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109 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
This book was absolutely fascinating from start to finish - a wonderful period of history, to which Alison Weir has done complete justice.
Each of the wives are written about in more-than-adequate detail - if this wasn't a non-fiction piece of literature, you could say that the characterisation was top notch.
When completing this book (which shouldn't take too...
Published on 25 Jan 2002

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An exhaustive account but beware of unverified accounts and factual errors
As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I think that Weir sometimes lacks the flair, written vivacity and the wit that other writers such as Starkey, Fraser and (dare I say it!) even Denny are able to postulate. I say this because I personally felt that it was difficult to concentrate and persevere at times due in part though I must acknowledge to the sheer volume of the...
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by Apocalyptic Queen


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109 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 25 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This book was absolutely fascinating from start to finish - a wonderful period of history, to which Alison Weir has done complete justice.
Each of the wives are written about in more-than-adequate detail - if this wasn't a non-fiction piece of literature, you could say that the characterisation was top notch.
When completing this book (which shouldn't take too long as it's hard to put down), get hold of "The Children of England - The Heirs of Henry VIII", which continues where this book left off, and examines Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary I. I have just read that and can't wait to move on to Weir's biography on "Elizabeth"!
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual and entertaining, 18 Sep 2005
We need to rewrite the rhyme 'Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived'. In this excellent book, we learn that Henry VIII had three of his marriages annulled, he had arrest warrants drawn up for three of his wives for capital offences, he was survived by two wives and two of them died in childbirth.
Alison Weir begins with the story of the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. Brought to England at the age of 16 and married to Henry's brother, widowed before her 17th birthday, engaged to Henry the following year. We learn how her second marriage was put on hold for political reasons, but it was Henry's priority on becoming king. It seemed to be a love-match as much as a political one. We follow the marriage through the love, through the heart-break of losing their children and through Henry's betrayal of a loyal woman who even acted as regent during a Scottish invasion when he was at war in France.
The narrative progresses to Anne Boleyn, the ambitious woman who stirred up so much passion and was eventually cruelly convicted of crimes she probably didn't commit. But there's more to Anne than Henry's innocent victim and one of the major causes of the English Reformation. We also learn of her devious plots against her rivals. Her step-daughter Mary was particularly at risk.
Plain Jane Seymour became the third wife, Henry's favourite, but the marriage was short.
We learn about Anne of Cleves who, succeeding Jane, benefitted most from a brief marriage to Henry, transforming from impoverished German princess to Henry's wealthy 'sister'.
Then there was Katherine Howard, a silly teenager without the sense to take the opportunities thrown at her to save her own life.
And finally the intellectual Katherine Parr whose only purpose as a sixteenth century woman was to be given in marriage to increase her family's status. Widowed twice before, Katherine was now financially independent and looking to marry for love when she caught the king's eye. Inevitably, she had to settle for Henry. In doing so, however, we learn that she came to feature in the life of Henry's daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I, taking charge of her educaion and shaping one of England's greatest monarchs.
Like all of Alison Weir's books, this is both informative and accessible. The reader doesn't need any previous knowledge. Not a text book, but not a novel, this is just an entertaining book that happens to be true.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herstory!, 20 Nov 2002
By A Customer
Alison Weir has a great talent for weaving factual information into a good story. Packed with historical references and material, this masterful account of the six wives of Henry VIII is not only painstakingly researched, but is a really good yarn!
This book challenges the stereotypes of the six queens and brings each character to life with contemporary sources. Too often we see the wives portrayed as the Barren, the conniving Harlot, the saintly Mother, the Ugly, the Adulteress, and the sedate Widow. This book gives us insights into the characters and impact of the queens, and certainly opened my eyes.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Tudor history, womens' history or a good story. All the good tales are based in truth.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try it - you will not put it down, 18 July 2000
By A Customer
This was the first book I read by Alison Weir - and I so liked it that, since then, I have read all others !
The author as a way of being entertaining while sticking strictly to historical sources that makes the read very enjoyable: there is no feeling (and no need, in her books) of a romanced approach - reality is far more exciting that fiction.
This book is, in fact, about Henry VIII and his evolution during his reign. The description of the different "compartments" of Henry VIII's matrimonial life are interesting in that they each correspond to a different era in his reign - and of Court life and customs. I hadn't realised before that his first marriage, with Catherine of Aragon, lasted as long as all others together.
A very good and easy read, which I strongly recommend.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars totally rivetting, 30 July 2001
I thought this was one of the best history books I have ever read-the Tudor court comes alive and even though you know the story, it's impossible to put it down! Alison Weir tells us where surviving artefacts, buildings etc can be found and makes you want to dash across the country to see them for yourself. A vanished world, vividly brought to life.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes to life, 12 Jan 2001
I am a true and avid fan of Alison Weir.I have read all her books and feel that history has come alive once again. I had that feeling as a chlid,she makes all her figures so real,the detail of their lives,the relationships,the passion and the tragedy.
The past becomes a place where one wants to visit and even stay a while,in order to get to know the characters. This is the stuff of good writing which makes for great reading. Buy and read anything by her,Children of England is especially good. But the 6 wives is one of the best I have read and re-read in a long time
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An exhaustive account but beware of unverified accounts and factual errors, 7 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (Paperback)
As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I think that Weir sometimes lacks the flair, written vivacity and the wit that other writers such as Starkey, Fraser and (dare I say it!) even Denny are able to postulate. I say this because I personally felt that it was difficult to concentrate and persevere at times due in part though I must acknowledge to the sheer volume of the book but also due to the lack of conviction and persuasiveness of the arguments conveyed which I have noted in other works.

Another major downfall for me (and I do consider this to be a downfall, especially in a work of someone who is reputed to be an accomplished historical writer), the almost complete reliance on secondary accounts, and the failure to challenge their authenticity and their motives.
A prime example of this is in relation to the reports of Eustace Chapuys and the author also appears to be very biased, not deploying an impartial attitude towards Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, or even at times, Catherine of Aragon.
I also have particular concerns with regard to highly circumspect accounts not verified by other sources which are conveyed more or less as fact in this book such as Henry seducing the fair fiancee of a passer-by (although Weir mentions not only this alleged incident and its source in her biography on Mary Boleyn, she does not in this book however, delve into a great deal of detail as to where she acquired this account from, with the reader then having to sift through the references), Anne seemingly compassing and "plotting" the deaths of Catherine and Mary (a claim which is highly unsubstantiated) and her account of Catherine Howard's execution which is in all probability incorrect.

Unfortunately, this means for me that while I thoroughly appreciate the breadth of research which undoubtedly went into this work, it is not however on parr with David Starkey and Antonia Fraser's account of the Six Wives.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Read, 13 Sep 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Alison Weir has written many non fiction books on the British monarchy. Her research is always meticulous and her books are written in such a way that they can be read with enjoyment by anyone. By that I mean they are not written in the same way that historical text books were written when I attended school. They are written in a way that not only provides accurate information on the subject but also to give pleasure to the reader. I enjoyed the book enormously.

Henry VIII was one of the most intelligent and also most difficult of men. A fine athlete in his youth, a scholar and at times the most likeable of men. But as his life progressed he became more and more unpredictable and could turn on people at the drop of a hat, sometimes with fatal consequences.

For any woman to be married to such a complex character must have been a daunting experience. Probably tantamount to walking on egg shells. When the man they are married to is also the King of England there position would be virtually untenable and in a number of his marriages this proved to be the case. However the marriage started out, it soon became apparent that no woman could keep Henry happy for long.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Amazing., 6 Jun 2006
By 
This book is truly wonderful. Factual, explorative and engrossing. Weir treats each wife as an individual with an approach that is original and unique. Brilliant.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Total Joy To Read, 18 Sep 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Alison Weir has written many non fiction books on the British monarchy. Her research is always meticulous and her books are written in such a way that they can be read with enjoyment by anyone. By that I mean they are not written in the same way that historical text books were written when I attended school. They are written in a way that not only provides accurate information on the subject but also to give pleasure to the reader. I enjoyed the book enormously.

Henry VIII was one of the most intelligent and also most difficult of men. A fine athlete in his youth, a scholar and at times the most likeable of men. But as his life progressed he became more and more unpredictable and could turn on people at the drop of a hat, sometimes with fatal consequences.

For any woman to be married to such a complex character must have been a daunting experience. Probably tantamount to walking on egg shells. When the man they are married to is also the King of England there position would be virtually untenable and in a number of his marriages this proved to be the case. However the marriage started out, it soon became apparent that no woman could keep Henry happy for long.
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The Six Wives Of Henry VIII
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (Paperback - 22 Nov 2007)
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