Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: "The Confession of Katherine Howard" by Suzannah Dunn

From Goodreads:  ‘England: firelight and fireblush; wine-dark, winking gemstones and a frost of pearls. Wool as soft as silk, in leaf-green and moss; satins glossy like a midsummer night or opalescent like winter sunrise…Little did we know it but that night we were already ghosts in our own lives…’ When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk's household, poor relation Cat Tilney is deeply suspicious of her. The two girls couldn't be more different: Cat, watchful and ambitious; Katherine, interested only in clothes and boys. Their companions are in thrall to Katherine, but it's Cat in whom Katherine confides and, despite herself, Cat is drawn to her. Summoned to court at seventeen, Katherine leaves Cat in the company of her ex-lover, Francis, and the two begin their own, much more serious, love affair. Within months, the king has set aside his Dutch wife Anne for Katherine. The future seems assured for the new queen and her maid-in-waiting, although Cat would feel more confident if Katherine hadn't embarked on an affair with one of the king's favoured attendants, Thomas Culpeper. However, for a blissful year and a half, it seems that Katherine can have everything she wants. But then allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Desperately frightened, Katherine recounts a version of events which implicates Francis but which Cat knows to be a lie. With Francis in the Tower, Cat alone knows the whole truth of Queen Katherine Howard - but if she tells, Katherine will die.

My Thoughts:  I chose to read this book as part of the Henry VIII challenge that I am participating in because I am kind of tired of reading books about Anne Boleyn.  I hoped that this book might provide a fresh look at Katherine Howard and her life but I was pretty let down.  If you have seen seasons of 'The Tudors' that pertain to Henry VIII's marriage to Katherine Howard, then you might as well not even read this book.  It is told from the perspective of one of Katherine Howard's maids and discusses her youth in the household of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk but doesn't really show who Katherine was.  I got the impression that the author doesn't think very highly of Katherine Howard and portrayed her as a selfish person who didn't care about anything or anyone but herself.  Do I think she was young, immature and made really bad decisions?  Yes, but what seventeen year old isn't like that?  Overall, I thought this book was boring and had a very abrupt ending (it ended before Katherine's execution).  2 stars.

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