Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All. M. T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park and Deborah Hopkinson. Schwartz & Wade. May 2018. 416 pp. ISBN#: 9781524716197.
Attracting the eye of Henry VIII was definitely NOT a good thing. Yet, remarkably, each woman whom Henry courted thought she would be the one to succeed where others had failed. Denial is certainly such a powerful phenomenon!
We have here the story of each royal bride, narrated by different authors, told with a unique point of view that adds interest to the belabored topic of Henry’s wives. They all have one element in common – please, yes amuse and flatter Henry VIII. After each narrative we have Henry’s brief comments on his experience with each lady – with the same cycle of initial interest, disappointment, feeling betrayed, and separation. It reminds this reviewer of a child grown bored with toys. Familiarity breeding contempt becomes the precursor to the “block.”
So for those unfamiliar with these brides, this will be an engaging, fascinating read. For those familiar, it’s the story we all know but with some added emphasis to differentiate the women. So Catherine’s disbelief and faith are quite remarkable. Anne Boleyn’s account claims to be focused on joy but that is hardly the picture we get of this woman who passes from giddy to enraged to extremely pious in a most incredible manner. Anne of Cleves is probably the smartest, most perceptive wife whose marriage has duped the King and for which she gains exile and independence, which isn’t such a bad outcome considering the demise of Henry’s other brides. So the narratives continue…
Fatal Throne… is labeled a YA novel but it is amenable to readers of all ages. Each author has obviously done considerable research not only about the main characters but also about the prevailing, conniving advisors to the Tudor court. Enjoy the latest addition to the Tudor novels depicting one of the most significant periods of English history! Nicely crafted and certainly fascinating as the reader gets a closer look at the intricacies of initially pleasing and ultimately fragmented, fatal royal bonds.