Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Autobiography of Henry VIII

1986, 1987 Ballantine edition
Margaret George
The Autobiography of Henry VIII, with Notes by His Fool, Will Somers: A Novel
Original price $9.95, purchase price $7.00
Worn paperback

George fails in her attempts to make Henry more sympathetic, but the novel is otherwise an interesting (and long) look at the life and times of the controversial king.  True, there are some noticeable errors (misunderstanding of the intimacy of "thou," some anachronisms, including the age difference between Henry and his first wife doubling at one point), but she captures Henry's twisted heart and mind.  The use of Somers (Henry's real-life jester) is also a mixed success, in that he's supposed to be providing another viewpoint, but he too often either disappears from the narrative or sides with Henry, including on the absolute wickedness of Anne Boleyn.

I couldn't get into George's Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, giving up after a few chapters because it changes perspectives too often, but I like her The Memoirs of Cleopatra, which we'll get to in 1997.  No, I haven't read the sort of sequel to this, 2011's Elizabeth I, but I do have I, Elizabeth (1994).

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