Wife After Wife by Olivia Hayfield (Berkley)
February 11, 2020
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
Do you remember Henry VIII? You know, the English King from the 1500s who was known for his six wives. Well, through the years, I have personally had a small obsession with him and his many wives. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out there was a fictional re-telling of his reign set in the 21st century. Wife After Wife by Olivia Hayfield, brings Henry VIII, his wives, and his entire court to life in today’s world. This is my absolute dream re-telling and I am so excited to share it with you.
As a Tudor enthusiast, Wife After Wife was a perfect read. Fans of the Henry VIII saga and his six wives will find this modern-day re-telling unique and entertaining. With Harry Rose of the Rose Corporation starring as Henry VIII, Ana Lyebon (designer) as Anne Boleyn, and Clare Barr (nurse) as Catherine Parr (just to name a few), the cast of characters resembled their historical equivalents with lots of pizzaz. Hayfield’s attention to detail was completely on point. Some of my favorites were the Rack Magazine (How brilliant is that for a name?), Charles Lisle (I love Charles Brandon), and of course the 21st-century glitz and galas.
Even though I know the tale of Henry VIII and his six wives inside and out (I named one of the chickens, Anne Boleyn), I still found this book exciting and fresh. Yes, I knew everyone’s fate in the story, but to see how it played out with a modern twist kept me on the edge of my seat. Hayfield’s book was charming, witty, and beyond clever. I hope she writes more stories similar to this one.
With that said, let’s review Henry VIII’s six wives.
Catharine of Aragon: Catharine was Henry’s first wife. She married his older brother Arthur first. She then married Henry after Arthur’s early death. Catharine was a devout Catholic who refused to have her marriage annulled, causing Henry many of his future problems. During her marriage to Henry, she failed to give him a son. Her only living child was a daughter named Mary. Mary went on to be the queen of England in 1553 until her death in1558. Her nickname was “Bloody Mary” from all of the Protestant heretics she burned at the stake (hundreds and hundreds).
Anne Boleyn: Anne Boleyn is my favorite of all the wives. Anne too failed to give Henry a living son. She gave birth to a daughter named Elizabeth. Anne was eventually charged with adultery, incest, witchcraft, and conspiracy against her husband, the King. She was sentenced to death by decapitation. Anne’s daughter went on to be the famous Queen Elizabeth, who reigned for 44 years. So much for having a male heir to sit on the throne…….#girlpower.
Jane Seymour: Jane married Henry the DAY AFTER Anne was executed. She was actually Anne’s second cousin. She was the only wife to give Henry a legitimate son. She, unfortunately, died two weeks after giving birth. Her son was Edward VI, the future king of England. Henry is buried with Jane.
Anne of Cleves: Henry’s fourth wife was more of a political strategy. Anne was essentially a “mail-ordered bride”. They never met before their betrothal. Henry was appalled at her appearance when meeting for the first time. The short of it is….they never consummated their marriage and their marriage was annulled within six months. Surprisingly, they went on to be good friends (she made it out alive).
Catharine Howard: Henry truly robbed the cradle with his fifth wife. Catharine was just a teen when she married this 50-year-old King. After a little less than two years of marriage, Catharine was accused of treason for her sexual past. She was executed in 1542……bye bye head once again.
Catherine (Katherine) Parr: Last but not least, Catherine Parr. Catherine married Henry in 1543, even though she was in love with Sir Thomas Seymour (Jane Seymour’s brother). After Henry died in 1547, she went on to marry Thomas. She died a year later following the birth of her daughter. She was 36 when she died.
Well, Mr. H. That is the briefest summary I could give on the six wives of Henry VIII. Before, during, and after his reign as King, is equivalent to the juiciest of soap operas. Definitely worth reading more on in my opinion.
I wish you the grandest day!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Instead of her head on the chopping block, Anne Boleyn was executed by a French swordsman. A classy way to go! FYI, Catharine Howard got the ax. Chop Chop!!!