Terry Tyler’s book, Kings and Queens, is a fast-paced romp through the life of England’s Henry VIII, but set in modern times with modern characters. For anyone who knows the story of Henry’s six wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) and for those with a wicked enjoyment of the foibles of historical figures, this book roars.
Even if you are not a fan of English history and know nothing of the metaphors and references the author has slyly inserted into the story, this book will draw you in as contemporary fiction, demonstrating that the human foibles are ageless and that a historical family drama can repeat itself.
Harry Lanchester, red-headed, fun-loving, ne’er do well, inherits the reins of a large property development company when his older brother Alex, the heir apparent, is killed. His story is told by the contemporary counterparts of each of Henry VIII’s six wives – actually five wives and a nanny who loves Harry but is rejected. The calm and insightful perspective of Will Brandon, Henry’s best and oldest friend, weaves together their unique and compelling voices.
The author has done a yeoman’s job of integrating historical figures from Tudor times. Charles Brandon, for example, was Henry VIII’s oldest friend, once married to his sister, Mary Tudor. The modern Will Brandon was married for a time to Harry’s sister Dahlia. Other names with Tudor ties – Rochford, Blunt, Wyatt, Seymour and Dudley – find their way into the narrative.
The characters are wonderful – from the self-indulgent, over-bearing, charismatic Harry, to the motherly older Cathy, the stunning and driven Annette, the sweet and simple Jenny, the frumpish but practical nanny Hannah, the former lap dancer Keira, and the patient and understanding final wife, Kate. These women lead you down the twisting, never-boring road of life in the Lanchester family.
This is a great read, and I’m looking forward to a sequel featuring the Lanchester children, especially the son Harry wanted so much he was willing to marry again and again to get: the spoiled and entitled Jasper.
Kings and Queens is rich in the sins and peccadillos of the wealthy and entitled, those that captivate readers across the board. Bravo to Terry Tyler for giving us such a sumptuous read with a grand historical twist.