Another triumph in the Kindred Spirits series – I adore this series, and I think this may have been the best one yet, but definitely on par with ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’ which has been up to now my favourite of the series. These books make me laugh so much and I wish that these communities of ghosts living at the likes of the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle were real.
It was hinted at in the last in the series, ‘Kindred Spirits: Ephemera’ that this book would feature that most famous King Henry VIII, and it doesn’t disappoint, as those ghosts who were closest to Henry VIII in life come together – the likes of Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. Richard III again takes centre stage as he struggles with his relationship with Henry VII and the haunting of ghosts he cares for.
The story pushes on, with every chapter adding something to the storyline, and nothing wasted. We see more and more of these characters from history – potential vulnerabilities and how they adjust to the changing modern world, and confront difficult decisions and relationships.
It’s a different way of looking at figures from the past and I really enjoy it. This book seems to bring together the communities at the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey as the previous books haven’t so it’s interesting to see ghosts intermingling in a way we haven’t in the series before. I absolutely adore these books and cannot wait for more ghostly adventures!
I was so excited to get a review copy of this book from Amberley Publishing. It doesn’t disappoint as it discusses the Tudor women across the whole period and how they compare to each other in their styles of motherhood, queenship, and relations with the men in their lives. It shows how resilient the women were and how essential they were to the dynasty. It doesn’t just examine the period 1485 to 1603 but looks at the women before this period who shaped it, like Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort, the matriarchs of the dynasty, without whom it wouldn’t have existed.
This book tries to tackle some of the prevailing myths about these women and the dominating views of the past centuries. It opens up new areas for exploration and tries to redress the balance of views on these incredible women. It’s good to focus on the women, who are often seen as supporting rather than leading figures, as the focus is often on the men who wield the power. The women of the period may have often been side-lined, but they often wielded power behind the scenes more often than in the public eye.
Although it is a long book and can seem daunting to start with, it is well worth investing the time to read it, as Amy Licence manages to sprinkle little details throughout and asks questions which make you think and consider different angles. It makes me want to delve into others of Licence’s books which are sat on my shelves, but I haven’t gotten around to reading yet! It also makes me want to know more in particular about Henry VIII’s sisters, Margaret Queen of Scotland, and Mary Duchess of Suffolk.
I would thoroughly recommend this, even if you don’t know that much about the Tudors, as it offers different angles on people sometimes overlooked in the period or misunderstood. It is easy to read and written chronologically so that if you are looking for a particular thing, it is easy to find. Obviously well-researched and concisely written.
- Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort 1437-1460
- Women as Witnesses 1460-1463
- A Queen is Made 1464-1469
- A Queen is Unmade 1469-1472
- Elizabeth of York 1472-1485
- The First Tudor Queen 1485-1486
- Dynasty in Danger 1487-1492
- Tudor Princesses 1489-1501
- The Spanish Bride 1501-1503
- The Two Margarets 1503-1509
- New Wives 1509-1515
- Widows 1513-1515
- Legacies of Love 1516-1520
- Gold 1520-1525
- Breaking the Queenship Model 1525-1533
- Wives and Daughters 1533-1534
- Queen, Interrupted 1534-1536
- The Search for Love 1533-1537
- Changing Times 1537-1540
- Women in Danger 1540-1542
- Weathering the Storm 1543-1546
- Such a Brief Happiness 1545-1549
- Dangerous Women 1547-1553
- Queens in Conflict 1553-1554
- The Half-Spanish Queen 1554-1555
- Saving the Nation’s Souls 1555-1558
- Autonomy 1558-1562
- Gender Politics 1563-1569
- The Queen’s Person 1570-1588
- Finale 1589-1603
- How the Tudor Dynasty was Built by Women 1437-1603
I have had a re-organise of my bookshelves this week; there wasn’t enough room on my nonfiction shelves anymore as I have had quite a few books gifted to me from lovely publishers for review!
I organise my books chronologically as far as I can – how do you organise yours?
I start at the top move downwards, as follows:
- General monarchy, kings and queens
- Wars of the Roses general
- Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
- Princes in the Tower
- Richard III and Anne Neville
- Tudors general
- Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
- Henry VIII
- Six Wives
- Katherine of Aragon
- Anne Boleyn
- Jane Seymour
- Anne of Cleves
- Katherine Howard
- Katherine Parr
- Edward VI
- Lady Jane Grey and her sisters
- Mary I
- Elizabeth I
- Mary Queen of Scots
- Places, palaces, castles, houses, guidebooks
- General history
Obviously this list will expand as my interests and book collection expands, I’m hoping to add books on Jack the Ripper, Regency England, and the Holocaust. I have already read around this subjects, but many borrowed from the library rather than books I own.
I have a long list from publishers still to review so look out for reviews on these in the coming months!
- John Ashdown-Hill – ‘Elizabeth Widville: Lady Grey, Edward IV’s Chief Mistress and the ‘Pink Queen’ (Pen and Sword)
- John Matusiak – ‘Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, and Sacrifice’ (The History Press)
- Matthew Lewis – ‘Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Robert Stedall – ‘Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’ (Pen and Sword)
- Amy Licence – ‘1520: the Field of the Cloth of Gold’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Heather Darsie – ‘Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Nathen Amin – ‘Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck, and Warwick’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Linda Collins & Siobhan Clarke – ‘King and Collector: Henry VIII and the Art of Kingship’ (The History Press)
- Jan-Marie Knights – ‘The Tudor Socialite: A Social Calendar of Tudor Life’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Sarah Bryson – ‘La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters’ (Amberley Publishing)
- John Jenkins – ‘The King’s Chamberlain: William Sandys of the Vyne, Chamberlain to Henry VIII’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Amy Licence – ‘Tudor Roses: From Margaret Beaufort to Elizabeth I’ (Amberley Publishing)
- Mickey Mayhew – ‘House of Tudor: A Grisly History’ (Pen and Sword)
- Stephen Browning – ‘On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes’ (Pen and Sword)
- Tony Morgan – ‘Power, Treason, and Plot in Tudor England: Margaret Clitherow: An Elizabethan Saint’
Thank you to Pen and Sword, Amberley Publishing, and The History Press for sending me complimentary copies of the above, and I promise I will try and get reviews of these up as soon as possible!
I have thoroughly enjoyed this whole series from Alison Weir and what a way to end! Although the previous two for me were the weakest (‘Anna of Kleve’ and ‘Katheryn Howard’). This one brought the series back up to the levels of the first three books in the series. Katherine Parr is often just remembered as the sixth wife and the one who survived, but this offers a new insight into her life and the people who she affected and who affected her most.
Katherine Parr has always fascinated me – she was the only one of Henry’s wives to have married twice before her marriage to the King (Katherine of Aragon was married once before) and then once after as well! She is a really intriguing woman who suffered so much through her life and died tragically as well, though at least it was a natural death rather than a beheading!
The book was full of detail and well-paced. I had thought that maybe Weir would rush through Katherine’s first two marriages, but she didn’t, and I think that was actually my favourite part of the book – the bit that I know least about, and certainly is least written about Katherine. The focus tends to be on her royal marriage and her fourth marriage to Thomas Seymour and the controversy with Elizabeth, but it was these early marriages which really shaped her, so it was super interesting to read about those in a fictionalised way.
The ideas of betrayal and religion run throughout as Katherine struggles not to betray her own religious beliefs, or her feelings about Thomas Seymour, to those around her. This was a tumultuous period in English history where religion was very much an open question and Weir handles it sensitively with the views of the time not marred too much by the sensibilities of the present.
This was an excellent book to finish the series off on and this is certainly a series I will come back to again and re-read.
Thanks to Pen and Sword Books for sending me a copy of this to review.
I really enjoyed this book, and I thought that the conception of 100 objects that could explain Henry VIII and his reign was an interesting one. What didn’t quite work for me, however, was that they aren’t all objects – there are people like Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and whole places like Eltham Palace.
The book was generally well-researched and much of the information matched what I had read in other places. However, there were several errors which concerned me hence I would give it a 3-star rating rather than the 4-star rating I would otherwise have given. It was said at one point that Anne Boleyn was arrested in 1533 but it was actually 1536, and Margaret Beaufort was described as the Duchess of Richmond when she was actually Countess of Richmond. There were several other similar errors which made me question how much I could believe.
The way the text was written was clear and concise, easy to understand even for those not versed in Tudor history. There were a huge number of images, on almost every page, highlighting the objects described; many from the author’s own collection, which demonstrates that the research was done, and that Kendall has visited and seen many of the places and objects that he describes.
The objects are listed chronologically from Henry VIII’s birth at Greenwich Palace to his burial at Windsor Castle. Each object is accompanied by a description of the events that accompany each object through Henry VIII’s life. It’s a very interesting way to explore the king’s life.
I would recommend this to any Tudor enthusiast, but you need to be aware of the errors throughout. What is particularly interesting about this is the information about the objects rather than the general history.
- Page 14 – Anne Boleyn arrested in 1533 but it should be 1536.
- Page 23 – Margaret Beaufort as Duchess of Richmond but should be Countess of Richmond.
- Page 56 – James VI of Scotland killed at Flodden but should be James IV.
- Page 144 – Henry VIII and Jane Seymour married on 20th May but actually betrothed on 20th and married on 30th May.
- Page 184 – Mark Seaton, should be Mark Smeaton.
- Page 208 – Smeaton was hanged but he was actually beheaded.
- Page 265 – Anne of Cleves betrothed to the Marquis of Lorraine, but it was actually the Duke of Lorraine.
- Page 285 – Katherine Howard having an affair with Culpeper aided by Lady Rochford in 1533 but should be 1541.
- Page 296 – Katherine Howard taken to the Tower in 1532 but should be 1542.
- Page 329 – Henry VIII died on 8 January 1547 but should be 28 January 1547.
For anyone who follows me on Instagram (@tudorblogger) you might have been following my lockdown sewing journey to sew Henry VIII and his Six Wives.
The pattern can be found here – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/DMC-Henry-Stitch-Cotton-Various/dp/B0046AADZ2/
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind with some weeks where I have sewn a lot more than other weeks, depending on what has been going on in my life. It has been a difficult few months, but sewing this project has given me a much-needed distraction and when I get it framed it will look amazing hanging above the desk in my study.
To see my progress, click through the below gallery.
“The afterlife is alive with possibility”
I have loved Jennifer Wilson’s writing since I discovered her books while working at my local library. When I found out that this was a collection of short stories, I was a little disappointed – I really wanted a story set at Windsor Castle with Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Henry VIII, but hopefully that will come in the future.
There are characters both old and new including Richard III, John of Gaunt, and Charles Brandon. The variation of characters from so many different periods is one of the things that I love about this series, and this short story collection is brilliant in that respect. It was interesting to see how the different personalities interacted, particularly the likes of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, who hadn’t seen each other since Katherine left court in 1531, as well as Edward IV and Richard III, who hadn’t seen each other since Edward IV died in 1483.
Locations include York, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and St Paul’s Cathedral. There are so many important historical locations in Britain, and what I really liked about this collection was that we got to visit so many of them.
My favourite story in the collection is the one at Hampton Court where the six wives of Henry VIII get together. I really wanted the story to be longer actually, but I don’t think it would have been as good had it been longer. It was brilliantly done the way it was. There is a great cliff-hanger at the end, which I really hope lays the foundation for the next book in the series.
Also published on my sister blog https://bookbloggerish.wordpress.com/
I sometimes get asked what the best books are on the Tudors, or what my favourites are. I’ve decided to list my top 5 here with a short review, trying to mix different topics and styles, though my focus is primarily on the political history and the figures involved in the period rather than the social or military history that I know some people prefer. My favourite books also seem to be largely related to women, as I am fascinated by the ideas of gender and power in the Tudor period.
TITLE – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
AUTHOR – Eric Ives
FIRST PUBLISHED – 1986
REVIEW – Eric Ives’s offering about Anne Boleyn is one of the first books I read about Anne Boleyn when I was working on my undergraduate History dissertation. It gripped me from the very start as his arguments are clear and concise, and written in a way that is easy to just get sucked into. He talks about aspects of her life that were overlooked before this point like portraiture, her childhood, and her relationship with her daughter. Ives does Anne justice by not just focusing on the obvious angles.
TITLE – Tudor: The Family Story
AUTHOR – Leanda de Lisle
FIRST PUBLISHED – 2013
REVIEW – I was excited when this book first came out, as it was the most comprehensive history of the Tudor dynasty up to this point. I wasn’t disappointed as it provided detailed biographies of the key figures including those prior to Henry VII taking the throne like his father, grandparents, and assorted other relatives. The book was excellently researched with an extensive bibliography – I’m tempted to call it a Tudor Bible! A must-read for any Tudor historians to keep on their bookshelf.
Continue reading “Top 5 Tudor Non-Fiction Books”