Today a true historical masterpiece is published. Henry VIII: The Heart & the Crown is the latest novel from bestselling author Alison Weir. Ever since I was first captivated by an Alison Weir book many years ago (The Innocent Traitor), she has been one of my favourite historical novelists EVER. This new novel is a poignant, empathetic and intriguing portrait of Henry VIII, who is often regarded as one of the most notorious figures in English history. Told solely from the point of view of the man himself, it is all consuming and fascinating.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, I strongly recommend you read this book.
Henry VIII: The Heart & the Crown is the second novel in Tudor Rose Trilogy, which spans three generations of the complex and fascinating Tudor dynasty. I had the privilege of being invited to the review the first novel in the series, Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose last spring when it was published, which is the captivating story of Henry’s mother. So I couldn’t believe my luck when a copy of this second novel was sent to me in the post (thank you so much Caitlin Raynor from Headline Books for my advance gifted copy).
As I have a bit of an obsession with the Tudors, I absolutely adored reading Henry’s story. I was completely engrossed, with my feelings towards the man in flux continually. At times I found myself actually feeling sorry for him (something I never thought I would do), at other times I was so frustrated, angry and also disgusted with him. Then there were times I viewed Henry’s vanity as almost comedy. As well as being a stunning writer, I really view Alison Weir as an expert historian and what she portrays in this novel is a flawed, vain, insecure and damaged man. She also presents him as an intelligent and cultured man who is at heart, a romantic.
The new novel picks up Henry’s story in 1503 at the point his mother’s story ended. The young prince is only eleven years old and is a sad, vulnerable child. The tragic event at this time shaped Henry’s future relationships, especially with women.
As the narrative spans the following 44 years, and with Henry infamous for having six wives and changing the course of history by divorcing two of his wives and beheading another two, the complexity of his marriages is explored in intriguing detail. This is especially the case regarding his marriages to Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Rather than being presented as a cold, murderous brute, this compelling novel portrays Henry, referred to the more intimate name of Harry throughout the narrative, as a romantic, fickle and fearful man who was sometimes manipulated by those around him. Thus the relationships with the men that surrounded and influenced him are also explored in fascinating detail.
Another aspect of the novel which I found especially intriguing is Harry’s vanity and how that impacted England’s position internationally. This was brilliantly portrayed through his relationship with Francis I, the King of France. I found how these two men competed with each other completely fascinating and also almost comedy.
Thank you once again to Caitlin Raynor from Headline Books for gifting me a proof copy of this stunning historical fiction. Hence when Anne Cater from Random Things Tours invited me to the blog tour of Henry VIII: The Heart & the Crown I knew I had to be involved as this is a novel that needs to be shouted far and wide about. I am just so excited for the third book in this compelling trilogy which focuses on Henry’s first born, Mary Tudor, another complex and intriguing figure in English history. This is due to be released some time in 2024.
To follow the blog tour of Henry VIII: The Heart & the Crown, please see below.