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Summary

Attractive, wealthy, and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. 

A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey.

She marries Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of 14. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the tragic death of Jane Seymour, Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends. Katherine and Charles Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England. When the royal marriage is annulled,

Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. When King Edward dies, his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen and Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger - from which there seems no escape.

Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

©2019 Tony Riches (P)2020 Tony Riches

What listeners say about Katherine - Tudor Duchess

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Enjoyable

Thoroughly enjoyed hearing a Tudor woman’s story I hadn’t heard before. easy to follow if you know a little Tudor history. I will be looking for more by this author

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A history usually untold

I like this book, but wish it had been longer, with more details of the times in-between.

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Interesting story of a less well known Tudor but too fast to get the connections clear

A good listen but skates too quickly over the minor characters so it’s difficult to place them

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So much more than Charles Brandon's wife

So often, Katherine Willoughby is merely the very young lady married to the aging man who purchased her wardship, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. So, it was good to discover that so much of this book in fact takes place after the duke’s death, allowing Katherine to really grow into being her own person. As such, her high status can easily be underestimated as she seemed a modest young woman, dealing well with the huge pressures her role had unpredictably presented her with.

Katherine’s story is so much more than the young girl placed in the hands of a man who modern sensibilities would say should be ashamed of himself. Her seeming life of privilege as the Duchess of Suffolk was marred by her husband being constantly at the call of the temperamental king. Her title continued to serve her well for the years after the Duke’s death, but being forbidden by him to marry until their sons became of age meant her life as her own person did not truly begin even until sometime after the tragic loss of her two boys.

Once her husband had died, Katherine was left a widow with his debts to resolve, which was a considerable undertaking. Yet we see how she continued to be shrewd, calm and even-tempered. Blessed with more access to her beloved sons, Henry and Charles, than many of her status, she was a doting mother, but she was shattered by losing them both to the sweat in the same day. It’s hard for any of us who are parents to even imagine how we could move forward, but Katherine tried to find meaning in life again. Her faith was tested though, and from early in the book, her faith is a big factor in the person Katherine is to become, as her determination to support the reformed religion begins to shape her life and her very being, often putting her in danger, and forcing her to chose a new life more than once. Her story allows us to get a real feel of the fact that religious persecution remained rife whichever side of the fence you rested on, and she rarely felt her, or her family were safe.

Upon the death of Thomas Seymour, Katherine was to bring up the daughter, Mary, of her great friend and devout reformer, Dowager queen, Katherine Parr, who had predeceased her husband Thomas. This is a story that I often find upsetting, as that poor child was left an orphan, and seems to have been nothing but a financial burden. I’m so glad that Tony discovered it and gave Mary more than pitiful bit-part in Katherine’s life, but I still feel she had little happiness in her short time.

Tony’s novel I feel gave me a good sense of who Katherine was, and certainly how much she had to cope with in her roles over the years. Comfortable in the end with a new happiness, Tony’s Katherine has given me more to look forward to in his other novels.

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Wow. What a story and so well told

I'm a big historical fiction fan, but knew little of this amazing woman and her story. It's a brilliant tale, and so well told by the reader, who manages to evoke voices from all over Europe, male and female, rich and poor, and really draw you into the story and the characters. Highly recommend!

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thoroughly entertaining

I couldn't put it down.. enjoyed every moment . Beautifully narrated . would definitely recommend

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brilliantly narrated.

An interesting piece of history really brought to life by the narrator. Her style made it an easy listen

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-06-20

Oh my goodness !!!!!!!

I have never before been so bored by a story about a Tudor Period character. The narration left a lot to be desired as well. I often wondered about Duchess Katherine’s story but I’m very disappointed with this account. Sending this book back😞

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  • Jenny K.
  • 26-08-20

Excellent novel of Tudor England!

While I’m not a Tudor expert, I’m familiar with the main players of the time. Somehow, Katherine, this woman so interlaced in Henry VIII’s court, went unnoticed.

Riches lets Katherine’s story overlap with the previous book, so there is no gap in the chronology, making for a smooth transition. From there, he weaves an intriguing multi-layered tale of a woman who grew from having no power, to being a powerhouse in her own right.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Riches has done his research, which is obvious, but not dry. The narrator is marvelous, and well-suited. I recommend to anyone interested in the Tudor Dynasty or in the reformation of the Catholic Church in England.