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More about the King than his wives,
This review is from: Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (Audio Cassette)
There is a certain fascination with the larger than life (and towards the end of his life grotesque) figure of Henry VIII. If we think of a King of England or Britain he is almost certainly the most recognisable. And the Tudor era certainly seems to be one which fascinates most on television lately. This book, however, was supposed to be about, not King Henry, but his wives. Although they are all here, along with their life stories (to a greater or lesser extent - for some their lives before becoming Queen seem to be shrouded in mystery) the figure of Henry dominates the book, very much as he must have dominated these women in life.
As is always the case, the most interesting stories are that of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Here the stories are most dramatic, and therefore most gripping. In audiocassette form, the first 2 (of 4) tapes are taken up with these two - more Katherine than Anne admittedly, though of course, their stories overlap by about 7 years. The final four wives make do with approximately a side of a tape apiece.
Although well written the final four wives seem almost two dimensional characters in comparison with Henry and his first two wives, and it is easy to see why there are biographies of Anne Boleyn by the score, but very few of say Jane Seymour - you simply couldn't find enough to write it seems.
As I have read a couple of David Starkey's books before and found them to have depth as well as being amongst the most fast paced and readable of histories, I do wonder how much personal detail about the women, which would turn this from a history text into a collection of biographies, was cut in the abridgement. I shall just have to read the book to find out.
All in all this is well worth buying for a long journey to pass the time, but I did expect to enjoy it more - it dragged a little towards the end.