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Book Review of The Last Wife of Henry VIII

The Last Wife of Henry VIII
morbidromantic avatar reviewed on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 14


I wasn't too long into the book that I had to apply one of the most important historical fiction rules: when reading historical fiction, keep in mind that it's not non-fiction and will therefore be less bound by the responsibility of accuracy and neutrality. Historical fiction may take as many liberties as it pleases to tell an interesting story, which Erickson certainly does in this novel. Historical fiction is usually based on the life of an important figure or on historical events, though not with the promise of total truth. Fiction is fiction, even with you tack on the word 'historical' in front of it. To anyone unfamiliar with Tudor history, the story flows easy. For anyone who knows a little something about the Tudors, some of the inaccuracies or displays of character are a bit unsettling.

For example, Catherine did not marry young Ned Burgh, though Erickson writes that he was her one true love. Also, Tom Seymour did not try to usurp the crown through starting his own army and waging a personal war. These things are added for romantic and dramatic effect only.

What especially annoyed me was that when married to Henry VIII, the novel Catherine Parr was silly and stupid enough to commit adultery. Clearly she had not been paying enough attention when other wives were executed for that very crime. It seemed out of character that such an intelligent and steady headed woman would give in to something so dangerous and, well, stupid.

Was this a good book?

Yes. I couldn't put it down. The drama was great, the romances were hot, and the intrigues were very intriguing. I enjoyed the book and hope to find more of Erickson's works. Fortunately, while I enjoy picking through historical fiction and determining its accuracy, I don't get upset or overly bothered when a book is very inaccurate.