I must admit I was disappointed in this book. I thought the premise of a novel for each of Henry VIII's wives was a wonderful idea. And don't get me wrong - Katherine of Aragon is my favourite of Henry VIII's wives, and I've no fondness for the king himself. And yes, it was a good idea to tell the story through the eyes of one of Katherine's ladies - Estrella - so as to avoid rehashing a story told many times before.
However, the problem is (for me anyway) Estrella is simply not a compelling character. I found her dull as dishwater, and I simply couldn't understand the constant references throughout the novel to her 'fiery' nature - I didn't see a trace of it! I just wasn't interested at all in her little romances with courtiers, I don't think they added anything whatsoever to the book.
Also, I found the scene where Henry informed Katherine he wanted a divorce ridiculous - it all happens so suddenly. He more or less walks in and says 'it's over'. I think Henry himself is portrayed rather unfairly. He was no saint - that's an understatement - but at one point Estrella speculates that Henry 'wouldn't hesitate' to kill his daughter Mary, which I think is something he never, ever would have considered.
I gave the book 2 stars, not 1, because it's not entirely without it's redeeming features; a sympathetic story, reasonable characters, but it lost a lot of points not only for what I mentioned above, but also for some historical inaccuracies, particularly regarding dates. I wouldn't reccommend it, unless you want to buy absolutely every novel ever written on the subject.
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