©1996 Alison Weir (P)2003 Recorded Books
"Like anthropology, history and biography can demonstrate unfamiliar ways of feeling and being. Alison Weir's sympathetic collective biography, The Children of Henry VIII does just that, reminding us that human nature has changed--and for the better. . . . Weir imparts movement and coherence while re-creating the suspense her characters endured and the suffering they inflicted." (The New York Times Book Review)
"fabric artist and quilter"
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!
To read a biography is to read about a life in the context of events. Those 'events' are usually taught as history, but when I understand how those events influenced an individual's actions and how their actions then molded what came next, history comes alive.
This is a biography of all of Henry's children, as well as collateral descendants, so the tumultuous times after Henry VIII's reign became, for me, a coherent whole.
Simon Prebble has a delightful voice. He sometimes stumbles over words (not surprising given the length of the book) but I'm surprised that these garbled pronunciations weren't edited out, and that's the only reason I've given less than 5 stars to the narration.
This is extremely well-written and comprehensive and a joy to listen to.
I don't usually listen to non-fiction, but The Children of Henry VIII is as interesting as it is entertaining. I don't know if the author reveals many new details about the lives of Henry's three children; however, she does pull together a wealth of information into one solid book. If you're interested in this period at all, this book is a good place to start.
Today, Henry VIII is mostly known for his many wives, but his impact on the England of his day - and far beyond - was far more substantial than his reckless love life. This book reveals Henry's legacy, how it affected politics in England long after his death, and, how it was interpreted by his surviving children, who all had strong personalities of their own.
The narrator, Simon Prebble, is excellent as always!
Warm, human, detailed
Almost as good as her book on the Wars of the Roses . Hopefully that will become available on Audible soon too.
I find the Tudor period fascinating - very interesting book and very well written.
The relationship between Mary & Elizabeth after Mary had ascended to the thrown.
'And you thought your family was bad...'
Simon Prebble has the best narration voice! Perfect for this subject.
The Children of Henry VIII / B008QYINQU
I gave "The Children of Henry VIII" four stars when I rated the text version, and I'm happy to give this audiobook the same. I still don't care as much for Simon Prebble as for Weir's other narrators; in general I prefer narrators of the same gender as the author for non-fiction, and in specific to this case, I don't care for some of Prebble's pronunciations. I preferred Judith Boyd's ("The Lady in the Tower") smooth "Shap-we" (for Eustace Chapuys) to Prebble's "Chap-poo-we". However, since this is a direct follow-on book to 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII", it's nice to have the same narrator for continuity.
If you're coming to the audiobook without having read the book, this is a solid scholarly look at the four heirs of Henry VIII: Edward, Jane Grey, Mary, and Elizabeth. The book follows the relationships between the heirs and not so much the reigns of the heirs themselves, which means that the book stops rather abruptly at Mary's death and Elizabeth's accession since there are no more inter-heir relationships to document at that point -- though you can continue from there with Weir's "The Life of Elizabeth I", which I do recommend).
~ Ana Mardoll
Weir does a terrific job of storytelling. There are histories that are dry and impersonal, this is not one of them. By focusing on a narrow window, Weir makes it easy to connect to the characters in the book as though it's great fiction rather than history. Never the less, her research is amazing and she has many scholarly points to make.
The book begins with a quick run up and review of the reign of Henry VIII in order to set the stage for the assent of his son, Edward VI. It is easy to skip over the reigns of Edward, Lady Jane and Mary on the way from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. However, much of the molding of the culture, government and religion of England was reaction to and grew out of the context of the radical positions of Edward and Mary. The personal details tell the story of the evolution of ideas, theology and policies. I respect the histories that cover the centuries in broad strokes, but Weir's style of writing is entertaining and informative at a much deeper level.
Accounts taken from letters, diaries and testimony give us the expressions on faces, laughter, horror as well as what they wore, ate and really looked like. This level of detail makes it possible to experience history in a full color world experienced by the senses. Mary loved her little sister, Edward idealized and played with his older sisters, Mary fell head over heals for Philip and real people died for what they believed in grotesque ways while wars raged on the continent and an international cast of supporting characters came and went with news, influence and intrigue.
I've read more exciting history, but only because the stories were more exciting. Alison Weir is as gifted as any historian I've read. She doesn't document every phrase in the narrative. She tells the story with details and mentions sources in context making her prose flow in a natural and unobtrusive way. It is really easy to forget that this is not fiction. I look forward to reading more of her work including her historical fiction. Michael Schaara's "Killer Angels" comes to mind. The events can be real and dialogue can even be taken from primary source, but there is a line where an honest historian can decide to write from his or her own point of view and personal understanding without qualification in a literary style rather than as a scholar. The style of Weir's writing here is just to the history side of the line. I understand that other works of hers are fiction, though I imagine them, as with Schaara, fictionalized history rather than fiction in a historical setting.
Excellent book, I highly recommend. A must for Tutor enthusiasts. By the way - this covers Henry VIII through Jane Seymour and then the lives of Edward, Mary, Jane Grey (though she is not Henry's child) and Elizabeth until Elizabeth takes the thrown. The coverage of Elizabeth's life is equal in the time frame, but the time frame ends with the death of Mary. Just a brief epilogue foreshadows the actual reign of Elizabeth.
I am a fan of most biographies of British royalty, and this was a superb treat. An amazing chronicle of the children of a very controversial king. And, the apples certainly did not fall far from the tree! I can't wait to read more of her work.
I was very disappointed that this book stopped completely at the moment that Elizabeth I ascended to the throne. This book is written more like a history book and is a dry accounting of the children on their way and upon the throne. It seems to have been based on records of the time and is fairly factual. Considering this, I was interested to see at least some of the contrast in how Elizabeth would handle the monarchy, as opposed to her siblings and the affect it would have on England. According to the title, I was not under the impression that I would have to buy another book to get the information on Elizabeth. I know she is book worthy... but it was very misleading. I believe Ms. Weir owed it to her readers to at least take the time to address the same main issues that plagued both Edward and Mary at the beginning of their reigns, and contrast how Elizabeth handled them as well. Very impolite to stop where it did.
The book, as much as it was, was well written and well narrated.
Actually, I purchased this because I am a fan of Alison Weir. All the previous books were in a female voice and I found the male voice odd for this work, for some reason. There was nothing "wrong", per se, but it wasn't what I expected.
I thought the inclusion of Jane Grey odd, given the title.
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