Monday, 28 May 2012

Review: Fitzroy, The Boy Who Would Be King by Kathleen S. Allen


Author’s name:            Kathleen S. Allen
Publisher: Self
Year: 2011
Price in sterling: £6.27 pb / £1.91 Kindle
211 of pages
ISBN: 1461195098

This novella, aimed at Young Adults, tells the story of Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate sone of Henry VIII and tells his tragic story.  Almost from birth the boy is used as a pawn in his father’s plans to secure a male heir.  He is removed from his mother at a young age and sent to Court where he is told to learn the ways of a gentleman as one day he may be King of England.  The story moves along at pace, but it is not easy reading.  The sense of disappointment and fear the young FitzRoy feels and the intimidating presence of his father the King is prevalent from very early on.  The young Royal is taught by the finest minds in all England and bestowed lands and titles that make him an attractive and powerful man, should he wish it.  However, the only thing FitzRoy wants is to be loved.  He misses his mother and, rather foolishly, falls in love with his father’s wife Anne Boleyn.

Reviewing historical fiction is not an easy thing to do.  You need to strike a balance between allowing the author artistic licence and keeping the history accurate and relevant.  When it comes to writing for adults, the lines are a lot clearer, but when a story is aimed at young adults it is not always so easy to define.  My own opinion is that the story has to come first.  If a young person is interested enough in a subject to read the story then they should be left with a thirst to find out the historical facts behind it. 

Kathleen Allen has written an intriguing story that is full of emotion.  You cannot fail but be swept along in the narrative which is engaging and concise.  She includes a paragraph at the end, admitting to taking liberties with accuracy to tell her story.  Personally, I will indulge her because it may not be textbook accurate, but she knows how to tell a story.

1 comment:

  1. As you know, I am pretty easygoing on historical fiction taking liberties with facts. But this has a real feeling of 'yuck' to me. For one thing, Richmond was loved by his father. And I am not really fond of dragging in Anne Boleyn even to places where she does not belong. I hope the author chooses a more palatable storyline next time since incest (or almost) as a storyline does not seem appropriate for a children's book.