King's Fool, by Margaret Campbell Barnes
What better way to celebrate April Fool's Day than a closer look at Margaret Campbell Barnes' novel, King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets?
Yes, I know, ol' Henry the VIII and his surplus of wives has been a bit overdone as of late. But this one was originally published in 1959 and Barnes knew what she was doing here.
The tale is told by Will Somers, a man who had a remarkably well-documented career as the King's fool from early in Henry's reign all the way through to his death. (Sound familiar? Margaret George used a similar idea for her 1986 novel, Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers.)
Henry and Will
The result is a compelling, highly readable portrait of a man who, in his early years, was truly and legitimately concerned with the production of a male heir. He emerges as a man, not the legend: a remarkable and accomplished man who had his fair share of weaknesses and faults.
Intertwined with Henry's story is a compelling look at Will Somers himself. From his humble beginnings as a lowly farmboy of no significance to his incredible rise at court, the King's fool himself is a fascinating character and well worth the read here.
Do you think the cover art depicting a woman missing her head is a coincidence?
Neither do we.
Sourcebooks Landmark (one of our favorite publishers!) is re-releasing this historical fiction staple today, April 1, 2009. If you enjoy Tudor history, you won't be disappointed in this one!
Of course, if you're interested in reading this one, you could always leave A Reader's Respite a comment here and on Monday, April 6th, our blog secretary will draw a random winner!
Title: King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew Their Secrets
Author: Margaret Campbell Barnes
Publisher: Sourcemarks Landmark
Date: April 1, 2009
For my research-inclined readers, some more reviews:
Passages to the Past
The Tome Traveller
Giving Reading a Chance