πŸ“– Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir (2020) β­β­

Katheryn HowardHello my fellow bookworms, today I am bringing you my thoughts on the historical-fiction, Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen by bestselling author and acclaimed historian, Alison Weir. It is the fifth volume, published in 2020, of Weir’s ambitious six-book series, Six Tudor Queens, which chronicles the lives of each of Henry VIII’s wives.

I have been absolutely captivated by the previous volumes about Katherine of Aragon,Β Anne Boleyn, andΒ Jane Seymour, however I did find the last volume about Anna of Kleve a little disappointing. So I picked this up, back in November 2021, with a bit of trepidation, but also hope that it would bring the series back to top form.

For this tale of Henry’s youngest queen, Weir takes us back to 1528 to meet Katheryn, who as the fifth daughter of the impoverished Lord Edmund Howard and his deceased wife Joyce Culpeper finds herself at a very tender age sent into the care of her father’s formidable stepmother, Agnes Howard, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. While basic provision is made for clothes and education she is largely forgotten on the Dowager Duchess’ large estate, that is teeming with dozens of attendants and other poor wards.

However the lively, beautiful young woman that Katheryn grows into does not go unnoticed by the men around her and, as hope dies of an appointment at court or an advantageous marriage, she embarks on a string of inappropriate and doomed love affairs with older men. This first half of the book was slow going for me, as it is very repetitive in terms of Katheryn’s thoughts and actions. Plus after the 4th, 12th, 20th not-so-secret sexual tryst with one of her lovers, I REALLY had got the point. 😏

Katheryn Howard #1

So I rejoiced with Katheryn, when an escape from her torrid affairs and the longed for appointment to court is offered by her ambitious uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, who is looking for a new, pretty Howard to dangle before the king. Henry is instantly captured by the youth, beauty and joy of Katheryn, as she delights in all the pleasures of being at court: singing, dancing, gowns, jewels and games. The king tells the world she is his rose without a thorn, quickly, putting aside his disappointing German bride, Anna to make Katheryn is wife instead. 🌹

But those who gather roses must beware of thorns, because as we know Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing of. It is not long before faces from her past come back to haunt her and the enemies of the power-hungry Howards come circling like wolves. Snatching at any gossip or rumour until they are able to bring her tumbling down, only a year into her marriage, to share the same tragic fate as her cousin, Anne Boleyn.

As with the earlier books, Weir had me choked up by the end of this book. This was definitely a return to form for Weir’s writing: effortlessly blending history and her own imagination. And while I often didn’t like or approve of Katheryn’s choices, I could sympathise with what was a very young, naΓ―ve and poorly educated woman put in dangerous situations by her family. Also, even though the abundant sexual content of this tale was not to my taste it did highlight, even more starkly, how Katheryn was used and abused, particularly by the men in her life. πŸ˜₯

Overall, I thought Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen was a beautiful written historical-fiction, that may haveΒ started off as a slow burner for me, but by the second half I was gripped and I raced through it to the bitter end. So while not perfect, this was still a very… Good read ⭐⭐

Now, I very much look forward to reading the final book in the series, Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2021

(Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book viaΒ NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I also counted this book towards my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2021)

Have you read this? Would you like to read this? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

9 thoughts on “πŸ“– Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir (2020) β­β­

  1. I’ve had the first in this series tagged at the library for ages. I really need to read it! I’m glad this was better than the last. Maybe that bodes well for the final book.

    1. Yes, hopefully, this does bode well for the final book, especially as I have a feeling Katharine Parr may be a character more to my taste. I also hope you will be able to start the series soon! πŸ˜ƒ

  2. I enjoyed this one too. Poor Katheryn’s story is so sad, although I agree that the focus on her love affairs in the first half of the book gets quite repetitive. I hope you’re able to read the Katharine Parr book soon – it was one of my favourites.

    1. Helen, it is a little comforting to know that I wasn’t only one who found the first half quite repetitive and I too hope it won’t be long till I read the final book. πŸ€žπŸ™‚

  3. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl. It endeared the Tudor era to me. I think I’ll really like this series. I’m going to put the books on my TBR. Thank you so much for your review!

    1. I am so pleased you enjoyed this review so much AND that it has got you want to try these brilliant series for yours, Jenni Elyse! While I haven’t read The Other Boleyn Girl, I have have loved several of Philippa Gregory’s books, including: The White Queen and The Red Queen; which remind me I really need to get back to that series – I have The Kingmaker’s Daughter all ready to go on my TBR shelf! πŸ‘Έ

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