King Henry VIII was an influential leader of his time. However, today he is mostly remembered for having six wives. He was known as a good king but a terrible husband. All his wives were very unhappy. There are many legends and rumors concerning Henry’s life. This book allows the reader to get more insight into what was really happening in the King’s palace. The story is narrated from the perspective of the sixth wife Catherine Parr. After her husband’s death the woman goes back to the palace to collect her things. There she comes across a box with five letters. It turns out that the King kept one letter from each of his wives. Catherine reads these messages to her young maid Margaret. Together they discover the former Queens’ true feelings and thoughts about King Henry.
My name is Catherine Parr. A month ago I was the Queen of England, the wife of King Henry the Eighth. Henry died and we buried him last week in St George’s Church, Windsor. Two days ago, on 16th February 1547, I went back to the palace of Whitehall, which was once my home. I wanted to take my letters and books and bring them back to my house.
Margaret, my new maid, came to the palace with me. She’s very young and doesn’t know a lot about the world. She has only just come up to London from her home in Somerset. Perhaps I was like her when I was twelve. I, too, was always asking questions and wanting answers immediately.
When we arrived at the palace, it was cold and dark. We walked into Henry’s room. I sat down in one of Henry’s large chairs in front of his wooden writing desk and looked at the pictures around the room. Next to me there was a big picture of Henry, when he was young. He was very handsome then, not like the fat old man he was later. I thought his blue eyes were watching me. I turned to Margaret and said:
‘You see that picture of the King? That’s what he was like when he was young – tall and strong and handsome. People say that he never got tired. He could go out riding all day, changing his horses nine or ten times, and then he could dance all night. He was clever, too; he could speak five languages. Will people remember him like that, or will they only remember him because he had six wives?’
‘Did he really have so many wives?’ said Margaret.
‘Yes, of course. I thought that everyone knew that.’
Margaret looked away and said, ‘We didn’t get much news from London at home, and my family’s house is a long way from the nearest village.’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ I said, smiling. ‘One day, I’ll tell you the story of my husband Henry’s life.’
On the desk in front of me there was a wooden box with a large gold H on the top. I opened it slowly and took out some old letters. Each letter was in different writing and some of them were old and yellow. One letter had a picture of a large bird on it. It was from Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
‘Margaret!’ I said. ‘I’ve found some letters from Henry’s other wives. There’s also a beautiful gold necklace and a small piece of hair.’ I looked at another letter. ‘Here’s one old letter from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. She was married to him for a very long time…