I’ve had an almost lifelong fascination with the history of England’s King Henry VIII and the story of his six wives and three children. This goes back to when I first learned about him in my 9th grade history class (thank you, Mr. Krislock). I’ve watched many films, TV series, and documentaries about that time period, and that is why I picked up this, written in 2014, by author Terry Tyler.
I’m not sure what genre I’d label it as, it’s equal parts romance/historical fiction, I’d guess. But it’s set in the modern era (well, it begins in the 1970’s and ends in 2007). The premise of the book is that Tyler takes the story of Henry VIII and fictionalizes it into modern England. Thus, Henry Tudor becomes Harry Lanchester. He is the heir to Lanchester Estates, a large and wealthy real estate/land developing company. And, just like Henry Tudor inherited the throne of England, Harry Lanchester inherits this company from his father, who died, when he’s just barely 18 years old.
From there, the rest of the novel details Harry’s life, as he runs his company and has his several loves, including his five (not six) wives, up until his death. For Tudor fans like myself, I believe you will enjoy spotting the parallels between real life people and events and the fictional version Tyler portrays here, including the various differences she takes.
Thus, Catherine of Aragon becomes Cathy Ferdinand, Harry’s first wife who had previously been engaged to his older brother Alex, who was originally heir to Lanchester Estates before his untimely death during a mountain climbing accident. The two fell in love while sharing their grief over Alex’s death, and married soon after he turned 18. Their marriage was happy in the beginning but eventually fell apart due to her inability to give birth to a son, which Harry desperately wanted. She had one daughter Isabella, but otherwise struggled to get pregnant and the few times she did she had miscarriages.
Anne Boleyn becomes Annette Hever, Harry’s second wife whom he unceremoniously divorced Cathy for, and whose sister Mary Harry had previously had an affair with. Like Anne, Annette rejected Harry’s advances for a long time before finally giving in. She got pregnant soon after their wedding and gave birth to daughter, Erin. But her independent ways, as well as her love for partying and nightclubs, leads to a coke addiction and a tragic ending.
Jane Seymour becomes Jenny Seymour. Wife number three, who gave birth to Harry’s son Jasper. But her life comes to an early end thanks to a senseless tragedy.
Anne of Cleves becomes Hannah Cleveley. After Jane’s death, she gets hired to be Erin and Jasper’s live-in nanny. Much is made of the fact that she’s a plain-looking fat woman. Harry initially has no interest in her, beyond her skills as a nanny, but one night while drunk Harry ends up seducing her. And they begin a brief affair, all the while she continues to works as the nanny. But that abruptly comes to an end when Harry meets someone else.
Katherine Howard becomes Keira Howard. A 19-year-old ex-stripper that Harry falls for and marries, making her wife number four. An obvious golddigger, she’s initially ecstatic to marry this rich older man, but eventually begins an affair with a younger man and actually prepares to leave Harry for him. But Harry finds out about this first, and his reaction is a bit surprising.
And finally there’s Kate Latimer, the stand-in for Catherine Parr, who becomes Harry’s fifth wife, who remains with him until his death.
Another interesting twist of this novel is that each section of the book is told in the first-person POV from each of the different women. With interludes told from the POV of Will Brandon, who is a stand-in for Henry Tudor’s lifelong best friend, Charles Brandon. To Terry Tyler’s credit, she manages to give each character a very distinctive “voice”, so it really does feel like each of the sections are written by a person. And through all of them, we get a clear picture into the mind of Harry Lanchester.
I do think even non-Tudor fans will find this enjoyable but, honestly, I have to say that I feel it is best enjoyed if you have knowledge of their historical counterparts as well as other significant events in Tudor history, which are referenced and updated throughout this novel. Terry Tyler has clearly done her historical research on this topic and it shows.
This book is captivating, and it would be a perfect Christmas gift for the Tudorphile in your life.
KINGS AND QUEENS (LANCHESTER BOOK 1)