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Brooke's Pick: The King's Pleasure by Alison Weir

The New York Times bestselling author of the Six Tudor Queens series explores the private side of the legendary king Henry VIII and his dramatic and brutal reign in this extraordinary historical novel.

Henry VIII is arguably the best known monarch in British history, having had six wives over the course of his reign and sending two to their deaths. Illustrious author and historian Alison Weir has paid tribute to each of Henry’s wives in her Six Tudor Queens series, and now sets her sights on the man himself - the formidable Henry VIII.


If you are familiar with King Henry’s story, or if you have read Weir’s books on his six wives, there is really not much new to explore here, beyond experiencing Henry’s tumultuous life from his own point of view. Weir covers a lot of ground, starting with Henry’s life as a teenage heir, set on doing things differently from his miserly father once he is king. We learn that Henry actually was quite in love with his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, but later set his sights elsewhere when she couldn’t provide him with his much-needed male heir. From there, we cycle through each of Henry’s unfortunate wives, while Weir also mixes in a great deal of politics and court intrigue.


Much of Henry’s story revolves around his efforts to produce a son to succeed him, which he considered to be his duty and necessary to securing the stability of England’s future. Weir examines Henry’s life through a somewhat sympathetic lens, gracing Henry with compassion and nuance as he makes decisions about his wives and the state of his kingdom. She does not paint him as the tyrant as he is often portrayed, rather viewing him as a man making the hard decisions for his country, and one who held genuine love and affection for the many women who were thrust into his life in the efforts to secure a male heir.


To know Henry is to both love and despise Henry, as evidenced here by Weir. This novel is a great starting place for those with little knowledge of the infamous King, and comes recommended to readers who would rather explore Henry’s life through a richly detailed narrative account rather than picking up a book of nonfiction. - Brooke, Public Relations Librarian


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