If there was anything that I can say stood out so well in this, it was how each queen was different, and instead of defaulting to a few very well known characteristics, it expanded upon them.
Each of his Queens feels real here, as they should be. Katherine, isn’t just her loyalty, her piousness or anything of that sort. It is also what makes her who she is, the events that befallen her after the death of Arthur, the state of limbo she existed in before her marriage to Henry. As well as her reasons to why she will never denounce her own marriage. She is a tragic figure in all rights, from the moment her first husband died and her seven years in deprivation.
Anne, isn’t just a seductress. She was a woman condemned regardless of what she chose, forced to play even when she wanted out and only made the best of her situation because she didn’t have any other choice. If anything, she has managed to make me understand her that many of her choices were not her own, but her considering her own situation and what will become of her if she chose otherwise.
I did like how Jane was given depth, as she is one of the Queens that will have been incredibly boring to write. If they stuck to who she is. But it goes deeper to feel what she has when she hears of Anne Boleyn and her execution, the plight of Katherine before her death.
And what still drove her at the end. Although I still don’t really like her. His other Queens still outshone Jane in all regards.
A favourite of mine will be Anne of Cleves, who as many said lived to be the most happy. She didn’t die in childbirth like Jane(and Kateryn), secluded like Katherine, or executed like Anne and Catherine but in wealth and compete.
I liked how this went deeper into her character and the emotions she felt, for being cast aside and said to be the king’s sister. It expands on what she felt throughout that ordeal, and even her marriage in general because her brother wedded her to anyone who could pay his price. She drew a short end of the stick, but she managed to make the best of it. And that made me admire her.
To Catherine Howard, and her life. Which I found to be the best as it gives a lot of nuance to her as a character. A naive, foolish girl, who simply wanted to have fun. And what made her who she is. She was someone who gained my sympathy, and a pitiful figure. A girl who didn’t know how to play like Anna of Cleves, a girl who didn’t have powerful backing like Katherine of Aragon, nor was she a girl whose nature was what Henry desired like Jane, or even a girl who could take the spotlight and keep it for years like Anne.
And last is Kateryn Parr, where many simply mentions her as a woman who survived him. She did survive him, in more ways than one. As she has learned from all her predecessors downfall. But she is also my favorite, because of how she could finally bring all of Henry’s children together, as well as temper herself. Having a loy of knowledge of what he could do helped, but it was also her own nature. She did what was hard even for his other Queens to try, Anna certainly worried more about her own marriage than anything else, Catherine had just became a woman, and spent not much time at court.
While she managed to reconcile them together, to bring the shattered broken pieces of Henry’s family others. Elizabeth, because of virtual seclusion and losing her mother, Mary, the deprivation she felt during much of her adulthood, and her own legacy to her mother. And that’s why she was and is my favorite. But this gives far more to her.
I enjoyed how Henry was portrayed, as a tyrant because he is. But not always someone who is dangerous, just a man who can go to any extremes to get what he wants.
If anything, this was a book which managed to make me feel that this was why I loved the Tudors. Because here none of his Queens were just the descriptions they were associated with. They felt like real breathing beings. The same can be said for Henry. And none of them were reduced to what their legacies and reputations were, they were humans with emotions, and the time they were narrating made it heart wrenching for me to read consistently. Beginning from Katherine of Aragon, to Katheryn Parr, all of them managed to leave a mark on my heart to feel for them.
Fully recommend if you want something to do with the Tudors. Also, if they are going to do this for other dynasties count me in.
Rating: 5 out of 5