Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All

FLEMING, Candace & . 10 CDs. 12:25 hrs. Listening Library. Jun. 2018. $70. ISBN 9780525525738. digital download.
Gr 9 Up—Writing from the perspective of Henry VIII's first wife, Katharine of Aragon, Fleming immerses listeners in 16th-century England. Five other YA authors effectively present the frequently tragic experiences of his subsequent wives; each is punctuated with a brief chapter written by M.T. Anderson giving Henry's often conflicting and self-serving vantage. By reflecting on each other, on their aging and increasingly tyrannical royal husband, and on the religious and political complexities of the time, the wives demonstrate their own strengths and foibles. Justine Eyre brings to life a devout, strong, yet exploited Katharine of Aragon. Katharine McEwan gives feisty voice to a passionate woman and devoted mother in the person of Anne Boleyn, written by Stephanie Hemphill. Jayne Entwistle provides emotional insight into Lisa Sandell,'s timid, loving Jane Seymour, the only of Henry's wives to give him the male heir he so desperately desired. Heather Wild's powerful reading of Anne of Cleves combined with the clever storytelling by Jennifer Donnelly depicts an independent, self-reliant woman. Fiona Hardingham conveys Linda Sue Park's vibrant teenaged Catherine Howard who is both lustful and ingenuous. Finally, Kateryn Parr, as written by Deborah Hopkinson and read by Elizabeth Knowelden, emerges as a mature, wise, and thoughtful individual.
VERDICT Recommended for history buffs and as an engaging entry point to historical fiction.

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