For the pst few years, I have found myself infatuated with all books by the hand of Antonia Fraser. My inner history geek as been unleashed and I cannot devour enough of her work.
I kept seeing the name Antonia Fraser on recommended reads and in the history section of the bookstore I so often find myself in; however it weren’t until I found myself in a bookshop in Brecon that I really dived into her works.
My boyfriend introduced me to Brecon Books a few years back, which I think he came to regret pretty fast considering the stack of chunky books I came out with. Among them were two by Antonia Fraser: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (Illustrated hardback) and Mary Queen of Scots (Folio Society edition). I quickly devoured the Henry VIII read and found myself with a growing pile of books by Fraser on my desk.
As a Tudor nerd, anything that involves Henry VIII or is remotely related to him is right up my alley, so The Six Wives of Henry VIII was the perfect read for me. With sections of the book dedicated to each wife, Fraser goes in-depth through the life and events of each wife: flawlessly mapping it alongside Henry’s life too. With illustrations, paintings and images of artefacts too, it makes the book incredibly interesting and such an easy read. Instead of using complex jargon, Fraser writes in a simple and straightforward way which makes the book such a quick read.
One of the other books I picked up after enjoying the Henry book so much was Marie Antionette: A Journey. Now this one took me a little longer to work through but it was far more in depth and was ridiculously detailed in every element of Marie Antionette’s life. It also had photos of paintings, illustrations and artefacts but was more heavy with the text and information as opposed to the visuals. I never learnt much about Marie Antoinette at school and of course, I’d heard the expression let them eat cake but I didn’t know any details about her life so this book was the ideal read to fill the huge gap. Although this is the only book I have read on Marie Antionette, I imagine it is unrivalled by any others as it is so thoroughly researched and so readable for the everyday reader (like myself) that it would be hard to find another book to match it.
The other book I have read by Fraser so far, is The Warrior Queens which is a compilation of chapters about different warrior queens throughout history. From ancient times through the centuries up to the likes of Queen Elizabeth II. With a collection of chapters about Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I , Queen Jinga of Angola and the Rani of Jhansi, it presents a wealth of knowledge about these women in chunky chapters which keeps the book interesting. Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the two previous, I still applaud Fraser for her portrayal of these women and the sheer amount of research that went into composing this book.
Among my collection of books by Antonia Fraser, I also have Love and Louis XIV, The Gunpowder Plot Terror and Faith in 1605, and, as mentioned above, Mary Queen of Scots; all of which are in a pile to the side of my desk waiting to be read. Fraser also has historical works on King Charles II, The Weaker Vessels (Women in history), and Cromwell. I will probably post more once I have made my way further through my reading pile.
Cheerio for now!