Each of King Henry VIII’s six wives were very different from each other, so what better way to tell their stories than with six different authors? Award-winning and bestselling young adult writers M.T. Anderson, Jennifer Donnelly, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Deborah Hopkinson, Linda Sue Park and Lisa Ann Sandell have joined forces to give the wives a distinctive voice of their own in this unique novel.
As Donnelly points out in a preface to Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry III Tell All, much has been written about Henry VIII, but the wives have often been reduced to caricatures. We know their lineage, how they came to be noticed by the king and how they ended, and several of their letters are extant, but how they truly felt is left to speculation. These writers have taken on the task of telling the queen’s stories “in their own words.” Though each a work of fiction, the stories are still based on historical research—which is listed in the bibliographic afterword. Anderson weaves his imagined thoughts of the king between the women’s stories and adds a final look at his heir, Queen Elizabeth.
The varying personalities of Henry’s wives can be felt palpably and deeply in this novel. The first-person voice lends an immediacy that allows the reader to connect with each woman. This also means that each wife is a sympathetic character —for who would portray themselves otherwise?—which may or may not be an accurate representation. Still, Fatal Throne is a fun read and great introduction to a turning point in English history.
Jennifer Bruer Kitchel is the librarian for a Pre-K through 8th level Catholic school.