S/ - - CULTURE -

Tra­di­tional his­tory lessons fo­cus on the “great men” of the past, but of­ten ne­glect the pow­er­ful women whose sto­ries also de­serve to be told. Creat­ing an in­for­ma­tive and en­chant­ing story—while keep­ing fac­tual de­tails in­tact—can of­fer fresh per­spec­tives that would not be per­mis­si­ble to a his­to­rian, but that “have a value of their own,” says Weir, de­scrib­ing her nov­els as “psy­cho­log­i­cal jour­neys” that at­tempt to get inside her sub­jects’ heads to make sense of the facts from their per­spec­tive. The re­sult of­fers women from the past an im­por­tant voice.

Last year, Weir an­nounced she was work­ing on a se­ries of nov­els that would breathe new life into the dra­matic sto­ries of the wives of Eng­land’s most no­to­ri­ous king, Henry VIII. Her first novel in the se­ries tells the tale of Kather­ine of Aragon—Henry VIII’s first wife—and ar­rives in stores this spring. For this se­ries, Weir fol­lowed new leads and dug up new clues for a fresh take on the the King of Eng­land’s ill-fated wives: di­vorced, be­headed, died… di­vorced, be­headed, sur­vived.

Weir as­serts that all of her nov­els are un­der­pinned by decades of metic­u­lous re­search, but ad­mits that this hasn’t al­ways been re­flected on the jack­ets of her nov­els. “I can see how some may per­ceive the genre as low­brow,” she ex­plains, a per­cep­tion un­aided by the images of sexed-up women in pe­riod gowns and corsets that cover of many of the genre’s nov­els. “I don’t like his­tory be­ing ro­man­ti­cized in this way: I think it dumbs it down,” she says. Weir main­tains that there’s no jus­ti­fi­able rea­son to dis­tort the facts be­cause the truth of these women—or what we know of it, as his­tory is al­ways de­vel­op­ing—is even more en­thralling. “Their lives are dra­matic and tragic,” she ex­plains. “They have all the el­e­ments of pure theatre.” The first of Weir’s forth­com­ing Six Tu­dor Queens se­ries, Kather­ine of Aragon: The True Queen, is avail­able May 31, 2016.

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