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Queen's Gambitby Elizabeth Fremantle
Synopses & Reviews
Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives — two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth — Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.
Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine's survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor's edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.
"Tudor women continue to rule historical fiction, as Fremantle demonstrates in her debut novel tracing Katherine Parr's passage from grieving widow to Henry VIII's sixth and last wife, the one who survives. Taking us into Katherine's mind and heart, Fremantle portrays a complex gentlewoman: decent, though willing to hasten her previous husband's demise; modest, though ready to throw herself into the arms of the man she adores; and intelligent, though blind to the machinations of the man in question, aristocratic playboy Thomas Seymour. At 31, daft with desire for Thomas, Katherine has no choice but accept the now aging, ungainly King's unwelcome marriage proposal. A reluctant queen in a court full of intrigue and potential enemies, she still manages to write a book, reconcile Henry to his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and champion Protestant reforms, all while maintaining a tenuous hold on the King's favor and a noticeably unabated attraction to Seymour. Fremantle details the dangers of 16th-century sexual politics while humanizing powerful women, including Katherine herself; clever, willful Elizabeth; and lonely, suspicious Mary. Even with invented characters — such as a gay royal physician/confidant, and a loyal commoner maid — Fremantle carves out no new literary territory, but like Katherine, she navigates Tudor terrain with aplomb." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Elizabeth Fremantle has contributed to Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair and The Sunday Times among other publications. She lives in London, England.
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