Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review - Six Tudor Queens: Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife, by Alison Weir

17 June 2021

Book Review - Six Tudor Queens: Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife, by Alison Weir

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Having sent his much-beloved but deceitful young wife Katheryn Howard to her beheading, King Henry fixes his lonely eyes on a more mature woman, thirty-year-old, twice-widowed Katharine Parr. She, however, is in love with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother to the late Queen Jane. Aware of his rival, Henry sends him abroad, leaving Katharine no choice but to become Henry’s sixth queen.

The long awaited final book of Alison Weir’s ‘Six Tudor Queens’ series has arrived, and it doesn’t disappoint. In a poignant opening passage, Katharine Parr’s story begins with the sudden death of her father from the dreaded ‘sweating sickness’, which ravaged the world of the Tudors.

I’ve enjoyed reading the other five books of this series, and admit to being unusually well informed about the events of Katharine, my favourite of Henry’s six queens. There were enough fresh ideas to keep me gripped to the end – and, like the best historical fiction, many new questions for readers to reflect upon.

Is it possible that Katharine learned to love the garrulous king? Could she not see through the wily Thomas Seymour until others pointed out his flaws? Was she naïve enough to believe the ambitious men of the privy council would allow her to rule the country as Queen Regent? 

I was particularly intrigued by the portrayal of Henry VIII in his last years. Enigmatic as ever, he is in turns sensitive and blunt, yet Alison Weir shows her mastery of the craft, offering us a new perspective from Katharine’s point of view. 

If anyone might have been close enough to Henry to see through his façade, it must be Katharine, yet this book is woven through with indications his last wife was as much in his thrall as anyone. At one point she thinks of him as like ‘God on earth’, and the most powerful man who ever lived.

I recommend starting with the first book of this series, and reading them in order. It will take a while, but you will be setting out on a journey which could change your thinking about King Henry VIII and his many wives.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth and several historical biographies, including Mistress of the Monarchy, Queen Isabella, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She lives in Surrey, England with her husband. Find our more at Alison's website and fin her on Facebook and Twitter  @AlisonWeirBooks 

Disclosure: I am grateful to Alison Weir's publishers, Headline Books, for providing a review copy. 

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