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Publisher's Summary

This acclaimed best seller from popular historian Alison Weir is a fascinating look at the Tudor family dynasty and its most infamous ruler. The Six Wives of Henry VIII brings to life England’s oft-married monarch and the six wildly different but equally fascinating women who married him. Gripping from the first sentence to the last and loaded with fascinating details, Weir’s rich history is a perfect blend of scholarship and entertainment.

©1991 Alison Weir (P)2002 Recorded Books

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The Tudors At Their Best

Read from January 21 to February 01, 2013

Excellent read. I have read several books that cover the lives of the Tudors and more specifically Elizabeth, Mary and Henry. However, none had done much with the wives of Henry VIII beyond Jane Seymour having been the mother of Edward VI. So I picked this one up and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Weir has written several first class histories on this period so there is much overlap. The first third of the book was not only familiar, but in some cases a direct re-tracing of steps. However, the details were oriented toward the lives of the wives, not the politics or religion. In the middle of the book the story provides detail on not only the lives of the wives, but of Henry as a husband and private person. Weir creates a portrait of a powerful leader struggling with ruling a nation while growing older, heavier and having massive issues with fatherhood and fathering.

As the book gets to Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, Weir does not disappoint. In many respects this is the same story I've read from the point of view of the Children of Henry, the Life of Elizabeth and other histories, but from the point of view and experience of these three women. Weir creates portraits of real people which allow the reader a meaningful experience beyond a simple understanding of the facts.

All six of these women had fascinating stories. Having been married to Catherine of Aragon the longest, the largest single portion involves her life. Having been married to Catherine Howard for the shortest interval, the book tells the tale and moves on. I enjoyed Weir's following through with the stories of Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr who outlived Henry. Thus, this was truly the story of the wives from beginning to end.

32 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • Pisgah Forest, NC, United States
  • 01-01-13

Golden Oldie

What did you love best about The Six Wives of Henry VIII?

Not a new title but a solid pick for any history buff, reality-show junkie or anyone interested in reading about a king of immense capacity, talent, drive, charm, intelligence ... and unbridled lust. From a true Renaissance man of letters and politics, Henry faces the twin drives of a need for a male heir and an unrestrained sexual appetite and proceeds through his reign with increasing frustration, desire and rapacity. As complex as he is towering, the women are treated with balance and moderation. A fine listen!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Six Wives of Henry VIII?

His first wife, faithful, strong and pious, sets a standard no other wives could match.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Overview AND Sordid Details

Alison Weir is one of my favorite British historians. I've read a couple of her books in paper form, and she sold me instantly. Via audio, the tales within her pages come to life. Weir is one of those gifted storytellers who can give you both the broad strokes and the details so as to help the reader easily navigate the political and emotional landscape of a subject matter as charged and as tangled as Tudor history.

With any book on Tudor history, I always recommend to the beginner to start with Henry VIII simply because his story is highly engaging and paints the path backwards and forwards through this period. As such, this book is not one I'd automatically recommend for beginners, but I'd certainly recommend it as supplemental reading to Weir's equally amazing Henry VIII biography. That said, this book's focus keeps Henry at the forefront for obvious reasons, and so a beginner could easily start here too. The material is friendly to the novice despite bringing the queens to the spotlight.

For the more advanced student of Tudor history, it's the details and how they weave together that makes this book a winner. The backgrounds, upbringings, emotional states, intellects, and spirituality of the queens are examined and put into context with their king and his ever-changing political machine. Preconceived notions and common misconceptions about each of them are challenged and clarified. The end result is that the reader walks away not only with a better understanding of who these great women were, but also of the circumstances that forged them.

An eloquently told history deserves and eloquent narrator, and Simon Prebble is well-chosen for the task. He has that perfect "documentary voice" that makes the topic at hand seem even more dignified and polished, even in those moments when the story is clearly anything but. He readily engages the material, making it that much easier for the reader to be drawn in and immersed.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Good Narration, Great Historical Account

The Six Wives of Henry VIII / B009PRIE2K

I gave "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" five stars when I rated the text version, and I'm happy to give this audiobook the same, or at least four-and-a-half stars. I don't care for Simon Prebble as much 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". But these are minor flaws that I'm prepared to forgive for the sake of the overall text.

If you're coming to the audiobook without having read the book, this is a solid scholarly look at the six wives of Henry VIII, from the childhood of Katherine of Aragon to the death of Anne of Cleves. I especially enjoy that this book really is about the wives and not about Henry, and I also highly recommend the following companion text "The Children of Henry VIII".

~ Ana Mardoll

30 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Bridget
  • Bandon, Oregon, United States
  • 02-25-13

Cannot praise enough!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Best treatment of Henry's wives that I have ever, ever run across.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The wives - all six.

What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

His authoritive, glorious British voice was able to convey a range of emotions without sounding patronizing. Very hard in this serious book.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

You know the king- now meet the women behind him..

Any additional comments?

I've been listening to audible books for decades and this is absolutely my favorite.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Erika
  • Montgomery, AL, United States
  • 04-07-13

Great History

Where does The Six Wives of Henry VIII rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the top 10.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The beheading of Anne Boleyn and the events leading to Catherine Howard's downfall.

Any additional comments?

This was a facinating look at 6 facinating women. Ms Wier did an excellent job presenting the histories of them women and what motivated them and moved them before, during, and after their times as queen. Anyone interested in Medieval history and the history of England in general would enjoy this book.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Pam
  • United States
  • 02-17-13

Deep background for "The Tudors"

I read this book because I wanted to learn more about the characters I saw on Showtime's "The Tudors." And boy, did I! There's a lot of information here. My favorite part was the story of Catherine of Aragon, who didn't receive as much attention in the TV show. In real life, she was a complex person, flawed but very strong, and the book shows how she was a product of her family and the culture of her time.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Long Awaited, Unabridged Version! Me So Happy!

Why am I so happy? Thank you for asking.
It just so happens, that Alison Weir, is one of my all time favorite authors. And if that is not enough, Simon Prebble, is (you guessed it) one of my all time favorite narrators.
Put both of those things together, and then, add the fact that I have been waiting for this book to come out in an unabridged format, for what seems like FOREVER!
So, now you know.
This book is well worth the credit! Snap it up as soon as you can. You'll be glad you did!

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Great marriage of history and entertainment

Beautifully and meticulously written, and read by the fabulous Simon Prebble, what could be better?

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A nice companion to fictional novels of the era

If you could sum up The Six Wives of Henry VIII in three words, what would they be?

Facts Are Fun!

What did you like best about this story?

I appreciated that the book was based on historical facts, but not dry and uninteresting.

Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Great as always!

Any additional comments?

Though this book is non-fiction, the facts are still so interesting that it's occasionally hard to believe that these things actually happened.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • mollymoon1
  • 08-31-13

Nothing short of excellent

I cannot commend this book enough - it is everything you want from a history book - well read - perfectly written and executed - a comprehensive history of each of Henry VIII wives, from the pride of Catherine of Aragon, the boldness and arrogance of Anne Bolyne, the short lived and subdued reign of the Jane Seymour, the sadness of Anne of Cleeves, the naivety and calamity of Catherine Howard and the grace of Catherine Parr. Each one having a very special place in Henry's life - his seemly disregard for each and every one of them and the family, friends and characters that surround them. The barbarity of the Era and the beginning of the Church of England and all its pomp. Brilliantly researched and worth every penny of your money. Buy it, read it, listen to it, enjoy it.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 04-14-13

Pure Pleasure

An excellent book which introduces us to all King Henry's wives. I thought I knew a good deal about this subject but saw some of his relationships in a new light. Excellently written and well narrated. It is one of those books you don't want to end.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 11-04-15

History brought to life with pace and scholarship

The basic story of Henry VIII and his troubled marital history is well-known, but where this book scores is in fleshing out the details of the six women’s early life and the involvement of their extended families in conspiring to get a female relative noticed by the King and then exploiting their new privileged position, but when things went wrong heartlessly deserted the Queen to save their own skin.

Much research has obviously gone into this long book, and there is a copious amount of detail, but it never flags from being a engrossing account of how a golden young man turned into a bloated monster who connived to discard wives who failed to produce a male heir. One is reminded how high-born women were pawns in the marriage market and what a lot of skulduggery was done by their male relatives aided and abetted by sanctimonious church-men and ambitious courtiers.

The Tudors left a trail of cruelty and religious persecution that’s a blight on England's history, though often horrifying, it nevertheless makes for a riveting listen that I greatly enjoyed.

The narrator is excellent.


11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • 10-14-14

Accessible History

I am using Audible Credits at the moment to fill in the many gaps in my history knowledge, starting with the Tudors. This book was a very accessible way to quickly (well, OK it's not a quick listen, but it was easy!) gain a great insight into the incredible life of Henry Vlll via his many infamous marriages. You really do get a taste of life in his court, and of his character - monster, tyrant, charmer - or just the product of his surreal existence. The characters of his wives are well presented - I especially appreciated Anne of Cleves, lucky Anne, got away with it and had the best of all worlds!

I liked the narration which is unstated, just short of academic, never 'acted', which, as this is not one AW's fiction-histories, was just right.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Marianne Nielsen
  • 07-10-14

Superb read

What made the experience of listening to The Six Wives of Henry VIII the most enjoyable?

The author, has a unique talent to connect with the reader, by stoping to take the time to put things and attitudes in relations to today's thinking, such as the limitations women had in both speech and dress.

What other book might you compare The Six Wives of Henry VIII to, and why?

I would compare it to her other work such as Isabella the female werewolf. In as much as it explains the woman's role in the society.

Which character – as performed by Simon Prebble – was your favourite?

It would have to be ann of cleaves.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If only I could, but it is very long, which is also a blessing.

Any additional comments?

Well executed on all levels.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • ANNIE60
  • 10-02-13

Brilliant book to listen to

What made the experience of listening to The Six Wives of Henry VIII the most enjoyable?

Giving great detail of how he conducted his life

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Six Wives of Henry VIII?

Knowing Anne Bolyn was not as white as we had supposed when they married

What does Simon Prebble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Great knowledge

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No I listened over several days/weeks and enjoyed it as it went along

Any additional comments?

Good reader

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 07-26-15

Fabulous in every respect

A truly great history. A must read for anyone interested in the 16th century history of Europe.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 12-14-13

Everything the school textbook never told you

If you could sum up The Six Wives of Henry VIII in three words, what would they be?

Informative, humorous, well researched

Who was your favorite character and why?

I've always had a soft spot for Anna of Cleaves just because she's always been the cast aside one, jammed between the dead mother and the flighty young girl.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's far to big to listen to in one go, but it's very engaging to listen too how ever many sessions it takes to reach the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rosy
  • 12-02-13

Absolutely loved it...a fascinating factual story

What did you like most about The Six Wives of Henry VIII?

The whole story. It was told in a very factual way, with lots of references to historical records, but the characters were all brought to life in a very believable way.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Six Wives of Henry VIII?

The marriage of King Henry to Ann of Cleves, and the repercussions that followed. It all worked out well for them both in the end though.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Too many to pick just one

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Although this is all based on fact, you still couldn`t help but feel sadness at the way that some of the characters were treated or met their ends.

Any additional comments?

I have to admit that this isn`t the usual genre of audiobook that I choose, but I`m so very glad that I had a dabble into our history for a change. The narration was excellent, the story flowed and the characters were all well rounded, so that you got a sense of who they were. I didn`t want a romanticised version with lots of "voices", I wanted a factual account of what life would have been like in the Tudor Court. That being said, you get all the facts...but it`s still a great story to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • michael
  • 11-05-13

Great book

This is a wonderfully fluid book. The narration and detail combine to make it a treat for audio book listeners.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Stockwell
  • 03-06-16

Engaging

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it was well written and the narrator was excellent. Weir pays close attention to each wife and gives great detailing about Henry - the book has encouraged me to read other titles by the author.

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  • Emily
  • 09-02-15

Wonderfully written and spoken

Very much enjoyed this book! A great listen for any history nut :) defiantly one to recommend!

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  • Kelly
  • 05-19-15

Most educational

Voice of narrator is lovely to listen to, very thorough. Certainly learnt alot about the period.