Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived; we all know the rhyme that tells of the fate of Henry VIII’s wives. THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN tells Kateryn Parr’s story from the moment of proposal to the end of the marriage. There can be no spoilers in this review as anybody who paid even the slightest attention at school will be aware of what happened.
Now I must confess that, if asked about Katherine Parr, I would have told you that she was an older lady, a bit mousy and survived because she was both of these things. Turns out that I was wrong on all counts, including the spelling of her name.
Kateryn was beautiful (as was the much maligned Anne of Cleves) and only 31. She was also clever, so clever that she was the first English woman to publish a book under her own name. Recently widowed, she was in love and waiting until her period of mourning had ended before marrying again. Henry’s proposal put a stop to those plans. Nobody said no to Henry.
Given that we all know how story ends, even if we have made all sorts of wrong assumptions, telling the tale and keeping us enthralled is a big ask. Philippa Gregory rises to the task with aplomb. I stayed awake turning the pages into the small hours fretful that the next knock on the door would bring news of Kateryn’s arrest and execution. After all this is a work of fiction!
THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory
Published by Simon and Schuster