Monday, August 5, 2013

REVIEW: The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

TITLE: The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
AUTHOR: Margaret George
GENRE: Historical Fiction
READ FROM: July 17th to August 3rd, 2013

BOOK BLURB: Much has been written about the mighty, egotistical Henry VIII: the man who dismantled the Church because it would not grant him the divorce he wanted; who married six women and beheaded two of them; who executed his friend Thomas More; who sacked the monasteries; who longed for a son and neglected his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; who finally grew fat, disease-ridden, dissolute. Now, in her magnificent work of storytelling and imagination, Margaret George brings us Henry VIII's story as he himself might have told it, in memoirs interspersed with irreverent comments from his jester and confidant, Will Somers. Brilliantly combining history, wit, dramatic narrative, and extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, this monumental novel shows us Henry the man more vividly then he has ever been seen before.


I had enjoyed reading The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George so I thought I would give this one a try as well. The story sucked me in right from the beginning and I was rather amazed that I seem to be flying through the book at a good pace even though it is just over 900 pages, at least at first.

I think I was about 400 pages in when I started getting bored. There were bits and pieces that helped regain my interest only for it to start to drag again. I really didn't find that many people that likeable and actually I was a bit confused by some of the court because they all had similar names or gained a name that belonged to someone else before. I don't really know that much of Tudor England other then the fact that Henry VIII married seven times and beheaded two of his wives.

Henry at first was very unlikable, he seemed to throw tantrums when he didn't get his way. I guess that could be because of his station in life, after all being king made people do your bidding and do everything and anything for you. He did sort of grow on me as I got deeper into the book. I felt bad for Catherine of Aragon. It really can't be that easy to have that many pregnancies only to lose almost all of the babes. Then watch your husband who you love slip away from you. Ann Boleyn in this book was very unlikeable, very manipulative and thought she was invincible. I can't imagine what went through her and Catherine Howard's mind while they were being led up to the executioner's block! I swear some of the executions back in the day were pretty harsh. I think at one point he had people hung, then taken down before they died, then had their innards pulled out of their bodies, then set on fire. That is a pretty complicated and crazy death!

I was pretty sad that Jane died. She seemed to actually be happy with Henry and even gave him the son he wanted.

I'm actually surprised that by the end that I actually felt sorry for Henry. Although I still think what he did to Katherine was pretty horrible and no matter what he did she was still his proper Wife. It was sad that she seemed to really love him only to have him treat her the way he did.

I look forward to reading more of Margaret George's books especially Mary, Called Magdalene and Elizabeth I.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

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