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Customer Review

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 May 2010 16:03:44 BDT
H says:
A slight quibble - Katherine Howard was Henry's fifth wife, not his third. (Unless you start getting into all the technicalities about which marriages were ruled never to have been valid, in which case she was either his second wife or never his wife at all depending on whether the pre-contract to Dereham was true!!!).

Other than that, I think you've given a good sense of what the book's really about. I didn't like it myself, but still found this review helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2010 14:20:27 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 May 2010 14:23:16 BDT
Charliecat says:
You're quite right. Thank you for pointing that out I must have missed it when I was previewing the review. Have changed it now to the right wife!
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