janmah51, October 24, 2013 (view all comments by janmah51)
At age 31, Katherine Parr finds herself twice a widow. She returns to court and falls in love with Thomas Seymour. But when she catches the eye of the king, Henry sends Seymour away.
Henry is old and ailing but must has Katherine as his queen. She will be his sixth and last queen.
This book has all the intrigue, passion and betrayal you'd expect. It is well written and vividly describes the time and the pomplex people and the ways of the royal court.
I love all things Tudor. The TV shows, movies and books. I was excited to get this book and to read it. I knew little of Katherine Parr so this was a new turn on a well loved story. I enjoyed it.
nrlymrtl, October 17, 2013 (view all comments by nrlymrtl)
This is a rich and thoroughly engaging book, alternating between Kit’s and Dot’s point of view, giving the readers both the royal and kitchen scene. The main characters walk onto the page fully formed, with back stories and goals of their own. I was easily drawn into the story. I will say that briefly, I wondered if this was Book 2 in a series because the main characters are dealing with the after effects of events that happened a few months previous to the opening of this book. Indeed, I even went so far as to check on various book sites, and finally checking the author’s site �" and this is indeed Book 1. Still, I had that little niggling feeling that I was missing some part of the story.
That aside, I loved listening to the two points of view. Dot, as the maid, has greater run of the castles and grounds, but she also has to do all the packing and unpacking as the court rotates through the various royal residences. Kit has all the fancy clothes and jewels (which are quite weighty), but nearly all her motions, her life in fact, is dictated by King and court needs.
Spanning several years, the book encompasses various historical characters and tackle the numerous religious questions of the Reformation without being preachy. I had a true sense of the predicament Kit found herself in, having her personal views the opposite of Lady Mary, and periodically, opposite to hose of the mercurial King Henry.
As much as I enjoyed this novel, with it’s insights into Katherine Parr’s life, I must bring up my one criticism. Only the main female characters have any depth; all the male characters are one dimensional. Not only that, but all the male characters commit some wrong towards the lead ladies in some form. A few regret their trespasses and they are portrayed in a gentler light. Since the story lacked a single male with altruistic motives and characteristics throughout the novel, the story was a slightly unbalanced. True, the 1500s were not a time where gender equality was even thought of, so perhaps this was done on purpose to provide the backdrop if blatant and socially acceptable gender inequality.
Even with that criticism, I would not pass up another book by Elizabeth Fremantle. The writing and pacing were well done, keeping me engaged. It was obvious a sizable amount of research went into the book, and the details were definitely appreciated by this reader.
Simon & Schuster -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.