The latest historical novel by Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, The White Queen) begins with Henry VIII making Kateryn Parr an offer she really can’t refuse: a proposal that she become his sixth wife.

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

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The Synopsis

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...

 

The Review

The latest historical novel by Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, The White Queen) begins with Henry VIII making Kateryn Parr an offer she really can’t refuse: a proposal that she become his sixth wife.  Kateryn—apparently the proper spelling—is in her early 30s, twice widowed and with an appetite for scholarship. But she’s also clever enough to realise that the king isn’t marrying her for her cleverness. Once the wedding meal of larks, peacocks and heron is over, her main job will clearly be to agree with whatever Henry does and says. (After all, she’s not short of examples of what can happen to wives who displease him.) 

At times, Katheryn, who narrates the book, perhaps feels too much like a modern feminist who’s unaccountably pitched up in the 16th century. Nonetheless, The Taming of the Queen is not only a compelling novel about a surprisingly unfamiliar period of Tudor history. It also provides an overwhelming sense of the sheer terror that comes with living under a capricious tyrant—especially if you’re married to him. 

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