Tag Archives: Henry VIII

Book Review: Henry VIII by William Shakespeare (3/5)

15 Jan

I only picked this one because I needed a book for the time period. I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan though I’ve enjoyed his plays when performed. Reading them is never as fun. However, I’ve got my time period now and completed the 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge so this was an overall win.

Cover image via Goodreads

Henry VIII by William Shakespeare

Other books by Shakespeare reviewed on this blog:

The Tempest

Summary from Goodreads:

Henry VIII is a history play generally believed to be a collaboration between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the life of Henry VIII of England. An alternative title, All is True, is recorded in contemporary documents, the title Henry VIII not appearing until the play’s publication in the First Folio of 1623. Stylistic evidence indicates that individual scenes were written by either Shakespeare or his collaborator and successor, John Fletcher. It is also somewhat characteristic of the late romances in its structure. It is noted for having more stage directions than any of Shakespeare’s other plays.

I didn’t know what to expect from this play. I was fairly certain that Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare were contemporaries so I wondered how he’d portray the father of the monarch. Rather favorably, it would seem. And of course, words on Anne Boylen were very favorable, as she’s the mother of the queen. The play cut off before her beheading. I tried to think what Elizabeth I would think about this play and Shakespeare’s motivation for writing it while I was reading.

Based on what I’ve read, the representation of Henry VIII was surprisingly complementary. He seems to be one who was inclined to satisfy every whim and who was quick to anger. That wasn’t his character in the story who came across as benevolent and understanding. We don’t see much of Anne Boylen so it’s hard to say if I felt she was accurate. Queen Katherine seemed in line with what I remember of her in history, pious and punished for nothing more than being old. I was surprised she was so favorably portrayed because of the drama between her and Queen Anne as they competed for Henry VIII’s affections.

I didn’t have a favorite character, really. We didn’t get very deep into anyone. This is a history play, after all. Some of the duke’s had personalities more than the historical characters I focused on because of my interest, but even then, it was minimal.

The characters in this one weren’t very relatable to me.  There wasn’t much of a personality to connect with. Again, I blame the history format.

William Shakespeare
Image via Wikipedia

I like Katherine of Aragon as a historical figure so I was intrigued by her portrayal and specifically her final scene. I felt it was well done and written in a very respectful way. I knew it was coming so it was no surprise. It made me sad for her and that was what I expected so it felt right to me.

There wasn’t a part that I particularly disliked. The scenes with all the Dukes talking was hard to follow when written but that would be easily solved with a production. Nothing struck me as annoying or poorly done, it was just that overall, it wasn’t very dramatic and it wasn’t very engaging as such.

Loyalty was very important to Henry VIII and he would punish those he felt betrayed him or committed treason in any sense. I felt this was well showcased in the book and I was glad Shakespeare touched on that. Loyalty can mean different things and be rewarded or punished in different ways. Katherine felt she was loyal but her inability to produce a male heir was punished. The Duke of Buckingham criticizes Wolsey and is punished. I saw this as a bit of a cautionary tale for anyone in contact with the royal family. Even the high can fall.

Writer’s Takeaway: As I said at the beginning, you have to keep in mind why Shakespeare wrote this play. He was educating the people about things that had happened during the reign of Henry VIII. He’s also keeping in mind that the man’s daughter was recently queen. There was an agenda in this play. That doesn’t mean it has to be devoid of characters and plot, but it can mean it’s not as strong there as other works by Shakespeare. I appreciated this for what it was and I see why Shakespeare wrote it in the light he did.

I enjoyed this play, but it would have probably been better on stage. Three out of Five Stars

This book fulfilled the final time period of 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge, 1600-1699. I’ve now started on the 2019 challenge and I hope you’ll all join me!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
“Henry VIII” by William Shakespeare (1613) | Fell From Fiction
Shakespeare (and Fletcher’s) Henry VIII | ConradBurnstrom
“My Drops of Tears I’ll Turn to Sparks of Fire” | What’s in a Play?

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WWW Wednesday, 2-January-2019

2 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ve been moving slowly through Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott because of the holidays. With no work, my days are much less structured and I’m not getting anything done. Oh well. This has wonderfully short chapters that make it far too easy to put down and take a nap.
Without work, I’m not driving much so The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan has been slow to start. I’m still on the first disk and I know I’ll get into it soon but I’m enjoying the exposition and not rushing it for now.
Bad weather means more indoor workouts and that’s helping me move through Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson quickly. I’m also getting an added ab workout by listening to this while doing other things. It’s kind of wonderful.
My husband and I started Before the Fall by Noah Hawley on the 26th and we made some pretty good progress driving to and from Christmas. I don’t know how much more of it we’ll listen to together before we go our separate ways, but we’re enjoying it for now.

Recently finished: I pushed through and finished Henry VIII by William Shakespeare so I could wrap up my 2018 When Are You Reading? Challenge. I’m so glad I’m done! I’m also glad I rearranged the time periods so I don’t have to squeeze in a late Shakespeare in December to finish it again. It was interesting to get yet another take on the Henry VIII/Katherine of Aragon/Anne Boleyn time. I read a lot about that period already.

No reviews this week though I owe you a few. I’ll work on them and get them out to you next week, promise!

Reading Next: I’ll start my annual Spanish read as soon as I finish Lamott. It’s going to be Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I bought a Spanish copy last summer when I visited Powell’s and I’m so excited to finally read it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 26-December-2018

26 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m out of lunch breaks for the year and I really have to finish Henry VIII by William Shakespeare! This is my last book for the When Are You Reading? Challenge 2018. If this isn’t finished before the end of the year, I’m going to be very mad at myself.
I’m enjoying Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott but the holidays have kept me busy and away from it more than I’d like. I’m sure I’ll get it wrapped up, it may just be in January.
I started two new audiobooks! I finished my physical audiobook in my car and decided to start on another whopper, The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. It’s a whopping 21 disks long (though I swear the book doesn’t look that long!) so I’ll be on this one for quite a while.
I started a new eaudiobook as well, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I read Lawson’s first book for a book club a few years ago and loved it. My brother gave me a signed copy of this book for Christmas a few years ago and I’m finally listening to it because I’m paranoid about a signed book being damaged.

Recently finished: I was able to finish up The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati while baking Christmas cookies, which was a wonderful way to finish a book. I was really disappointed in the ending despite great writing and good characters. I debated my rating for a while but ultimately ended on Three out of Five Stars. I’ll be reviewing more books in the new year.
I wrapped up People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks over the weekend as well. I liked the ending of this one more, but there was one flaw in the main character that really peeved me right at the end. Another Three out of Five Stars rating.

Reading Next: I’ll start Before the Fall by Noah Hawley later today as my husband and I head to Ohio for family Christmas. I’m getting excited!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-December-2018

19 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I have been utilizing my baking time to listen to The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I felt like I was absorbing the story well, but there’s a new character and I can’t remember where she came from. Maybe I’m not as great at audiobooks as I thought.
I’m still making progress with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks though it has slowed down. I think I’ll finish by the end of the year. I think.
There have been a lot of lunches where I don’t read Henry VIII by William Shakespeare which has slowed me down a bit. I’m determined to finish this one so I can wrap up my reading challenge, so I’m still confident I’ll finish it!
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott has been enjoyable so far. She’s very funny and I like her simple writing advice. It makes me feel like I can still be a writer!

Recently finished: Nothing this week. I’m feeling good about next week, though! I think I’ll have a fair number to put here, at least one with a goal of up to three!

I was able to post my review of Brainiac by Ken Jennings on Thursday. It was a really fun read, great for vacation. I gave it Four out of Five stars.

Reading Next: I found a copy of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and convinced him it will be an awesome one to listen to in the car. Honestly, it didn’t take a lot of convincing, he’s pretty relaxed and trusts my book recommendations. Smart man.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-December-2018

12 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m a bit slower with The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati now that I can’t run outside. I’m avoiding the ‘dreadmill’ as much as possible. I got a few hours in while running on vacation, though!
Being out-of-town didn’t help me make progress with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I’m optimistic about finishing it now that I’m over halfway through. I’ll have to run some errands, I guess!
I made it to Act 2 of Henry VIII by William Shakespeare. I think I’m finally catching on to the plot. It helps a lot to know the time period well! I’ve read too many books, seen too many movies, and watched too many shoes about Henry VIII to be completely clueless!
I just started reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This was one a writer-group friend brought up constantly and I figured I had it read it. It may have taken me five years, but I’m getting to it!

Recently finished: I utilized my vacation time well and got through a whole book! It was perfect because I finished Brainiac by Ken Jennings while waiting for our ride to pick us up at the airport once we landed in Detroit. I celebrated by starting the Netflix episodes of Jeopardy! that are available. I think Ken will be in the Decade Tournament that’s available. My review will be up tomorrow.

I got a few reviews posted as well. Monday I was able to post about Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I gave it Four out of Five Stars because I liked the adventure and I appreciate all the pirate references that were taken from this classic tale.
I also reviewed The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl on Tuesday. Honestly, this isn’t one I enjoyed so much. I gave it only Two out of Five Stars and even then I was thinking I might lower the rating.

Reading Next: I’m taking my husband into listening to Before the Fall by Noah Hawley with me when we make our annual Christmas drive to Southern Ohio. To those who have read it, is this one we could both enjoy on a long car ride?


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-December-2018

5 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I feel like I’ll be listening to The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati for the rest of my life. It’s very long and I’m only half way through it. I also keep thinking that halfway through this book is longer than most other books I’ve read this year. I’m loving it, so there’s no hardship.
I’m still moving forward with People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks but it’s a slower crawl. I’m glad I’m not spending as much time in the car, but I miss going through books quickly!
I’m finishing up my historical fiction challenge with a Shakespeare and I decided on Henry VIII. I’m not very far along yet and I’m already a bit confused about what is happening, but that’s normal for me in a Shakespeare play. I’m sure I’ll figure it out before long.
I was able to pick a book off of my TBR and grabbed Brainiac by Ken Jennings. If you’re a huge Jeopardy nerd like me, you’ll recognize Jennings as the contestant who had an epic run back in the 2004 time frame. I watched him every night with my mom. I’m so excited to hear what he has to say about other trivia buffs.

Recently finished: I finished Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson during my lunch. I’m so glad I did, I felt like I was dragging in this one and I’d never finish it. But somewhere around 60% I just dug in and powered on. I can’t wait to watch the Muppet version to compare!
I finally wrapped up The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl! Before you ask, no, the ending did not make up for the slow plot. I’ll be reviewing this next week but I already know it won’t score high.

Reading Next: I’ve decided to wait on Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and do it on audio CD when I finish People. I don’t have to get to this one any time soon, so I’ll take my time and wait.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!