Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review: The Confession of Katherine Howard By Suzannah Dunn

★★★ 1/2 

Book Source: Received this ARC for a fair & honest review.
Release Date: April 5th 2011

Book Synopsis: When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk’s household she could not be more different than her poor relation, Cat Tilney. Yet, of all their companions, it is Cat, watchful and ambitious, to whom the seemingly frivolous young girl confides. When Katherine is summoned to the royal court at seventeen—to become, months later, the wife of Henry VIII after he casts off his previous queen—she leaves behind an ex-lover, Francis, with whom Cat is soon passionately involved.

But a future that seems assured for the pampered new queen and her maid-in-waiting lasts a brief year and a half, only to be imperiled by improper acts and scandalous allegations of girlhood love affairs. Imprisoned in the Tower and hoping to escape a most terrible fate, a frightened, desperate Katherine relates a version of events that only Cat recognizes as a lie—as more than one life is threatened by what she alone knows to be the truth about Katherine Howard’s past.

Review: The story of Katherine’s downfall is widely known; however, little is known about Katherine herself. This story is told in Cat Tilney’s point of view who was a distant relative of Katherine Howard. Suzannah Dunn made this story her own by incorporating Katherine and Cat’s interesting but close friendship. What also made this story unique was how Dunn created the fictitious relationship between Cat and Francis Derham, which evolved once Katherine casted Francis to the side for the snobbish Thomas Culpepper.   

Suzannah Dunn really redeemed herself with this tale because I felt The Sixth Wife was utterly dry and difficult to believe. This story tells the story of each of Katherine’s three sexual conquests: Henry Manox, Francis Derham, and Thomas Culpepper. Although Katherine has been described as being “afraid of nothing,” I really feel she must not have been the sharpest tool in the shed because she was playing Russian roulette with these boys. I would have thought she would have learned from her cousin, Anne Boleyn’s, demise. Once Henry VIII discovered Katherine was not the girl he thought she was his vanity was hurt to the point of no return; therefore, forgiveness was impossible for the aging and vane king.

Opinion: Although I would have preferred the story to have been told in Katherine’s point of view because it is called “The Confession of Katherine Howard” not “Cat Tilney,” I really did like the character of Cat. I felt very sympathetic towards her because she saw herself as Katherine’s friend even though Katherine rarely confided in Cat like a friend truly would. Katherine also left Cat behind when she went to court and once Katherine’s indiscretions were found out by the archbishop Cranmer, Cat found herself caught in the middle between her lover Francis and her friendship with her cousin Katherine, not to mention her Queen. This really left Cat in a scary predicament. 

One last thing that I didn’t really like was how the story jumped around a lot. I prefer a fluid story line where I feel like I’m there witnessing the events taking place. Therefore, I found it difficult to feel like I’m really there. Other than those two hiccups I really enjoyed this book and felt the author stuck to the historical facts while also creating her own spin on the story. I would recommend this book, but it’s not my favorite rendition of Katherine Howard’s story. So far my favorite story on Katherine Howard would have to be Jean Plaidy's Murder Most Royal.

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