I love Henry VIII, and so when I discovered Olivia Hayfield was releasing a modern retelling of his famous story described as “Philippa Gregory meets Jackie Collins” I was sold. While the book wasn’t QUITE what I wanted, and was a tad long, overall I enjoyed it and the innovations that Hayfield took to relocate this story from the 16th century to beginning in the 80s and ending in present day.
Harry Rose is the young tycoon set to take over his father’s media conglomerate, and when we first meet him, it’s the late 80s, his family is dead, and he’s married to a nice Catholic girl named Katie who’s struggling with fertility. You know the story from there, right? No spoilers here. There’s Ana, the upstart fashion icon who meets her demise in a quite…ridiculous way, if I do say so myself.Janette, the secretary turned wife who seems to “know” Harry. Anki, a nice girl from Ohio he meets on Alt-Life, and then Caitlyn, Ana’s distant relation and a young girl with a troubled past. Then, Clare, nurse turned wife. None of this is a spoiler, because it’s a tale as old as time, something we all learned in elementary school, but it’s interesting to see the way Hayfield tells a story. The modern innovations are interesting, the storytelling takes you on a journey and is a bit longer than I thought it needed to be, but overall, I was pleased. I hope this inspires more Henry VIII retellings. I loved Dead Queens Club back in February 2019, for example.
The writing is good, the pacing is alright, and I liked trying to tie each modern character to the historical character as I read. Give it a read if you like juicy society stories, troubled marriages, and a fresh take that gives the wives some agency. This is a great read leading into SIX on Broadway.