Monday, October 06, 2008

Six Wives in the Vegetable World

I have lately been ruled by the vegetable world: tomatoes, endless tomatoes, tomato sauce for dinner every night, simmering on the stove while I absently read the newspaper. Baked eggplants, doomed never to be eaten. (We have quite a few scooped eggplants in the refrigerator, but no tahini so we never make our dip. When asked what tahini is, I always vaguely say, "They sell it at the health food store." If I remember correctly, it's like peanut butter. So can I just use Skippy?) I'm also harvesting hot peppers so horrifyingly spicy one dares use only a sliver in cooking . It is one big vegetable world, in fact.

So the other day, bored with the vegetable world, I visited a bookstore, and while browsing in the "If You Like This, You'll Like This" section, I discovered Alison Weir's beautifully written and thoroughly researched history, The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Between Alison Weir's scholarship and Philippa Gregory's historical novel,The Other Boleyn Girl (yes, I enjoy this racy interpretation of the facts), I am taking a crash course in Boleyns and rapidly filling in the gaps. The clarity and organization of Weir's work is especially impressive.. I can dip into it and learn quickly about the period. (I'm using it as a reference book.) She explains confidently (and not in the subjunctive) her various sources and different historians' interpretations. The basics are necessary to understand the elusive quality of Jane Boleyn and to appreciate Fox's ambitiious biog (which occasionly seemed hazy to me) .

So I've moved beyond my first intro to Henry: "I'm 'Enery the Eighth I am...Enery the Eighth I am I am...I got married to the woman next door...she's been married seven times before...And everyone was a 'Enery..." Something like that.


Ellen said...

I like Stanley Holloway's songs :) You're quite right about the "may haves." After a while they pile up and you begin to see you are in an imaginary tapestry.

There is documentation about the major Tudor women -- the ones the important males married or who became players in important families. The Boleyn family never achieved that status and when push came to shove and then behead, there was no one around to protect them.

I like eggplant made almost anyway. We had spaghetti and eggplant and tomato sauce for supper tonight. Washed down with lots of red wine and then followed by port, coffee and shortbread cookies.


Mad Housewife said...

I'll try the eggplant!

Yes, the Jane Bolyneean tapestry is both difficult and "Penelopean" to weave, and the "mays" and "mights" are not as forceful as "accordings to," etc.

What a tangled weave.