Queens of Heart

On Thanksgiving morning, while enjoying my coffee and watching the parades, I discovered that there is a popular musical comedy on Broadway right now called Six – The Musical.  It’s about the six wives of Henry VIII.  Really?  Of his six wives, only one truly survived (Anne of Cleves) and came out of her marriage debacle in relatively good shape.  So now we have a musical about a wife cast aside, two wives beheaded, one wife dead from childbirth complications and his last wife, while surviving, also dead in childbirth after marrying again to a man whom history suggests only wanted her because she was the Queen Dowager.  Somehow all this death and destruction doesn’t seem like the stuff of comedic song and dance.  (Of course who would have thought the plight of five women accused of murder in Chicago would make for a compelling musical?)

If you look up “historical fiction” you’ll find definitions that all seem to include any story that takes place in the past but that’s just silly – unless it’s sci fi, set in the future, wouldn’t every book written be historical fiction after about a week in print?  I’ve always thought of “HF” was any re-working of a historical subject/figure.  Like Hillary Mantel’s book on Robespierre and Danton during the French Revolution (and all her Wolf Hall books as well).  Or King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips.  Or The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory. And I haven’t read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly fiction and very little historical, since even Egyptologists admit to knowing extremely little about the ancient queen.

As these books sell well, I worry that future generations will think of the plots and characters as more historical than they really are.  Of course in looking up Six online, it looks like the plot doesn’t even attempt to portray history, so hopefully no one will come away thinking that wearing a choker to represent that you got beheaded is a meaningful fashion statement.

When was the War of 1812?

28 thoughts on “Queens of Heart”

    1. This is a contentious issue where I come from. His log cabin and farm are in St. Louis (although owned by the Busch family since 1903) and many people believe that Grant is buried there, but he is not. And many people feel that he should be.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. My maternal grandmother’s cousin Alfred Cluver lived in Northern Germany all his life in Rotenburg (Wumme) and wrote historical fiction in the Plattdeutsch language. The stories took place during the Thirty Years War. I saw an illustration from one of the books of a rather swashbucking soldier. I doubt any of the books are still in print. Alfred would have written them in the 40’s and 50’s, I think. Alfred was a great proponent of Plattdeutsch. When we were in Bremen, not far from Rotenburg, I noticed a Plattdeitsch Institute where one could learn the language. That would have made Alfred very happy, I think.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. In what year did people party like it’s 1999? And does anyone remember partying in 1999? Was there a certain formula one had to follow to party “correctly” in 1999? Did you have to pass a test? Maybe it’s time someone wrote some historical fiction about 1999. 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna
    *feeling surprisingly silly for 8:30 am*

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Rise and Giggle, Baboons,

    How long was the Seven Years War?

    Who participated in the French-Indian War?

    What was the idea behind the American War of Independence?

    I am working from home today. Time to prepare myself.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. I saw “Six – the Musical” at the Ordway (pre-pandemic) before it moved to Broadway. It doesn’t even pretend to be historically accurate. It was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The six wives are a girl band performing at a pop concert. They tell the audience that the position of leader of the band will be the prize for whoever had the worst experience at the hands of their common husband, Henry VIII. Each character is fashioned after a variety of current pop-divas. Even though the show is “silly”, it does address themes of female victimhood and survival. My friend and I enjoyed it – good music, fun costumes.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. YA was just scrolling through some movies and asked if I had seen “The Great”. When I said no, she said “I liked it, but you probably wouldn’t because it’s not accurate.” She knows me well.

    Liked by 2 people

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