. This one is more fictional than the rest I think, but the egotistical, petulant and lecherous Henry here is consistent with the rest of the books I've read. And so far I've read books which focused on Anne Boleyn (and sister Mary) and Anne of Cleves (and wife #5, Catherine Howard, who from all accounts was the worst choice among all 6 wives). Wife #3 is what I'd like to read more about: Jane Seymour.
In any case, this book has spurred my finally acquiescing to watch A Man for All Seasons immediately after (we all know how it ends, that's why). Lovely movie, I love Paul Scofield there, and the villains Leo McKern and John Hurt are at their element here. Admirable screenplay by Robert Bolt. And since I'm apparently on a Tudor bender, Mary Queen of Scots is next, and then there's Anne of a Thousand Days. More beheadings up ahead... ”
“wonderful, insight into Henry's thinking”Suzanne B wrote this review Friday, October 21, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
The first thing you'll probably notice about this book is its size - at 932 pages, this is not a book for the casual reader or easily distracted. If you are looking for a casual, quick read on Henry VIII, you should probably look elsewhere. However, if you're okay with the time commitment, you could do far, far worse than to read George's massive tome.
Written as an "autobiography" of Henry VIII, the reader is given the opportunity to see Henry's life as he himself might have seen it. Other readers have expressed frustration - Catherine Howard wouldn't have panted after him, not all women fell over themselves in his later years, etc - but that's part of the underspoken genius of the book. "We are all the heroes of our own stories," and never is the case more true than in this book. In order to find plausible justifications for the callous and sometimes horrific actions taken by this infamous monarch, George has to postulate what he was thinking and why. Was he harsh? Was he unforgiving? To be sure. But to read what the author says, Henry has a reason for everything (read: excuse).
She captures Henry's obsessive need to be loved and shows how such single-minded compulsion can drive us to destroy the things and people we love the most. His complete unwillingness to shoulder any blame and to cast any guilt onto anyone else is not hard to believe - but even as we see what others might be thinking (sometimes helped along by Will's comments), we can see why Henry himself might not see it. Never is this more apparent than in the case of Catherine Howard.
Self-indulgence, self-pity and self-aggrandizement all are prominent features throughout the book, but are still so subtly written that they can come off as justified.
Despite the intriguing writing and ever-fascinating topic, I still found my mind wandering from time to time. It's not easy to maintain a single level of interest in a book this size, unfortunately, and sometimes "Henry's" philosophical meanderings do get a tad tedious.
I can't find too may faults with the overall narrative, though, and I have to recommend this book to any Tudor die-hard or neophyte, so long as any prospective reader has the patience to follow it through to the end.
“It is interesting to see history thru what might have been King Henry's eyes. His rationalizations made his behavior seem reasonable and necessary. Very pleasant read.”Laura G. wrote this review Tuesday, June 28, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This was the book that jolted my interest in the Royal line of Britain. I went from Henry VIII to learning everything I could about the entire line and it all started with this marvelous work of fiction by Margaret George.”Jerseygirl / Dame Constance (Oodles) Oxford-Whapdoodle, D.C., B.C., D.C.A. wrote this review Monday, June 6, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“LibraryCin said: 3.75 stars
This is a fictional autobiography of Henry VIII.
It is a very long book, and unfortunately, I was interrupted a couple of times while reading it, so that may affect what I thought. I was a bit disappointed in the first half; maybe I expected too much. I wanted there to be some redeeming factor to Henry and I didn't see it. But, I seemed to enjoy the second half much more. I also quite enjoyed the "notes" by Henry's fool, Will Somers. Will's notes gave an "outsider" perspective to fill in extra things Henry may not have known about, of course, including info about Henry's death and funeral at the end. It was nice to read something about Henry himself, rather than something focusing on his wives, for a change.”