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Historical Fiction in the Court of Henry VIII

09th July 2015

From the Book Worm 

Reviews by Robyn Bree. Because of her partial blindness, Robyn is unable to read print books. Instead she maintains her love of literature, in all its forms, through audio books and the wonders of technology. 

 

Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies are the first two historical novels in a planned trilogy by the well regarded English novelist, Hilary Mantel. These first two novels, featuring the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell during the infamous reign of King Henry VIII, were both awarded Mann Booker Prizes, Ms Mantel being reported to have extensively researched the Tudor Court. 

Wolf Hall, the seat of Jane Seymour's family dynasty, and Bring up the Bodies trace Thomas Cromwell's rise to power from his humble beginnings, to his involvement in foreign wars and to his practice as a lawyer mixing with the ruling class of Italy. His rise to fame in England began with Cardinal Wolsey who, like many others, lost his head despite his eminent standing. A highly astute man with quick intelligence, Cromwell guided King Henry through his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, the mother of Mary I, the Protestant Reformation by which the King became the head of the Church of England, then his marriage to and beheading for treason and adultery of Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I. Within a week of Anne's death, Henry married his third wife, Jane Seymour, moth of Edward VI and his only legitimate son. Throughout these turbulent times, Cromwell faithfully, even cruelly served his King. In the third novel, Thomas will lose his head just as Wolsey and Anne Boleyn had before him. 

These two published novels were scripted in six episodes for BBC television and screened earlier this year in Australia on Fox television. 

The Other Boleyn, by Phillippa Gregory, is an intriguing insight into this ambitious, ego-centric, power seeking Court. The subject of this historical novel is Mary Boleyn, Anne's older sister, whom Henry bedded by cared not to wed. 

Hilary Mantel's first two novels and Phillippa Gregory's novel, all very readable, are available from our Redlands Libraries. 

Enjoy by take care. Who will ever know the whole truth of such infamous times. 

This article is reproduced, with permission, from the 'Victoria Village Voice' a quarterly newsletter produced by residents of Renaissance Victoria Point and issued on behalf of the Residents' Association. 

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