Customer Reviews


14 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Objective, informative and very interesting....
This is an excellent well rounded book on Katherine Howard. She is often put to one side with Anne of Cleves as the less important of Henry VIII's wives, but her short life provides very interesting reading.
The author sets the scene, both politically in England as a whole and also the situations within the Howard family itself to set the platform for the reader...
Published on 27 Jan 2006 by Iceni Peasant

versus
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing
For much of its duration, this is not really a biography, as not enough details of the subject's earliest life are known. It is really an account of the Howards' relationship with Henry VIII and is interesting for that, but the author's style is a bit journalistic and sometimes repetitive, for example the constant reiteration of the point that Katherine's uncle the Duke...
Published on 19 July 2008 by John Hopper


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Objective, informative and very interesting...., 27 Jan 2006
By 
Iceni Peasant (Norfolk, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an excellent well rounded book on Katherine Howard. She is often put to one side with Anne of Cleves as the less important of Henry VIII's wives, but her short life provides very interesting reading.
The author sets the scene, both politically in England as a whole and also the situations within the Howard family itself to set the platform for the reader to understand and empathise with later events.
I found this book much more objective than the author's previous book on Anne Boleyn; in this one she gives the views for and against, providing evidence from contemporary documents as to whether Katherine Howard was knowingly guilty of her premarital escapades or whether it was something that she had very little control over. It is still ultimately up to the reader to which side they take. Interesting points are provided as to whether she was in fact sexually abused and why it was not frowned on in her time etc.
There is a lot of information on the court of Henry VIII and his relationship with Thomas Howard, Duke Of Norfolk(Katherine's uncle), and how this in turn affected the way Katherine was treated.
As always with this era there are 101 plots going on at any one time within the court and the author beautifully presents these in relation to Katherine and how the knife twisted and resulted in her execution rather than just divorce and shame. There are some good amounts of information on the characters of the other women that surrounded Katherine, and their actions...such as Lady Rochford.
A fascinating, enjoyable read!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Villanised females, 17 Sep 2006
As a youngster studying the six wives in school I was often entranced by the story of Katherine Howard. She has gone down in history as being a 'natural born tart' who distracted a sad old king while blantantly cuckolding him. But I always saw in my mind a young girl being faced with an awful death that had come from nowhere. And yet, she seemed brushed over and ignored.

But like Anne Boleyn before her she was the victim of a male-led society where women were feared and reviled, and because of this ultimately abused.

Joanna Denny finally gives Katherine Howard a book of her own. The fact that it has taken so long shows how hard it is for us to let go of the fact that some women 'deserve what they get'.

There are many faults with Ms Denny's book, and the scarcity of documents from the time contribute to some of them. I also feel that it would have been a more intellectually stimulating book if she had delved deeper into the feminist aspect of her story. Katherine was seen then, as now, as an irrelevant harlot. Ms. Denny paints her pretty much as an abused innocent who knew not what she did, but due to her sex and the fact she was married to the King not knowing was no defence.

Ms. Denny goes back to her past to find evidence of abuse and how this would have affected her personality and behaviour. She was the ultimate victime and would probably have been so even if her life had followed a different path.

It is Katherine Howard's main tragedy that unlike her cousin Anne Boleyn, she didn't change the world and in doing so make her mark on history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing, 19 July 2008
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy (Paperback)
For much of its duration, this is not really a biography, as not enough details of the subject's earliest life are known. It is really an account of the Howards' relationship with Henry VIII and is interesting for that, but the author's style is a bit journalistic and sometimes repetitive, for example the constant reiteration of the point that Katherine's uncle the Duke of Norfolk was simply using her as a pawn to pursue his dynastic ambitions. The author makes a good point that one's attitude towards Katherine depends in part on her assumed age at the time of her liaisons, about which there is disagreement, but she makes a good case for her birth as being in 1525, making her only 15 at her marriage to the King and probably less than 17 at her execution, thus making her less of the knowing late teenage flirt as which she has often been depicted and more of an abused victim. On the other hand, the author seems to be rather overly uncritical of Ann Boleyn and I feel no desire on this basis to read her biography of that earlier queen. Finally, the referencing is poor - there is a list of sources for each chapter, but no link given between these sources and quotes in the chapter itself; there are also random footnote references in the chapter that relate to nothing. Overall, somewhat disappointing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor little rich girl., 12 Feb 2007
Dont think that because of the title this book is JUST about Katherine Howard as it actually covers all of Henry's wives to a greater or lesser extent. I just finished reading the Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory before I started this book so it was easy to see the difference between the two. Ms Gregory takes artistic licence with her subjects so while details are less accurate she does make everything seem much more alive. Joanna Denny however has strived to make this an accurate and thoroughly researched book. She explains so much of what was going on in this period that at times it can read a little like a text book although a very enjoyable one at that. What this book does achieve is showing just how cruel, self-serving and ruthless the Duke of Norfolk is. He is a character that always seems to be kept on the outskirts as the story will normally focus on Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard or Henry VIII himself, however here he is everpresent and his influence is well demonstrated throughout his time at the Tudor Court.

Katherine was definitely a pawn in her Uncle Howard (Duke of Norfolk) games at Court while he was striving for power, wealth and influence. Of course Katherine was spoiled and materialistic but Ms Denny also illustrates the innocent side to Katherine and the fact that she was the victim of men throughout her life whether at the hands of her father, her lovers, her Uncle and ultimately her husband.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A sympathetic account spoiled by unsubstantiated opinions., 22 July 2012
By 
K. J. Greenland "kevinthegerbil" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy (Paperback)
Joanna Denny has written an extremely sympathetic account of the life of Henry VIII's fifth queen. Denny asserts that Katherine's age should determine how you view her; that she was only 14 or 15 when she married Henry and therefore largely not to blame for her past and present. Here is the only positive about the book.

The negatives, however, far outweigh the positives. As not much information is known about Katherine until her marriage to Henry, most of the book is dedicated to the the power-hungry Howard's relationship with Henry VII and VIII.

Historical biography covers a wide range of style. Denny's is certainly extremely popular. There is of course nothing wrong in this but to litter the book with unsubstantiated sweeping statements, errors and opinions which it seems are only made to make the reading matter more juicy is unforgivable and highly unprofessional.

The Howards were apparently aiming for the throne because of their descent from Joan, a daughter of King John! This is laughable to say the least. It was not until Henry Howard in 1546, whose mother was the daughter of the Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, executed in 1521, that a Howard was aiming to replace the Tudors due to his descent from Edward III.

She also asserts that Catherine of Aragon lied concerning the consummation of her marriage to Prince Arthur as the Duchess of Norfolk said so in court. There is of course no evidence either way concerning whether this marriage was consummated. She also states that Catherine plotted to overthrow Henry VIII and replace him with her daughter Mary. Again, there is no evidence.

Concerning Anne Boleyn, she believes that 'Henry knew very well that Anne was not guilty' and that 'public opinion swung in Anne's favour' against Jane Seymour who was 'not popular' while being 'sly and acquiescent' in order to replace Anne. Such sweeping statements which have no basis in fact are embarrassingly naive. These beliefs may be true but again there is no evidence.

Denny believes Katherine was an innocent girl highly influenced by the older girls in her dormitory whilst living under the roof of Agnes, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. This is to Denny's credit but not to her credit that Katherine Howard was a victim of child abuse. Here, she makes a classic error by thinking 16th and 20th century morals are identical.

It's a nice read but that's about it. Lacey Baldwin Smith's biography has nothing to worry about!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wife No. 5 - victim or villian?, 20 Nov 2005
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived... that's how kids learn the extraordinary marriage history of Henry VIII. Well this is book is about wife No.5, the second to be beheaded.
Katherine Howard has come down in history as the one that deserved her fate on the block as she was "born a tart". Yes indeed, she had lovers before her marriage and properly during the marriage to the king. The last aspect made her technically a traitor and therefore she deserved her punishment. Well, if this would be all this excellent book is about it would be properly a very boring one. However, Joanna Denny does not stop there.
First of all she put things into perspective, tell the reader much about the treatment of women at that very time. Females were mainly "flawed" human beings, to be controlled and rules by men by all means, married off at the highest price. And this in the highest circles... only few manages to live an independent life, being there own masters, achieving this often only through an early widowhood. But as more women died in childbed this was rather the exception. Katherine was no exception, neither particularly strong willed or clever or even deep. She was however attractive for men.
At an very early age she was properly sexually abused - at least we would describe it so today and Joanna Denny points this out quite clearly - which was later hold against her and she labelled a "born tart". Hardly justified I may say. Her family, especially her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, used her in the power game and tangled her before the disgustingly fat and sickly king. Well he took her ... suppose she had no choice. However, she was not clever enough to fulfil her position of queen consort. Whether she really committed adultery remains in the end unproven. I feel at least she would not have been convicted before a court of modern times. It seems likely that she did but Mrs. Denny points the reader to the fact that is was denied by all. She might have been in love with Thomas Culpepper but as well in a physical sense... well, in the end it did not matter as the hurt king would have shown no mercy... one has to love him!
I enjoyed reading Mrs. Denny's biography on the 5th wife and getting a new perspective of Katherine Howard and learn a lot about the lives of females in Tudor times. However, I feel that Mrs. Denny should have given a bit more attention to details as some facts given are contradicted elsewhere in the book. However, these are minor details compared to the all important basic message. Worthwhile reading!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Buy another book, 11 Aug 2013
This review is from: Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy (Paperback)
Biased and full of faults. More of a novel than a biography.
A real disappointment. I read this book after having read Baldwin Smith's Catherine Howard, which is much better.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wife No. 5 - villain or victim? Shedding new light on Katherine Howard, 12 Mar 2007
By 
Amelrode (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy (Paperback)
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived... that's how kids learn the extraordinary marriage history of Henry VIII. Well this is book is about wife No.5, the second to be beheaded.

Katherine Howard has come down in history as the one that deserved her fate on the block as she was "born a tart". Yes indeed, she had lovers before her marriage and properly during the marriage to the king. The last aspect made her technically a traitor and therefore she deserved her punishment. Well, if this would be all this excellent book is about it would be properly a very boring one. However, Joanna Denny does not stop there.

First of all she put things into perspective, tell the reader much about the treatment of women at that very time. Females were mainly "flawed" human beings, to be controlled and rules by men by all means, married off at the highest price. And this in the highest circles... only few manages to live an independent life, being there own masters, achieving this often only through an early widowhood. But as more women died in childbed this was rather the exception. Katherine was no exception, neither particularly strong willed or clever or even deep. She was however attractive for men.

At an very early age she was properly sexually abused - at least we would describe it so today and Joanna Denny points this out quite clearly - which was later hold against her and she labelled a "born tart". Hardly justified I may say. Her family, especially her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, used her in the power game and tangled her before the disgustingly fat and sickly king. Well he took her ... suppose she had no choice. However, she was not clever enough to fulfil her position of queen consort. Whether she really committed adultery remains in the end unproven. I feel at least she would not have been convicted before a court of modern times. It seems likely that she did but Mrs. Denny points the reader to the fact that is was denied by all. She might have been in love with Thomas Culpepper but as well in a physical sense... well, in the end it did not matter as the hurt king would have shown no mercy... one has to love him!

I enjoyed reading Mrs. Denny's biography on the 5th wife and getting a new perspective of Katherine Howard and learn a lot about the lives of females in Tudor times. However, I feel that Mrs. Denny should have given a bit more attention to details as some facts given are contradicted elsewhere in the book. However, these are minor details compared to the all important basic message. Worthwhile reading!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A questionable portrayal of the "rose without the thorn"., 23 July 2010
By 
This review is from: Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy (Paperback)
Joanna Denny is largely famous in Tudor academia for her controversial book "Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen", particularly for her violent condemnation of Catholic figures, namely Katherine of Aragon and her daughter the Princess Mary. Many have objected that her view of Anne Boleyn is far too simplistic and fails to appreciate this woman's complex character, religious beliefs and role in court culture. As it stands, "Katherine Howard" is similarly flawed, but not to the same extent as "Anne Boleyn".

To her credit, Denny refutes some of the arguments put forward by Lacey Baldwin Smith in 1961 which I myself refute too, as someone researching Katharine's life. She argues that Katherine was born in c.1525 (my research indicates a birth date a little bit earlier) and, although this is to an extent as questionable as Baldwin Smith's suggestion of 1520-1, her argument that Katharine was born later than most scholars believed does deserve commendation due to its potential in allowing new insights and interpretations of this queen's life. She also details the scheming negotiations of the Howard family in selecting Katharine as a maid of honour in the winter of 1539, although as most historians recognise, her role as the king's mistress could not then have been imaginable since Anne of Cleves was widely reported to be beautiful and was of excellent birth. What, perhaps, is best about this book is that it is less virulent towards Catholics compared with "Anne Boleyn", although that may largely result from the fact that Katharine, of course, was from the prominent Catholic family in England.

However, the book largely lets itself down by poor scholarship, unsubstantiated claims and reference to myths and legends which can in no way be borne out by historical evidence. Claims that "Henry very well knew that Anne was not guilty", referring to Thomas Howard duke of Norfolk as a "monster", Katharine as "little" and Jane Seymour as "not popular" indicate a lack of research and a desire to skate over finer historical details. Unlike commendable academic historians such as Professor Warnicke and Professor Ives, Denny fails to situate the evidence in its proper context and devise arguments following on from that. She resurrects the claim that Katharine's ghost haunts Hampton Court following her supposed last minute attempt to see the king (of which, furthermore, there is no contemporary evidence), claims that Jane Boleyn offered a speech on the scaffold in which she lamented for her actions in Anne Boleyn's downfall (which has been proved to have been no more than a later creation), and worst of all invents details. For instance, she claims that Katharine was chosen by her family to go to the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk's residence in 1533 at Anne's coronation; there is no evidence at all for this, we do not know when she was selected to complete her childhood at Lambeth.

A serious lack of scholarship is augmented by the book's failure to grasp Tudor social and cultural values, belief systems and protocol. Thus we are told that Jane Boleyn may have acted as a "mother figure" for Katharine once queen, completely ignoring the role played by Ladies of the Bedchamber in the Tudor period, their functions, and proximity to the queen. She consistently labels Katharine "a victim of child abuse", which is largely a creation of the twenty-first century. In this respect, Denny's work is as anachronistic as Baldwin Smith's famous claim that Katharine was "a juvenile delinquent", ignoring the fact that this social deviancy only arouse in the eighteen or nineteenth centuries, as my own research has indicated.

Following on from this work, Katharine continues to be largely misunderstood and misconceived. Historians and scholars alike repeatedly seem resigned to fail in their analyses of this queen, even more so, arguably, than Anne Boleyn. She is either characterised as a whore or a juvenile delinquent (thus ignoring attitudes towards female sexuality in the Tudor belief; primarily a view put forward by Baldwin Smith, Plowden, Weir), a victim of child abuse (Denny) or is portrayed in a completely modern light as a woman who understood her body's sexual yearnings and gave way to them (Lindsey, Starkey). All of these views are highly objectionable. They fail to place the queen's life in its proper historical context. If any of these views is accurate, one might say that Katharine, by the standards of her day and in looking at attitudes towards women, misogyny, and beliefs about female rule, was a whore, even though there is little evidence to fully support this.

Denny's work is ideal for the general public looking to learn something about Henry's tragic fifth queen. Unfortunately, it is by and large highly lacking in terms of serious historical scholarship, meaning that we are left with an inaccurate, misconceived, and anachronistic view of Katharine Howard.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A balanced and sympathetic look at Katherine Howard, 17 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy (Paperback)
This book is a marked improvement over Danny's other book on Anne Boleyn. This one manages to make the reader regard Katherine Howard in a different light. She's no longer seen as a pretty but dimwitted girl but rather as a victim of predatory males, whether they were the King of England or her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, a violent and thoroughly despicable character. Denny sheds light on the deplorable Tudor marriage practises where girls who were barely out of childhood were married off to men who were old enough to be their fathers or even in some cases, their grandfathers. Katherine Howard was a surplus female in the very large Howard clan, shipped off to her grandmother's, to be ignored and neglected in terms of education and morality. There she was initiated into sex at the age of 11 by her music tutor. Denny rightly calls this child abuse and Katherine should have been out of the running for consideration as a royal bride, but her family kept the scandal quiet. Historians including Denny are now in agreement that Katherine was 15, perhaps even younger when Henry VIII first showed any interest in her. Katherine simply wanted to please her family, and later her husband, as any Tudor girl of the time would have done. She did not have a malicious bone in her body but showed great courage in providing clothes for the imprisoned Margaret de la Pole when no one else dared lift a finger. In the end, the very qualities of her extreme youth which had attracted the King to her in the first place proved to be her undoing. A very tragic tale indeed and very well done by Denny!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy
Katherine Howard: A Tudor conspiracy by Joanna Denny (Paperback - 4 Jan 2007)
10.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews