I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 3.5 stars Series: yes - companion novellas
Behind every great king stands a queen. And behind every queen, the whole court watches on…
Over the years of his reign, six different women took their place beside King Henry VIII of England as his wife and queen.
But the real stories of the six Tudor queens belong to those who lived among them. Played out in glittering palaces and whispering courts, these are tales of the people who loved and served these women, and those who lied and betrayed them.
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This is a collection of short stories and novellas from Alison Weir’s 6-book series of the wives of Henry VIII. They flesh out the court and the lives primarily of the women in it. Fittingly, for a series that looked at queens, this collection is almost entirely focused on the women of Tudor nobility.
There are the stories of women at court, watching – and often trying to avoid being dragged into – all the drama. There is a story about Katherine Parr’s daughter by her second marriage, and chilling tale about a woman who has her abusive husband killed to marry her lover. Key characters from history who are often ignored or made secondary characters get the spotlight – Jane Boleyn and Margaret Douglas.
I think it would be hard to find someone brought up in the English school system who doesn’t know the basic history here, and a lot of the stories cover the same ground (with some extensions or reductions.) They are from different perspectives, but the plot itself doesn’t have any tension because you know what’s going to happen. Most of these stories were released individually as ebooks or included in the main series’ editions. I think they might have been a bit more engaging like that – read in bursts.
They aren’t the happiest of stories. Being focused on women, a lot die in childbirth. Being people of the 16th century, a lot die of illness. Accusations of treason abound and people lose loved ones, even if they’re lucky enough to survive. It’s interesting, but not happy. And the many deathly endings can make it feel a bit abrupt at times, because there isn’t really closure for these people – they just die.
Read my reviews of other books by Alison Weir: