‘The Taming Of The Queen’ by Philippa Gregory opened my eyes to the importance of a little known character in English history, Kateryn Parr. Many will know that she was one of the six wives of Henry VIII, but that is all. I had previously imagined her to be a quiet, submissive woman of the time, who would have kept her thoughts and beliefs to herself in order to keep safe from a mercurial king. But I was wrong. In reading this book I discovered a woman who was deeply religious, intelligent and scholarly.
Kateryn Parr was fluent in Latin and French. She was a keen student of philosophy and theology at a time when the king was see-sawing between reform and renewing closer links with Rome. Kateryn was the first woman to publish her own writings under her own name in English, focussing on prayer and the liturgy.
Kateryn also acted as regent for King Henry, showing his trust in her at that time. But, of course, Henry’s feelings for his wives were as changeable as the English weather. This novel paints a portrait of the king as selfish, manipulative, and often cruel; one cannot help but be drawn into the whirlpool of emotions which must have surrounded him at all times. Ms. Gregory has researched this period of the English court in great detail, which brings to life the day-to-day experiences of Kateryn. As a reader I felt fully immersed in the Tudor court – the food, dancing, etiquette, intrigue – which I found fascinating.
It is not possible to know what went on ‘behind closed doors’ in the past, so we cannot know the intimate details of Kateryn Parr’s personal relationship with Henry VIII, or with Thomas Seymour. As this book is historical fiction, Ms Gregory has taken what we know of the character of the people involved to create a more personal view of Queen Kateryn, showing how she must have used her intelligence to keep safe at court, despite attempts to turn the king against her.
I enjoyed the historical perspective in this book. The sinking of the Mary Rose, and attempts to raise her, just one example of the historical accuracy here. I also enjoyed the interplay of the characters and the realistic speech, which was never stilted and which helped the story to flow.
All in all, ‘The Taming Of the Queen’ is an enjoyable read which I can happily recommend.
The Taming Of The Queen can be found on Amazon
Philippa Gregory’s website
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