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The Confession of Katherine Howard [Hardcover]

Suzannah Dunn
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 May 2010
The new novel from the bestselling author of THE SIXTH WIFE. 'England: firelight and fireblush; wine-dark, winking gemstones and a frost of pearls. Wool as soft as silk, in leaf-green and moss; satins glossy like a midsummer night or opalescent like winter sunrise. Little did we know it but that night we were already ghosts in our own lives.' When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk's household, poor relation Cat Tilney is deeply suspicious of her. The two girls couldn't be more different: Cat, watchful and ambitious; Katherine, interested only in clothes and boys. Their companions are in thrall to Katherine, but it's Cat in whom Katherine confides and, despite herself, Cat is drawn to her. Summoned to court at seventeen, Katherine leaves Cat in the company of her ex-lover, Francis, and the two begin their own, much more serious, love affair. Within months, the king has set aside his Dutch wife Anne for Katherine. The future seems assured for the new queen and her maid-in-waiting, although Cat would feel more confident if Katherine hadn't embarked on an affair with one of the king's favoured attendants, Thomas Culpeper. However, for a blissful year and a half, it seems that Katherine can have everything she wants. But then allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Desperately frightened, Katherine recounts a version of events which implicates Francis but which Cat knows to be a lie. With Francis in the Tower, Cat alone knows the whole truth of Queen Katherine Howard - but if she tells, Katherine will die.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (27 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007258291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007258291
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 429,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Suzannah Dunn is the author of nine previous novels including 'Darker Days Than Usual' and 'Venus Flaering'. Her more recent novel, 'The Queen of Subtleties', tells the story of Anne Boleyn's downfall and was followed by the bestselling 'The Sixth Wife', the heartrending downfall of Katherine Parr, in 2007 and 'The Queen's Sorrow', about the tragedy of Mary Tudor, in 2008. Her most rnew novel, 'The Confession of Katherine Howard' is a magisterial return to the court of Henry VIII. She lives in Shropshire.

Product Description


Praise for 'The Sixth Wife': 'My, what a story! utterly compelling.' The Times

'Suzannah Dunn weaves a love story that is both moving and believable of second chances at love, and passion reawakened.' Telegraph

'Mesmerising and beautifully written.' Scotsman

Praise for The Queen of Subtleties: 'The Queen of Subtleties' offers a stunningly refreshing way of retelling an old story. I often abandon historical novels nowadays, but I really could not put this one down. It brings Anne Boleyn to life as never before, and, probably for the first time ever in fiction, Henry VIII emerges as a truly credible character in an authentic setting.' Alison Weir Praise for THE QUEEN OF SUBTLETIES

'A remarkable writer, a lyricist of ordinary life and ordinary people transfigured by extreme emotions.' Daily Telegraph

'Suzannah Dunn is that rarity among contemporary novelists: a genuine stylist. Her prose is like truffles -- rich, rare, dark, but never cloying.' Wendy Perriam

'Her ear for the rhythms of speech is unerring, her feeling for the minutiae of experience acute. It takes a good deal of artistry to create the illusion of real life, and she has managed something more difficult still, which is to show who us how strange real life can be.' The Times

About the Author

Suzannah Dunn is the author of ten books, all of which have been critically acclaimed. She has written three previous historical novels: The Queen of Subtleties, The Sixth Wife and The Queen’s Sorrow.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb re-imagining of Katherine Howard's story 18 April 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a wonderfully-engaging re-telling of the story of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, and manages to make a familiar tale genuinely fresh again. Set very much around a female court and household this is a story about female bodies, female duplicity and female sexuality.

Dunn, I think wisely, chooses not to have the narrative told by Katherine herself but, instead, by her girlhood friend and lady-in-waiting Cat Tilney. This allows her to maintain Katherine's own air of slightly enigmatic charisma and keeps us close to her without allowing us into Katherine's own head.

I particularly liked the way this doesn't portray Tudor women as closet modern-day women, as so many historical books do, always complaining about their lack of education and inability to choose their own husbands - something which no genuine C16th women do from the historical sources. Instead we see girls excited by the idea of arranged marriage because it gives them their own place at the head of the household. At the same time, women's ability to manage 'romance' as something outside of marriage, always problematic, is explored.

This Katherine is not particularly intelligent (but definitely not stupid either), not particularly pretty but still a powerful character in her self-belief and self-sufficiency, and pure inability to understand that anything can destroy her.

The narrative is split between long sections set in the present of the investigation against Katherine, and the past of her girlhood. But because the sections are long, the narrative avoids the choppy feel of similar structures and gives us time to settle into the story.

There are no 'good' and 'bad' characters in this book, it's far more nuanced than that.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! 4 Aug 2010
I can sometimes be difficult to find a fresh writer to put on your 'favourite' list - but I have with Suzannah Dunn. I love this book so much I've now bought her earlier works: on Anne Boleyn (The Queen of Subtleties); Catherine Parr (The Sixth Wife); and Mary I (The Queen's Sorrow). For me, Suzannah is now right up there with Phillippa Gregory and Alison Weir. Although lots has been written about Katherine Howard, I can honestly couldn't put down 'The Confession'. The familiar story is told here with a renewed vigour, originality and suspense. A great book!
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poor Katherine Howard... 26 April 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The story of the teenage Katherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, has been told numerous times in fact and in fiction but rarely so compellingly or with such style as in Susannah Dunn's new novel. The reader is plunged straight into the middle of the story, just days before Katherine Howard's fall from grace, and then taken back to Katherine's early years at the Duchess of Norfolk's house.

Told in the first person by Cat Tilney (a lady-in-waiting and childhood friend of Katherine's) we are told about their time together as teenagers where, with other girls, they were supposed to be learning to be ladies but were learning more about boys than anything else in the lax and slipshod Duchess' residence.

The story alternates between the claustrophobic Tudor court and the carefree life in the Duchess' house. This may sound confusing but the switch over between the past and present are always smooth and never jar on the reader.

Katherine Howard is portrayed as more knowing than I would have thought and she's a difficult character to warm to at times but the reader is always reminded of her youth, how little she really knew of the pitiless and vindictive Tudor court. Henry VIII is never really portrayed only glimpsed as a massive, monstrous and god-like figure who can destroy lives from a distance.

Susannah Dunn also tells a love story as the narrator falls in love with Francis Dereham only to have it all fall apart around her. It is a stunning story of betrayal, passion, innocence and fear packed with emotion and incident. Beautifully told, I was hooked until the last page.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Confess to Quite Liking This 6 July 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Confession of Katherine Howard is set over a few days in November 1541 and also told in flashback. We hear the story from the perspective of her best friend and lady-in-waiting Cat(herine) Tilney. Katherine is Henry VIII's fifth wife, she is only 19 and is really just a young girl from the country who happened to be related to the influential Howard family (The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk's family name). However, something is amiss and the lover of Cat (who was previously Katherine's boyfriend), Francis Dereham, is being interrogated about his previous relationship with the new Queen. This leads Cat to look back at the journey she and Katherine have taken, that brought them to the Tudor Court.

Cat first met Katherine whilst being tutored at the home of the Duchess of Norfolk with a number of other girls. They were supposed to be learning about becoming ladies and how to run their own household, but these teenage girls had lots of romantic dreams. I got the impression that Cat was quite naïve, she was bright but had been sheltered and knew little about `ways of the heart' and wanted desperately to please her family and make them proud. Katherine meanwhile had no real family, and was much more confident than Cat, but quietly so. She comes across as very enigmatic, and we only learn what she is prepared to reveal to Cat. Katherine has more romances than Cat, and knew how to catch the attention of men, which Cat was clueless about. Whilst neither girl could be considered sophisticated, it is Katherine's influential family connections that get her a place at court, as a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, something none of the other girls had even dreamed of.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Confession of Katherine Howard
I think this book was amazing I couldn't stop reading it, also it made me feel like cry in places and I really got into the story
to, I would recommend this book to any person... Read more
Published 2 months ago by nicky southey
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, it's dire
Couldn't stand it. Gave up to it. I was at screaming point . Dialogue awful. No stars at all.
Published 3 months ago by The listener
3.0 out of 5 stars a trips down imagination road review
I have read a book by Suzannah Dunn before (The Queen of Subtleties) but I will admit that I was unimpressed. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Laura Greenwood (trips down imagination road)
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to read.
As an avid reader of Tudor times and Henry VIII and his six wives I thought this would be an interesting book from the view of Katherine Howard,his second wife - and it was. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. P. A. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
Loved this book. Gave a good account of Katherine's life before and during her time as Queen. I would recommend it.
Published 14 months ago by S. Clark
2.0 out of 5 stars Dont want to hurt the authors feelings but...
I have no wish to hurt the author's feelings but I did not enjoy this book at all and got very little out of it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Gary Selikow
5.0 out of 5 stars Too young a Queen
I love to read historical fiction and especially the Tudor period so this book was a must.
The service was good and the book in perfect condition
Published 16 months ago by Kalmarian
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the tin....
So this isn't the confession of Katherine Howard.It's the Confession of Katherine Howard's imaginary friend Cat, who didn't really exist but who makes a convenient narrator for a... Read more
Published 19 months ago by M. W. Hatfield
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
Only about 10% of this novel is actually about Catherine Howard. The rest is not really about anything at all - very bland and almost grinds to a halt in parts. Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2012 by Thalia
4.0 out of 5 stars gripping read
i find the Tudors facinating,but only recently i have started to read adult fiction set in this period,and i thought this seemed like a good place to start. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2012 by grace.r
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