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Amenable Women by Mavis Cheek
Amenable Women begins with a funeral. Flora Chapman is burying her overbearing husband who died in a freak balloon accident. Instead of grief, she feels liberation. When she discovers he was having an affair, she feels humiliation. To placate her daughter, who had been a daddy's girl, she decides to finish her husband's history of their village and discovers that history includes a reference to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife. Henry has agreed to marry her after seeing her portrait which had been painted by Holbein, but divorced her when he saw her in person because she was too ugly. Flora decides to travel to The Louvre to see the famous painting, and finds it talks to her. Flora decides that she must set Anne of Cleves' place in its proper history. Amenable Women has received mixed reviews with The Independent saying, "Cheek's sharply sketched minor characters, such as the postmistress ('a bit of a tartar, who would ration commemorative stamps at will'); her lightly scattered and little-known (to this reviewer anyway) literary references and her acutely perceptive aphorisms. Her concise, ironic and zeugmatic style is a sustaining joy on every page: you want to read whole paragraphs aloud to anyone who'll listen. And you don't want it to end."