Title: The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican
Author: Catherine Fletcher
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Genre: History, Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Many people are aware of the story of Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon, but few know what was happening behind the scenes at the Vatican. Catherine Fletcher takes the reader to Italy during this time period to uncover the actions of Gregorio Casali, the man who presented the English king’s divorce case to the Pope.
It’s always interesting to read about well-known historical events from unique points of view, so my curiosity was definitely piqued by The Divorce of Henry VIII. I’ve read countless books on this topic, both non-fiction and fiction alike, but I’d never read anything that told the story of what actually happened at the Vatican during the years Henry VIII was trying to achieve a divorce.
It’s a good thing I’d read all those accounts, though, because The Divorce of Henry VIII gives little background on these events. Fletcher assumes the reader knows the political situation and the people involved in it well; she doesn’t spare time to give the overarching explanations or set up the pieces. This is very much a niche book that focuses in narrowly on one man and his actions in the larger spectrum of Henry VIII’s divorce case. If you’re looking for a broad book analyzing Henry VIII’s divorce, this isn’t the one you should pick up.
The Divorce of Henry VIII is jam-packed full of interesting information and unique tidbits about the king’s divorce. I wasn’t aware of much of this information previously, and it helped flesh out the story of what was happening in Rome during this time period. The book focuses just as much on internal politics in Italy as it does on the king’s divorce, so it’s good if you’re looking for some background on what was happening in other areas simultaneously. However, the book does suffer from extremely dry writing, which makes it difficult to read. It feels a bit jumbled and doesn’t have a cohesive narrative. While the book does deliver interesting information, it’s not an easy, enjoyable read.
If you’re a fan of all things Tudor and seek out any book you can find on the subject, The Divorce of Henry VIII might be a good book to pick up. Alternatively, if you’re a historian and are used to difficult writing, again, this would be a good choice. But if you’re a layperson seeking out an interesting, informative read, you should be warned that this book can be difficult. It’s got amazing information packed into its pages, but it’s not set up for someone that isn’t fully informed about the history and people involved.