Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife
By Alison Weir
Published by Headline
What’s it about?
Two husbands dead; a life marred by sadness. And now Katharine is in love for the first time in her life.
The eye of an ageing and dangerous king falls upon her. She cannot refuse him. She must stifle her feelings and never betray that she wanted another.
And now she is the sixth wife. Her queenship is a holy mission yet, fearfully, she dreams of the tragic parade of women who went before her. She cherishes the secret beliefs that could send her to the fire. And still the King loves and trusts her.
Now her enemies are closing in. She must fight for her very life.
What I think:
I have loved the Six Queens series but was slightly apprehensive that the sixth book would fizzle out as Henry ages. I was wrong.
Katharine Parr’s life is dramatic in it’s own way. She survives two previous marriages that bring traumas and religious conflict.
Just as Katharine is free to marry for love and put happiness before duty and financial security along comes Henry.
Katharine is calm and intelligent. She is caring and thoughtful. With little pressure for an heor or diplomatic relations, Henry can choose a wife who is a companion and will bring some stability to life at Court. Katharine is the perfect choice.
Resistant and at first resentful, Katharine prays for guidance and comes to see her marriage to Henry as her destiny. Passionate about reform she hopes to be able to guide him in his transformation of religion in England.
Weir’s narrative and focus on key moments means that as with previous books, the religious complexity of the era does not not become a slog and is seen through the dialogue between the characters and their emotional responses.
Parr’s life after Henry is short but heartbreaking. Her marriage to Thomas Seymour brings her more challenges than she anticipates – Henry may have died, but his legacy looms large in the politics and faction of an England divided. Her role as step-mother to the Royal children, especially teenager Elizabeth is also a source of drama.
Katherine’s story is a wonderful finale to the series. There is a real sense of a life taken to soon as the reader is again reminded about the perils of Tudor childbirth. Weir’s research and extraordinary ability to recreate Tudor life is both evocative and poignant.
This is a must read for fans of Tudor fiction.
Thank you to Headline for my gifted copy – the hardback is stunning.