Why would a woman marry a serial killer?
Because she cannot refuse....
Kateryn Parr, a 30-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father, who has buried four wives - King Henry VIII - commands her to marry him.
Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted 16 months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride, and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.
But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and the first woman to publish in English, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her. The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy - the punishment is death by fire, and the king's name is on the warrant....
From an author who has described all of Henry's queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power, and education at the court of a medieval killer.
©2015 Philippa Gregory (P)2015 Simon & Schuster
I found this a fascinating take on the last Queen Kate & the religious backdrop of the final few years of Henry VIII reign. I particularly noted with interest the relationships Katherine had with Anne Askew & her inner circle. This part of her life was defined clearly along with the absolute terror she must have felt negotiating her safety with a tyrant such as Henry. What was less clear was the relationships with her stepchildren (particularly Elizabeth) & that with Thomas Seymour. For me, the book ended too early & I would loved to have seen Philippa Gregory's take on the final 18 months of Katherine's life (post marriage to Thomas Seymour) but I suppose that was a sign I was enjoying this story as it left me wanting more.
Have read nearly everything by Phillipa Gregory but first one as an audio book. The whole book was spoiled by the voice of the reader. There were very odd pronunciations of certain words. The story itself was quite good in that it gave an insight into Katherine Parr, of which little is known. She has often been depicted as a nurse wife, married to tend an ailing King in his last years, so it was interesting to learn more of her thirst for knowledge.
Philippa Gregory has a distinct style which, once you accept this is to make history juicy, is fine. It's the narration that put me off here - do I detect a poorly-disguised American accent? And the narrator was just too old to convey, in the present tense, an excitable and impressionable young woman. Didn't do it for me.
Usual good plot and characterisation by the author. Let down by some annoying repetition, and strange pronunciation by the reader, for example, Latin, courtier and Hereward, the former two occurring so frequently as to become irritating.
As with several of Gregory's books, the story is good and provides a lovely insight but the telling is deeply repetitive, with constant reiteration a of thoughts that feel like padding. Too much is told, not enough shown.
That said, I really valued the examination of the academia and study of that time.
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