The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Alison Weir’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” is a monumental work. It is a history book, not a historical novel. It is a serious work of non-fiction. Ms. Weir spent four years researching for this book. The bibliography takes 37 pages, and the list of actual sources takes 28 pages. She must have spent over a year just writing this voluminous book. The quality of the book clearly reflects the tremendous amount of research work.
I do not believe it is particularly appropriate to review this serious, meticulously researched book along with literary works of fiction. Moreover, having read only a few historical studies in my life, I do not feel qualified to evaluate their quality. Two aspects of Ms. Weir’s writing I feel qualified to comment on are the clarity and strength of her argument and her writing style. The author masterfully uses historical evidence to support her theses about historical figures’ motivations. Also, Ms. Weir’s prose is extremely readable. Be aware, though, that you need to read every sentence to make sure you follow the flow of the argument. I am impressed with the painstaking objectivity of the author’s portrayal of historical figures.
It took me a long time to read this book, and I totally enjoyed having to focus while reading. Thanks to Ms. Weir’s work I know a little more about the world and about people, and for that I am very thankful. Now I am off to begin “Elizabeth the Queen”.
Four and a half stars.
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