Barnes, Margaret Campbell. 1959/2009. King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew Their Secrets. Sourcebooks. 320 pages.
I'll be honest. I think you have to be a certain kind of reader to appreciate King's Fool. This is a novelization of the life of Will Somers, the court jester of King Henry VIII and all six of his wives. This is a man who knew the king, knew his advisors, knew his wives, knew his children. If you're like me at all--if you love reading fiction and nonfiction about these very turbulent yet intriguing times in the royal court, then King's Fool is almost as good as candy. Rich in historical detail--religious, political, and lusty squabbles--the book provides a thorough insider's look at the life and times of Henry VIII. Will begins his time at court--quite by accident it turns out--during the King's first marriage. Will became quite devoted to both Katherine and her daughter, Mary. Of course, as the novel progresses and Henry begins desposing and obtaining wives with an almost madness, Will is there as a witness to it all. Not always approving--far from it--yet remaining in a position when those around him are losing their lives right and left. The fact that Will remained a constant--that no one maneuvered and plotted against him is remarkable. It was dangerous to be present at Court. Whether you're innocent or guilty of treason mattered little if someone decided to oust you. You could be set up just like that and lose your life. True, his role as jester made him the funny man. The man whose words had no perceived "power." Whether his words were meant as a jest or in all seriousness, he could always be presumed to be making a joke. Thus his true witticisms, his biting sarcasm wasn't perceived as dangerous or treacherous. Though the king may not have always laughed. The book, I feel, is very interesting. As the story progresses, my interest deepened. By the second half, it was a book I had a hard time putting down. Long story short, I just loved this one. But it's not one that I could recommend to just anyone. I think you have to love history.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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