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Big Fat Book in 60 Seconds Flat

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For a summer read packed with sex and violence, you can’t do much better than David Starkey’s Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (HarperCollins, $29.95). But if its 852-page length seems too daunting, we’ve lopped off a few headlines. — Caitlin Petre

* The oddly domestic Catherine of Aragon (wife No. 1) embroidered all of Henry’s shirts!

* Before they married, Anne Boleyn (wife No. 2) told Henry she was experiencing ”a fearsome and unquenchable longing to eat apples.” He took it as a sure sign of pregnancy.

* Henry’s royal bed had 10 layers: a litter of straw, a protective canvas, a feather bed, a blanket, two sheets, another blanket, and three fur rugs. Then holy water was splashed on to ward off nightmares.

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