56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Poor Katherine Howard...
, 26 April 2010
This review is from: The Confession of Katherine Howard (Hardcover)
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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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