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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction with a Capital F…, 30 Jan. 2006
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Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
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Ford’s The Fifth Queen trilogy deals with, as may be conjectured, Katherine Howard – after all, how many other monarchs have had five or more queens? If you are at all familiar with your Tudor history then I’m afraid you’re not going to find the Katherine Howard you are familiar with here. Ford’s Katherine is tall, witty and an expert in Latin. The real Katherine we know was petite and barely literate. Here she is Ford’s Catholic martyr and romantic heroine.
Many of the other characters, or historical figures, are pretty well drawn, although the Lady Mary comes across as a thoroughly unpleasant woman, sneering and snickering her way through the book.
Usually blatant historical inaccuracies in novels like these really get my goat. I shudder at the very name of Phillipa Gregory. Nevertheless I did enjoy the Fifth Queen trilogy and got through it reasonably quickly, being nearly 600 pages in all. The writing was good, the settings realistic and characters behaved consistently, even where they weren’t as they were supposed to be! This is another example of why you should not judge a book by its first chapter as I did think it would be a struggle to finish, but afterwards I got drawn in to the story.
All in all an enjoyable read, although not a great book. I think sometimes it says more about its author and the Edwardian period than Katherine Howard and the Tudors!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read, 30 Aug. 2012
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Mr. R. F. W. Freeman "Freddy" (Buckinghamshire) - See all my reviews
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I really wanted to like this book. I do like historical fiction, especially if it is set in Tudor times and writers of historical fiction are allowed a certain amount of poetic justice. Just not too much. Unfortunately, for me, Ford Madox Ford's Katherine just bears no resemblance to what we know and requires too much of a leap in the imagination. I just could not suspend judgment and believe that Katherine Howard was chaste and learned when we know the opposite was unfortunately true. The author even changed her appearance. I found the style of writing extremely wordy and difficult to follow at times. But the characters, apart from Katherine, did ring true and the writing suits the time and place. But I'm sorry to say, I did not really enjoy it and feel in a strange sort of way that I ought to have done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fact of Fiction, 15 April 2014
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I suspect that 'The Fifth Queen' was written for an audience who knew little about Tudor history. Ford Madox Ford creates an image of Katherine Howard as a saint, a saint prepared to live and die (and suffer the advances of Henry VIII) in an attempt to set back the reformation and 'save' the established church. But she is not the only historical personage who is distorted in the FMF lens. Take Katherine's tutor, Nicholas Udall. What a remarkable life. Headmaster of Eton. Sentenced to death for buggery with the boys. Saved by the intervention of two of Cromwell's men. Intimate of Queen Mary and Katherine Parr. Author of 'Ralph Roister Doister' and as such now regarded as the father of English Comedy. And, though still not of the marrying kind, ending his life as Headmaster of Westminster. In Ford Madox Ford's novel, Udall is an unashamed womaniser prepared to risk all for a petticoat.
So, though brilliantly written, 'The Fifth Queen' cannot really be enjoyed as historical fiction. As historical fantasy, perhaps.
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