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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

King's Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes

King’s Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (320 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

First published in 1959 by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, King's Fool is a remarkable insider tale of the intrigue, ruthlessness, and majesty of the Tudor court. When country lad Will Somers lands himself the plum position of jester to the mercurial King Henry VIII, he has no idea that he's just been handed a front-row seat to history.

With a seat near the throne and an ear to the floor, Somers witnesses firsthand the dizzying power struggles and sly scheming that marked the reign of the fiery Tudor king. Somers watches the rise and fall of some of the most enigmatic women in history, including the tragic Katherine of Aragon, the doomed Anne Boleyn, and Mary Tudor, who confided in the jester as she made the best of the fragile life of a princess whom everyone wished was a prince.

Based on the life of the real Will Somers, King's Fool is infused with Margaret Campbell Barnes' trademark rich detail and historical accuracy. This intimate peek into the royal chambers gives readers a unique view on one of the most tumultuous periods in English history.

Margaret Campbell Barnes’ The King’s Fool offers the fictionalized life of a real person-- Will Somers, official jester to King Henry VIII, of England. This 16th century drama documents not only Somer’s life, opportunities and loves, but all the historical events of Henry VIII's court form a backdrop to the action. Indeed, in places, the history weaves inseparably into the tale.

Somer’s early life is marked by his appreciation for, and adoration of Miss Johanna, daughter of his first employer. Somer’s simple, straightforward views, and honest feelings make him an immensely likable character throughout. Other characters are carefully detailed and utterly believable.

Barnes’ first person writing style is conversational, comfortable, and at points, perhaps a trifle slow. The immense insight and compassion (as well as more than a dose of cleverness) that is revealed in Will Somers allows this wonderful character to maintain reader interest. However, this is a far from a traditional romance. On the other hand – the 16th Century backdrop so accurately described, as well as the ins-and-outs of life at court, famous occurrences, loves and wives of the king, that all make for most interesting reading. A romance fan with an interest in history will certainly find this book engaging.

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