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As much as this is a book of political monarchs in highly turbulent times, this is also the personal story of siblings and how they related to one another. Once again, Alison Weir has knocked another one out of the park, bringing even the most nuanced aspects of this realm and time period to life in such a way that even a foreigner of the modern world can understand it in a deeply meaningful way. As a narrative history, this excels.
Weir does state that this book is a follow-up to her book The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which I've also given top marks. Indeed, I would agree that in conjunction with that work, Tudor history becomes a very human story, something far beyond a soap opera. Having read her biography of Henry VIII in paperback, I can say that anyone serious in Tudor studies via Weir should start there, proceed to Six Wives, then this. This focuses on the time period between Henry's death and Elizabeth's ascension, spotlighting Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth. Next in line is her Life of Elizabeth, which will no doubt build on all of these other foundations, and which I'll be adding to my reading list soon. It's all dense storytelling, but it's also expert level history made as friendly as if reading a novel, building the layers as an artist does a painting. It's that good.
Simon Prebble is as authoritative and as engaging as ever in his role as narrator. He's just got one of those instantly respectable and friendly voices that's perfect for documentary narratives and lends itself so well to works such as this.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Alison Weir weaves her charm with this glorious set of biographies of Mary, Edward and Elizabeth and their cousin Jane who was Queen for just 9 days. Its fascinating for all those that love of Tudor history as it gives personal insight to each individual from what must have been exhaustive research by Weir.
I have to say that they were a very dysfunctional family and the repercussions of such disturbed childhoods showed in each of their characters and in the decisions they made both before they reigned and after their sub sequential successions.
My only disappointment was that it stopped when Elizabeth became Queen however it did mean that I went on to listen to Weir's The Life of Elizabeth I.
Highly recommended for all Tudor history lovers and for those that thought they grew up in a dysfunctional family!
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
The title "The Children of Henry VIII" was probably chosen to tie in to the book "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", and as a marketing gimmick. It's too bad as it might discourage people who want a good interesting yet serious telling of the transition from Henry VIII to Elisabeth I.
This book starts at the death of Henry VIII and ends with the accession to the throne of Elisabeth I, and provides an excellently woven history of these turbulent years. Edward VI, Catherine Grey (not a child of Henry VIII), and Mary Tudor, may not justify a general public biography each, but combined and intertwined this is well worthy of spending 15+ hours of one's time. If you ever wondered what happened after Henry VIII, this book is for you.
The history is fascinating, the story is well written and the text is well read.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Children of Henry VIII the most enjoyable?
Having read this book in book form (and enjoying it very much) I decided to get an audio version so I could re-read whilst doing other things. I'm glad I did because I was able to absorb the information much easier this way.
What other book might you compare The Children of Henry VIII to, and why?
Alison Weir is a good writer and I do feel she is a 'historian' as well as a historical fiction writer. I would compare her writing to that of Antionia Fraser - non-academic and light story telling. This is often what I want from a history book, sometimes I want to know every minute detail and other times I want to be entertained using facts along with story telling. This book falls into the latter - which is great.
Which character – as performed by Simon Prebble – was your favourite?
Elizabeth would be my favourite character in this book.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. Like other history books I liked to listen to this in small chunks to absorb the information.
Any additional comments?
Definitely get this book if you don't want anything too 'dry'. It is story-telling, easy to listen to, entertaining and informative at the same time.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Like the previous book (The Wives of Henry VIII) - I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Weir is a great writer and really brings life to her books and those she discusses. Simon Prebble is a wonderful reader too and is very easy to listen to.
My only complaint is the lack of information on Elizabeth - I intended to purchase Weir's bio on Elizabeth regardless but I expected this to have some information on the Queen's reign - if you want an overview of all of Henry's children then I feel this is not it but rather just Edward and Mary.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful