Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen

Ballantine. May 2020. 464p. ISBN 9781101966600. $28.99.
Best-selling author and historian Weir continues her “Six Tudor Queens” series (after Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait) with this story of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Katheryn Howard. Beginning with the death of Katheryn’s mother in 1528, the story follows Katheryn through her teenage years. After she is compelled by her ambitious relatives to catch the king’s eye, Henry falls head over heels in love with her. Flattered by his attention and affection but under orders of her relatives, Katheryn holds out for marriage. Shortly after Henry annuls his marriage to Anne of Cleves, they wed. As Katheryn becomes genuinely fond of Henry, despite his ailments and obesity, their marriage seems perfect if only she can give birth to a son...and keep her scandalous past a secret. Soon those secrets come to light and seal the fate of the naïve 19 year old. The characters are well developed, and readers will feel compassion and understanding for Katheryn, who is trapped by her youth and a pawn to her friends and relatives alike.
VERDICT This entertaining novel will appeal to historical fiction readers, especially those who enjoy the works of Phillippa Gregory. Fans of The Tudors will be excited to learn more about this fascinating royal. [See Prepub Alert, 11/11/19.]
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