Falling for Henry: A Novel.
Written by Beverley Brenna Red Deer Press, 2011 978-0-88995-442-7 (pb) $12.95 for Grade 7 and up
Fiction | Historical Fiction | Time-slip | Tudor England | Loneliness | Loss
Uncommunicative since the death of her father, 15-year-old Kate Allen endures an unwanted move to London where she must stay with a caring but overbearing sister, attend a school where her aloofness is taken for haughtiness and battle feelings of self-loathing, apathy and abandonment. When Kate is transported through time to Tudor England, inhabiting the body of a young Katherine of Aragon, she believes she has found an escape from her troubles through romance with the young, beguiling and attractive Henry VIII. But can her betrothal to the mercurial future king be worth her freedom? And is the loss she seeks to escape an inevitable part of living?
Tudor England comes alive under Brenna's meticulous research (her author's note and interview illuminate her sources and process). Atmospheric descriptions of the palace dining hall and the steaming kitchen are fascinating. Teens who, like Kate, find history boring may be caught up in her plight where ignorance of the beliefs, conditions and decorum of the day can have deadly consequences. Brenna's characters are complex, their thoughts often philosophical and poetic. Her novel is tightly edited and intelligent, seamlessly weaving together subjects like the historical extinction of wolves in England and tachyon theory. Themes of love, loss and self-acceptance should appeal to a variety of fiction and non-fiction readers, from teens to adults.
Brenna's past fiction has won awards and her first historical fiction novel should as well. Public and school libraries would be wise to purchase a copy in advance.
Please note: Some tables or figures were omitted from this article.