Tuesday, 29 December 2015

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Taming of the Queen - Philippa Gregory

Release Date: 10/08/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse...

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-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 sixteen 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.


OK, coming from Cumbria, I was more than familiar with Henry VIII’s final wife, Katherine Parr and whilst I’ve read the historical accounts, getting events woven into a tale to help bring the time to life is something that is not only tricky but can end up being a millstone around the authors neck. So perhaps it is for the best that the woman who tackled this novel for me is well known Tudor expert was something that I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do with it.

Philippa’s gift with writing is to bring the people from the past to life, giving them a real grounding with the modern reader as well as giving them the chance to see history in all it’s technicolour glory. The dialogue is crisp, the prose wonderfully delightful and for me it’s a book that was a pleasure to sit down and savour. Magic.

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