Popsugar Reading Challenge 2020 – Book 24

Prompt – a book by an author who has written more than 20 books

There are so many great writers to choose for this category so it made sense to choose something from my hefty TBR pile. I was so lucky to be sent an advanced copy of Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen. This is the fifth book in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series – a fantastic series if you enjoy historical fiction. Alison Weor is a prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction, lots of which is based around the Tudor period. I have heard her speak on several occasions and she is a fountain of Tudor knowledge.

What it’s about?


A naive girl, thrust forward by her ambitious family. A pretty girl, who has captured the heart of the King. Katheryn sings, she dances, she delights in the pleasures of being queen. The King tells the world she is his rose without a thorn.

But this young woman has a past of which Henry knows nothing. It comes back increasingly to haunt her, even as she courts danger yet again. For those who gather roses must beware of the thorns.

What I think:

The story of Henry VIII is well trodden material for writers and Katheryn Howard is one of the most written about queens.

Her story is one of the most tragic as she loses her life at such a young age.

Weir creates a Katheryn that a modern reader can relate to – she is both sympathetic and frustrating.

I think this is my favourite book of the series so far. As Henry VIII gets older his marriages are less about political gain, although obviously important, the debates about religion and the future of the dynasty are less pressing. Henry seems genuinely besotted with Katheryn, and while not blind to the ambitions of her family, he treats Katheryn with love and respect.

Katheryn naively believes that she can hide her love for Tom Culpepper and takes so many dangerous risks. At points you want to shake her! She knows the risks and often recalls the fate of her cousin, Anne Boleyn and the execution of the Coubtess of Salisbury, and yet she still tries to sneak around in a court where someone is always watching and someone will always gain from you downfall.

There is no doubt that Katheryn is also a victim. Her relationships with Henry Maddox and Francis Dereham make for uncomfortable reading at times. The atmosphere and life of the young girls in the Dowager Duchess’ household allow Katheryn a freedom most girl in her social position would not have had.

Weir writes Katheryn final days in a sensitive and completely compelling way. Her faith that she is innocent of the charges against her and that Henry will be lenient is hearbreaking knowing the fate that awaits her.

The characters are brought to life in such a way to as to remind you that they were real people rather than just distant figures from history.

Each book in this series tells the story of a queen from their perspective and Weir creates individual voices and clear perspectives even when revisiting the same events.

This is a fantastic series and I will await the finale with the story of Catherine Parr.

Thank you Headline for gifting me with an advanced copy. The hardback of Katheryn Howard, the Tainted Queen is stunning and can be ordered from:

Waterstones: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

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