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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
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...
Published on 4 Aug 2010 by Y. Hannon

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Confession of Katherine Howard
I found this a fascinating read, written mainly from the point of view of her maid, Cat Tilney.
I did not like the photograph on the front of the book, and found some of the English too modern, like 'would've' rather than would have, which grated on me, but I would rate it as a good and intriguing read.
Published on 25 July 2011 by D. J. Lay


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 4 Aug 2010
By 
Y. Hannon "YVH" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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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
By 
Charliecat (Oxfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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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
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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. And the big events of the period tend to happen off-stage so that we're not distracted by them.

I'm usually very wary of fiction set in the Tudor period as it's a field that I work in but this is one of the best novels about it that I've read, that genuinely stands up as a novel in its own right, not just a series of familiar historical set-pieces strung together. Excellent.
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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
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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 nave, 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. Cat is not included and knows very little about this period in Katherine's life until Katherine weds the king and she is summoned to court.

Katherine Howard isn't as well documented as Anne Boleyn in historical fiction, and I like the fact that we only really learn about her through Cat (who was also a real person in history), however because of this we never really get to know Katherine that well, and I can only guess that is the intention. The problem with this is that (admittedly this may be influenced by the fact that the outcome of the events is well-documented) you don't care about Katherine that much, you don't root for her at the end. In an about turn it seems that Katherine was the nave one, never expecting her actions to catch up with her, and to become accountable for her risks. In the end Cat seems to be the stronger figure, and you do hope that all will be well for her, but she does come over as a bit wishy-washy in places.

The author, Susannah Dunn, is an established author who has written other Tudor based historical novels. I enjoyed her story-telling, and I liked how she brought little-known people to life, I would certainly consider reading other works of hers. The book is engaging and well-written although the language used by the characters is a little too contemporary for my liking. Ultra-modern phrases such as `she would be a laugh' and `we hung around together' just didn't sit right with me. I don't particularly want to read Tudor English either, but toning down of the modern phrases would have been preferred. It is not a big book - my (over-sized paperback) copy ran to 226 pages and I think it would be enjoyable to most readers, whether they were historical fiction fans or not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable., 22 Sep 2010
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I bought this with some dread in preparation for a long trip, as my relationship with Dunn's writing has been up and down to say the least, I couldn't finish either the Queen of Subtleties or Queen of Sorrows, but didn't dislike The Sixth Wife so ordered this as fascinated with Katherine Howard and I must say, I liked this the most without a doubt. An interesting and tragic story, well told and quite haunting. Some of the language is contemporary but I don't think it detracted from the characters or the story. It really brought home the tragedy of Henry's fifth wife. Even if you're jaded with Tudor fiction give this a go.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read!, 9 Sep 2011
I confess that I'm not the best at reading historical novels mainly due to the fact that I get lost in the detail!! But this one I found I could not put down; it was intriguing, interesting and compelling.... as soon as I finished this one I bought another one. History has always been an enigma to me as detailed writing just wears me down, at last I've found something that I can finish and enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Confession of Katherine Howard, 25 July 2011
By 
D. J. Lay "deelay" (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Confession of Katherine Howard (Paperback)
I found this a fascinating read, written mainly from the point of view of her maid, Cat Tilney.
I did not like the photograph on the front of the book, and found some of the English too modern, like 'would've' rather than would have, which grated on me, but I would rate it as a good and intriguing read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book and well worth a read, 28 Jun 2011
By 
J. Kemp (Ashford, Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Confession of Katherine Howard (Paperback)
For some reason, there is something that I don't like about Susanna Dunn's writing, which I just can't put my finger on. I think it's that she writes about these inspiring women, but not from their viewpoints and I spend most of the novel desperate to get inside their heads and out of these fictional characters. But, I'll give her that, it's a good spin and a twist on most fictional novels about the Tudor period which have sadly been done to death, almost.

However, I LOVED her presentation of Katherine Howard. Completely different from Phillipa Gregory's charming and silly sweet Katherine Howard, but no less of a character. She wrote her as a mature young woman, still too young to be queen, but far from the annoying Katherine Howard that haunts Emily Purdy's: - 'The Tudor Wife.'

So guys, it's well worth a read. If you've read what I've just written and what I've told you, you won't be disappointed. I promise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very dangerous game..., 2 Jun 2011
By 
C. Rucroft "The little bookworm" (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Confession of Katherine Howard (Paperback)
Having studied the Tudor period for my a-levels and having an interest in it, I looked forward to this. I had heard Suzannah Dunn speaking about it and she seemed to have done her research well.

The book didn't disappoint. It is told from the story of Cat Tilney, a close friend of Katherine and part of the queen's household. It was a refreshing change to see what unfolds from her perspective. I also thought Dunn had done an exceptional job of explaining what happened without making it boring or too complicated.

It shocked me how naive Katherine was. At times I was shouting 'what are you doing?!'. She truly believed that Thomas Culpepper was what she deserved, for having to put up with the king. Historians have labelled her as a silly little girl. I think she was quite the opposite. She knew exactly what she was doing. As it says in the book, 'she was a girl who couldn't help herself.'

It lost a star because there were some grammatical errors that really irritated me and I did find myself unsure of who was who at times (perhaps this says more about how much I concentrated in history!).

The ending has been criticized by some but I found it perfect. After all, we are all aware of what happens. For me, it's the build up that is the most interesting.

This was a book that I really enjoyed. It's not a history textbook and if that's what you are expecting, you'll be sadly disappointed. If you want a good novel, based on history, you could do a lot worse than this!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Confess - I enjoyed it!, 26 Jun 2010
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
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The only previous book I have read by Susannah Dunn was The Queen of Subtleties which I wasn't much taken with, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this latest offering much more.

The story is told in the first person by Catherine Tiley, a lady of Katherine Howard's household when Queen and one of those who grew up with her, ostensibly under the eye of the dowager Duchess of Norfolk. The action starts when Katherine is queen and just before the scandal of her past life errupts, but there are long sections of 'flashback' into the earlier lives of 'Kate' and 'Cat'.

Cathien Tilney (or Tylney - no standardised spelling!) was a really historical figure, but not one about whom much is known; I think that probably makes it easier for an author if they are going to write in the first person.

As I said, I did enjoy this book and found it well written and engaging. Also, as far as possible we do stick with historical fact and don't introduce anything ridiculous as I have encountered in other supposedly historical novels. The internal logic of the book works, although I can't reconcile the Katherine Howard of this novel quite with what is known of the real historical character; the Katherine in the book seems so much more poised and in control of everything than the slightly naive teenager she usually comes across as. It almost felt out of character for her to break down near the end of the novel.
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The Confession of Katherine Howard
The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn (Paperback - 12 May 2011)
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