We’re the best secret club ever. We’re the queens club. And we’ve got this.
Once for school I wrote a research paper on Henry VIII, his break with Catholicism and the role his many wives played in this. So when a friend suggested a modern retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives I knew i had to read it. And this book did not disappoint at all.
Going into this book you do not need an extensive well of knowledge about the wives of Henry VIII, the story will unfold in its own time, and while it does this it will start t all make sense. A basic understanding of the wives and what they were known for might be of help when you first start reading the book, because otherwise it might become confusing at some parts.
That being said i starting finding the book much more interesting once i went to Wikipedia and started reading all the details of all the wives lives, because i started being able to guess and predict what was gonna happen. I found myself reading through all the Wiki pages for every one of the real people in the english court instead of actually reading the novel, because I started finding that just as interesting.
And on the basis of those late night Wikipedia reads, as well as the research i did once, i can tell you that Capin did an amazing job weaving the fictional world with the real historic events. I even found myself being baffled at how detailed she managed to make the story in terms of historical detail, while still keeping it so modern.
But then Anna lost it, and then the Tower happened.
In terms of the story itself, it was a bit slow at first and I was even contemplating DNF’ing it because i felt kind of disappointed. I had a hard time getting into it and i didn’t feel like i truly understood the references, but all this changes about 1/4 into the novel, this was when i went on the Wiki rampage, and also when the story started picking up a lot more.
Once the story picks up it becomes a lot easier to read, and I started marathoning it. I started actually loving being in Cleves’ head, and I actually found her humor funny, which is something that rarely happens when I’m reading these supposed humorous narrators. Cleves was a great narrator and I don’t think this concept wold have worked with any of the other wives as the narrator, because it just made sense for some reason.
Capin did a great job translating the story into a modern context, with Cleves being a feminist, and the entire story having a feminist tone. It gives faces to Henry’s wives who we have a tendency to often think of as being two-dimensional and only apparent by one characteristic they’ve been given. In The Dead Queens Club, all these women get a voice and they get to be three-dimensional characters you feel for – both positively and negatively.
Then I park my ass in my seat and hide my phone in my textbook and start typing the world’s most vitriolic op-ed. About Katie. About Anna. About how much everybody sucks for their slut-shaming and their victim-blaming. About girls who can’t say no and boys who share pictures nobody was supposed to see. About whore and bitch and tease.
The Dead Queens Club is a great retelling of the historical events surrounding the six wives of Henry VIII, although it might be a but slow in the beginning it picks up rather quickly. It manages to turn the tale into something more modern and feminist, and actually worthy of our time.