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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

The Confession of Katherine Howard 
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780062011473
Pages: 320 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge


Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound  


Summary from publisher:

The tragic, moving, and gripping story of the ascendance and fall of Katherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, and the best friend she nearly dragged down with her.

When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk’s household she could not be more different than her poor relation, Cat Tilney. Yet, of all their companions, it is Cat, watchful and ambitious, to whom the seemingly frivolous young girl confides. When Katherine is summoned to the royal court at seventeen—to become, months later, the wife of Henry VIII after he casts off his previous queen—she leaves behind an ex-lover, Francis, with whom Cat is soon passionately involved.

But a future that seems assured for the pampered new queen and her maid-in-waiting lasts a brief year and a half, only to be imperiled by improper acts and scandalous allegations of girlhood love affairs. Imprisoned in the Tower and hoping to escape a most terrible fate, a frightened, desperate Katherine relates a version of events that only Cat recognizes as a lie—as more than one life is threatened by what she alone knows to be the truth about Katherine Howard’s past.
My Review:  

Apparently with the heat also comes lapses in brain power because I mixed my schedule up on every calendar I have (and I have many).

I have never been very interested in Henry VIII’s many marriages. Quack kings just never appealed to me. But I have acquired passable knowledge from my near obsessive watching of the History and History International channels (and of course, The Tudors). It’s one of those areas of history where I can converse but not fluently. I have more of those areas than I’d like to admit.

Katherine Howard has also never been my favorite of Henry’s wives- that title goes to Anne of Cleves. Katherine Howard was always too flighty and frivolous for me. I always looked down on her and preferred her older, more staid predecessors. But through the eyes of Kat Tilney, our narrator, I was able to get a more clear view of Katherine and I have to say I liked her. She was much smarter than I gave her credit for. I guess when comparing her to Henry’s other wives she did seem more flighty because she was a teenager and had very teenage behaviors.

I do have to say that the language was a bit jarring at first simply because it was so modern. It’s not what I’m used to in terms of historical fiction but it reminded me of that movie Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst. In the movie, the music perfectly clashed with the historical story being told and illustrated the point of Marie’s youth in ways that words never could. The language worked the same way here. It worked very well and definitely illustrated the point. The writing was also top notch and the historical detail was plentiful without being overwhelming. 

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.


  1. I am also a fan of Anne of Cleves - she must have been one smart cookie to have her marriage to Henry end with something other than her death!

    I like your comparison to the Marie Antionette movie. The music DID make a huge impact on the film and I think I understand how the modern language could do the same in this book.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  2. @heathertlc

    I love Marie Antionette both the film and the historical figure. I couldn't stop thinking of the film as I read this book and had no idea why. For some reason, it just fit and as soon as I started writing the review I figured out why.



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