As a big fan of historical fiction, particularly related to anything King Henry VIII, I was eager to dive into THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN. But it didn’t turn out to be one of my favorites. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.
Although I know quite a bit about Henry’s last queen, Katherine (Kathryn) Parr, it was interesting to read Philippa Gregory’s take, which is different.
Gregory’s presents Katherine coming to the crown as a twice-widowed and lovesick (for Thomas Seymour) woman, not particularly well-educated or knowledgeable about religious reform. Only after becoming Queen does Katherine begin to explore, appreciate and support religious reform, eventually publishing her own translations and prayers — something virtually unknown for a woman at this time, even for a Queen.
I personally found it a bit hard to swallow that in her brief time (3 and a half years) as Henry’s wife, Katherine was able to develop the skills needed to be a published author and renowned translator. It seems to me she must have been better educated and already interested in reform by the time she married the King. But this may simply be my personal preference and maybe Gregory’s version makes a more interesting story.
The novel itself felt a bit long to me and I found Henry’s back and forth religious beliefs somewhat tedious, as he pitted both conservative Catholics and dedicated Protestants against one another in an effort to exercise absolute power. Henry himself comes off as a horrid despot of a king and husband. In fact, the portrait Gregory presents of the King was more intriguing to me than than her portrayal of Katherine Parr. I was also disappointed that she didn’t include in this novel what happened to Katherine after the King’s death, which is its own delicious story.
More about the multi-talented and extremely prolific historical novelist, Philippa Gregory.
You may also be interested in my reviews of other historical novels by Philippa Gregory: