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The Last Wife Of Henry VIII (2006)

The Last Wife of Henry VIII (2006)
3.88 of 5 Votes: 4
0312352182 (ISBN13: 9780312352189)
st. martin's press
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The Last Wife Of Henry VIII (2006)
The Last Wife Of Henry VIII (2006)

About book: This was a quick, entertaining read following the dramatic life of Catherine Parr from childhood to her death. Told from Catherine's point of view it spans the history of all King Henry's wives giving the reader a brief overview of much of Henry's life as king & the ill-fated outcomes of each of his marriages. Cat is familiar with the workings of King Henry's court from a young age, her mother being Catherine of Aragon's lady-in-waiting. She finds favour with the King over her lifetime not only for her fairness but her wise & often refreshingly honest counsel until she finally becomes his sixth & last bride. Erickson takes some liberties re-creating Catherine's life but as this is a work of fiction I wasn't bothered by the inaccuracies, if anything I found the embellishments added to the romance & drama. However if you're pedantic about an author taking artistic licence with history, then this may not be the novel for you. To give you an example, the novel recounts Catherine's 4 marriages, the first to Ned Burgh (Cat's one true love according to Erickson) then John Neville, King Henry VIII and finally Thomas Seymour but Catherine's first marriage was actually an arranged one, to the elderly Edward Borough.Catherine was quite the humanitarian, skilled with herbs & poultices, well educated & level headed, although I did wonder at her intelligence when she recommenced her affair with Tom Seymour while married to Henry, obviously passion outweighed the possible loss of her head. She skillfully manages the delicate & often dangerous dance between honesty & protecting herself & those she loves. I thoroughly enjoyed her often un-complimentary thoughts about Henry's character & her opinion of his former wives and I actually laughed at her audacity in voicing some of those thoughts. The following response from Catherine to King Henry, regarding his marriage proposal is a wonderful example of her temerity (and she managed to keep her head lol)"I still feel fear and revulsion at the memory of you putting your hands on me, kissing me, when I was a young girl. I still feel the fury and anguish I knew when my beloved Ned died, a victim of the heartless demands of your court! I feel sorrow for poor Queen Catherine of Aragon, that noble and gracius lady, and for poor foolish Catherine Howard, and even for the one you call the Witch. They all got entangled in the deadly web of the court, and in the end the great spider at the heart of the web devoured them! As he will no doubt devour me!" Plenty of page-turning action in this one, the usual court intrigue & treachery, religious turmoil, pilgrim revolts, accusations of heresy & treason. All in all, a fascinating look at the last woman standing.

This book was absolute rubbish. I found myself tutting out loud whenever I came across a historical inaccuracy (which was depressingly often) and I actually threw the book across the room when I read that Catherine was sleeping with Thomas Seymour whilst married to the King. WTF. ?!?!?!?!?! WHY would she do that? Didn't she JUST warn Katherine Howard a couple of chapters ago that she was an utter idiot for sleeping with someone when married to Henry?!?! I skimmed the last 3 or 4 chapters of this book because I just wanted it to end. None of the characters were likeable at all and I never felt connected with them. The author rushed over events too quickly, as if she had a word limit for each event; for example in one chapter we went from Henry being happily married to Anne Boleyn, and the next it's the Pilgrimage of Grace, briefly explaining "He [Henry VIII] just hasn't been the same since Anne Boleyn was executed" or something to that effect. Um... Sure. Not like it was a major scandal to the whole of Europe at the time. Hang on, wasn't her brother also executed? For incest? Really?! Well fancy that. And four other men were executed for adultery too?! Golly. Why didn't you say?As for the whole Anne Bourchier scandal, Katherine's brother didn't just shrug it off like it was no biggie, he wanted her executed for her adultery, which was the punishment in those days. She escaped punishment because Katherine persuaded her brother not to. And I'm guessing the only reason Anne Bourchier died from being tortured for heresy in the 1540's (she actually died in 1571) was so Ms Erickson did not have to go through the labourous task of creating a place for Anne Askew.And the way Erickson portrayed Catherine's relationship with Princess Elizabeth was disgraceful. As was Katherine Howard's execution, where Lady Rochford gabbled insanely and stripped herself naked. Yup. Good inventing there... Well done.Another thing that irked me was how the author kept claiming Katherine was descended from royalty through her mother. It was actually through her father, who was descended from John of Gaunt, the son of Edward III.This book was awful, from the characters to the appalling historical inaccuracies. I will definately be steering clear of anymore of Ms Erickson's works.
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I had higher expectations for this one. Rather than staying up past bedtime to read "one more chapter", I found myself staying up past bedtime just to be done with it. The book relies very heavily on the fact that we all know history (which we do), that we are well versed especially in Tudor history (and we are), and that we are already "fans" of this particular subject (and that is also true). The problem for me is that the book does nothing for me as a stand-alone novel and so it seems less of an historical novel and more “fan fiction” than anything else. I prefer a story-line and characters who will find a way to stay with me, but the only memorable thing about this book is its cover. Bummer.
Angela Joyce
I do not wish to be venomous, so I will say that this book is... fanciful. It is fanciful like a romance novel (oops, for me to say that is venomous). Next time I take a work of "historical fiction" from a shelf, I will first check for a bibliography. If it has none, it goes back on the shelf. Mary Boleyn had a half-wit son by Henry VIII? It was Thomas Seymour who committed the crime that Thomas Culpepper was accused of? People were drinking tea in England that year? Lady Rochford flashed the crowd before her execution? Catherine Parr, the feisty heroine herself, was blithely boinking Thomas Seymour all during her marriage to the king, even though Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard had been executed for alleged adultery? And where, may I ask, was Anne Askew? She was rather an important person in all this, and does not appear in the book at all.I'd go on, but surely I've said enough.
Patty Mora
This is the first book that I have read by this author, Carolly Erickson. At first it was difficult for me to "get into" the story of Catherine Parr, but I am glad I stuck to it and read it all. It did not disappoint. Erickson, unlike other Tudor-era authors I have read, really develops the character of Henry VIII. He is not a supporting actor with a few speaking parts, but he plays a major role in this book: I can actually see him, hear him, feel him, and smell his presence. This book reads like a diary. You are in Catherine Parr's head from childhood until her death. You see characters as she sees them, and yet when you step back, you wonder, "what does she see in him?" Especially with her lover, Tom Seymour. You want to believe that this is true love. You want to believe that he is a good man. You want to believe that they will live happily ever after. Then you hit yourself upside the head and tell yourself to Wake Up because Tom is nothing but a lying, thieving cheat!I really enjoyed this book, and I plan to read more from Carolly Erickson.
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