This is a book for advanced Tudor fans. If you know nothing about the Tudors, this is not the book for you.
Originally published in 1878, The Six Marriages of Henry VIII is like the farsical love child of The Spanish Chronicle and Agnes Strickland, uniting Agnes’ pretense at biography with the Spanish Chronicle’s tendency to “bring some scenes to life.” Oh, and it’s all told in the snark of Charles de Marillac, the French ambassador to Henry’s court during some key years.
Jules D’Argis repeats a lot of the over-the-top, no-this-never-happened stories – and invents new ones, many of which are based on the cultural practices he was familiar with and therefore tell us a lot about his own era. In a scene right out of a Bronte novel, D’Argis trots out a fortune teller to warn Anne Boleyn of the dangers that await her; elsewhere he speaks of the court going to Brighton to enjoy the seashore. Unfortunately, D’Argis also shows us what an antisemitic place France was at the time, in a gratuitous scene showing a jeweler who must remake for Jane Seymour a diamond and ruby necklace once destined for her predecessor. I eliminated the slurs but left the scene in, knowing that he had already proved his poor judgment by that point (he thought Anne had in fact slept with Norris, for goodness’ sake!).
In all, it’s a wild read. Tudorholics will love to see how England’s historic rival told the stories of the Tudors, especially closer to the actual events. But, truly, if you want accuracy, you’re better off with my fiction! 😉