Sunday, April 5, 2009

King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew Their Secrets by Margaret Campbell Barnes

He's No Fool

Will Somers starts out with a dull life in the country on the family farm. Even his family admits that he doesn't make a good farmer. That doesn't leave him with any real options, until an option lands in his lap.

Will is one of the few lucky country children that had an education. He is given to a merchant, Richard Fermer , to work for. He has a good head for numbers and he must do the books and take inventory. He is good at what he does, but it bores him. The one shining light in his new life is Joanna, Master Fermer's daughter. He knows that it would not be possible to marry her, yet he dreams of a life with her.

One day Master Fermer told Will that he would be going to Court with him to conduct business. He meets King Henry and while the king and other royalty bowl, Will cracks a joke. With that, Henry scoops up Will to be his royal fool.

Will witnesses everything at court. The six wives, Henry's mood swings, everything. He become King Henry's companion and confidante and stand by him through it all. However, he still pines for Joanna through the years.

I could go on and on about this wonderful book but I wouldn't want to give you any spoilers. This book was first published in 1959. It is now being re-published by Source Books and is coming out this month. Though it was out in 1959, I didn't find it dated by today's standards.

My only small complaint is that I would have liked it a bit longer. Some of King Henry's six wives are barely touched upon.

Margaret Campbell Barnes envelopes the reader into the pages of her book. It is a compelling read and captures the period and Will Somers well. This book is hard to put down! Highly recommended!


Thanks to Danielle L. Jackson for a ARC of this wonderful book.


  1. I want to read this! I probably should have accepted it when I was offered it! LOL!

  2. It is a goodie Marg! I really think that you would enjoy it.

  3. I really liked this one, too, especially that Anne of Cleves was given an actual character when she normally seems glossed over.

    I've linked to your review at my blog

  4. I also loved the attention to detail on Anne of Cleves! It was a treat. I will link to you review from my other blog, So Many Precious Books, So Little Time