Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wife After Wife

Wife After Wife by Olivia Hayfield
Penguin Random House: 1/21/20
eBook review copy; 464 pages
ISBN-13: 9780593101834 

Wife After Wife by Olivia Hayfield is a recommended modern retelling of the life of Henry VIII.

Hayfield spins the story of Henry VIII into the tale of a present day womanizing media mogul. Harry Rose is head of the Rose Corporation and our stand-in for Henry VIII. The narrative opens in 2018 and then goes back to 1985 and progresses forward in time covering every affair and dalliance Harry was involved in.  For those familiar with the story of Henry VIII, Hayfield includes a list of the cast of fictional characters and the person whom their character is based on. The list is at the opening and continues at the end of the novel. For those of you who already have a vague idea about history or don't care, you can read the novel without knowing what character correlates to what real person.

The story is told through Harry's point-of-view and then the various women in his life. Hayfield deftly handles the historical aspects, covering how Harry acquires his wives and later eliminates the unwanted, and wraps it around a compelling story. As is expected, Harry is unlikable, a misogynist, and a self-centered cad. You can talk about how good looking or charismatic he is, but it seems that today women should be a little more aware - this includes in 1985. Of course money is an allure.

A plus to the story is all the pop culture touch points and popular songs of the day that Hayfield includes throughout the story. This made the story interesting and placed in firmly in the time periods in which she set the plot. It is an interesting update to the story and Hayfield does a good job creating her characters and writing the dialogue. I will admit to getting a little tired of the tale; it was the totality of Harry's bad behavior and womanizing.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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