Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir

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Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Wilson
Reviewed by Ruth Wilson
Summary: In the latest of the Six Tudor Queens series Alison Weir allows the reader to see a slightly different version of Katheryn Howard. Not innocent, but young, naive and easy to manipulate by those around her, in this novel the reader sees Katheryn Howard as a young woman trying to navigate her way through the world rather than the cliché teenage temptress. This is a fascinating glimpse into the early life of Henry's fifth queen.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: May 2020
Publisher: Headline Review
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472227775

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Katheryn was seven when her mother died, thus we are thrust into this tumultuous time in young Katheryn's life, trying to find a home, both figuratively and literally, where she can grow and grieve. Unfortunately, Katheryn is followed by bad luck and she learns an important lesson, she is too young, too poor and too unimportant to be of any value to anyone, but she is beautiful and surely, that will count for something in the end, won't it?

Alison Weir is the top selling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has already published a non-fiction book covering the life of Katheryn Howard in The Six Wives of Henry VIII so, as a reader, it is safe to assume that all the basic facts in this novel are accurate. I found this book intriguing and fascinating in its portrayal of Katheryn. Weir describes how Katheryn is thrust from household to household, with a feckless wastrel of a father who can't look after her, and she suffers from a chronic lack of instruction, guidance and education. By the age of ten, she was all alone at the Duchess of Norfolk's estate, living with grown and married women with minimal supervision, by twelve she was declared an adult of marriageable age and she moved into the women's dorter to be closer to her friends and the little comfort she had.

Given that this story is from Katheryn's perspective it is natural that the reader will be sympathetic to Katheryn, but Weir shows Katheryn in a slightly different light in this novel. In her authors note at the end Weir discus' her sources and the sense that Katheryn was the victim of more powerful, intelligent men's schemes. The Katheryn portrayed throughout the novel is kind, generous but incredibly naive and undereducated, she trusts all the wrong people, allows herself to be manhandled and manipulated because she doesn't know who to talk to, and when she does get good advice that goes against her wishes she steadfastly ignores it. Interestingly, Weir cannot, and does not, portray Katheryn as innocent, the evidence is laid out against her throughout the novel, she was by no means a scarlet woman but she was guilty. What Weir does, however, is humanise Katheryn and suggest a different reasoning for her behaviour, one where a young woman is simply trying to be happy.

We cannot read Katheryn's story against modern standards, because society is too different, but even compared against the other high born ladies of the time it seems that Katheryn was dealt a poor hand, but managed to live most of her life with a laugh and a smile and a positive outlook. Even when thrust into the pressure cooker of Court life she managed to make the ever-cantankerous Henry briefly happy, but the reader cannot help feel sympathy for poor Katheryn who seemed to be doomed from the moment her mother died. This is a beautiful and well-written account of Katheryn's life, from a different perspective; and I would recommend it for young adult readers upwards. It is a wonderful novel and well worth reading. For something similar you could also read Six Tudor Queens: Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir or for something different you could try Frieda by Annabel Abbs.


Buy Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Six Tudor Queens: Katheryn Howard The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir at Amazon.com.


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