My name is Kimberly and I'm the reader/reviewer behind Wit and Sin. Wit and Sin is a website that provides honest reviews and publicity. I primarily read and review Romance titles, but I also review Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, Mystery, and Non-Fiction titles. In addition to Wit and Sin, I am a reviewer for Joyfully Reviewed (pen name: Shayna) and Romance Junkies (pen name: Lily).
Reviewed for Wit and Sin
Wife After Wife is a fresh and imaginative retelling of the story of Henry VIII and his wives. I wasn’t sure how such an expansive story would work when whittled down to one book, but Olivia Hayfield manages it wonderfully, getting the spirit of the real life inspiration and events right while modernizing the story. Spanning from the 1980s to 2018, Wife After Wife is by turns entertaining and tragic.
Whether you know Tudor history or not, this book stands on its own, which is a mark of a good reimagining. Harry Rose’s journey from wealthy playboy to aging mogul facing the music in the modern area is as breezy and frustrating as the man himself. Harry has charm and self-esteem to spare, but he also has this irritating ability to absolve himself of any wrongdoing. Whether it’s cheating on a wife or something even worse, Harry always manages to make himself the victim or the hero, depending on the situation. He’s not a likeable character, but he’s a compelling one and you can see why each of his wives are drawn to him. Ms. Hayfield does a fantastic job with Katie (Catherine of Aragon), Harry’s first wife. She’s an honest-to-goodness kind and generous woman. She’s not saintly, nor is she perfect, and her battles with loss and depression broke my heart. She’s a well-drawn, complex character who is easy to adore and she has a core of strength and kindness which make her shine. Equally well-drawn is Ana (Anne Boleyn). She’s talented, whip-smart, and ambitious. I have a huge soft spot for Anne Boleyn, so it was incredibly easy for me to love Ana. As with her real-life counterpart, I loved and hated her trajectory, watching Harry pursue her and know she was going to give in. I pretty much hated Harry than during Ana’s time in the spotlight, but I did enjoy their tumultuous relationship until its tragic end.
Wife After Wife loses some steam after Ana is out of the picture, which is a pity. But I did love how Ms. Hayfield brought to life the rest of Harry’s wives, with the notable exception of Janette (Jane Seymour), who I found unbearably obnoxious. Anki was a fun and creative spin on Anne of Cleves and Clare (Catherine Parr) rounded out the wives perfectly. The most compelling of the latter four wives was Caitlyn (Catherine Howard). She was the most interestingly crafted alongside Katie and Ana; everything about her storyline broke my heart and once again I found myself loathing Harry. To say he’s an imperfect character would be an understatement, but Ms. Hayfield does an incredible job of blending the loathsome with the charming, creative, and sometimes loving man.
Wife After Wife is a delightfully creative retelling of history. The life and times of each decade really blend well with the story – more so than I ever could have imagined. All in all, the larger-than-life characters made this an entertaining read and I definitely would love to read more about Harry and Ana’s daughter, Eliza.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.