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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

Title- The Confession of Katherine Howard

Author- Suzannah Dunn

Publisher- Harper Press a division of Harper Collins

Release Date- May 27, 2010

Format- Hardback

Pages- 307

Rating- 4.5 Crowns (Although It Should be a 5)

Cat Tilney (a poor relation to the Dowager Duchess) has high expectations of what life will be like growing up in the household of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s household. For years her mother has instilled in her the qualities and graces on should possess when in the service of person of high standing, although all Cats previous notions are about to fly out the widow with the arrival of a young Katherine Howard. While Katherine is a Howard it is made known that, she is a lesser Howard, one that can be tossed aside and forgotten about. Katherine and Cat are as different as night and day, an immediately Cat becomes highly suspicious of this single-minded girl. Much to Cats dismay she finds that as the two girls grow up together the closer they become. Both girls embark on a summer romance, although Katherine is willing to further than what is deemed respectable, while Cat is more demure and guarded.

When Katherine turns seventeen, she is surprised to find that the Howard’s have regained favour with Henry VIII, and she is called to court to serve the new Queen Anne. Finding her rise to court life to exhilarating to refuse, she dismisses her lover Francis with the wave of her hand moving on to a more influential man, Thomas Culpepper. Not only did Katherine leave behind Francis she has left behind her good friend and confident Cat, and in Katherine’s absence, the two grow closer together.

Soon King Henry finds that his Queen is displeasing and sets his sights on young, attractive Katherine. A short annulment later and Katherine finds herself Queen of England. She immediately calls for Cat to be one of her ladies-in-waiting. When Cat comes to serve her Queen, she is uneasy about the fact Katherine is carrying on an affaire with the King’s favoured attendant, Thomas Culpepper. When the Queen’s past begins to resurface, Cat begins to pickup on the lies that Katherine is telling which have implicated Francis, the only man that Cat has loved. With her lover imprisoned in the Tower on London, and her Queen in jeopardy of losing everything what will Cat, the one person who knows each and every deep dark secret of Katherine’s life do?

This has to be one of my favourite books regarding Katherine Howard. I loved how she told the story through the eyes of an observer who has been with Katherine throughout her life both with the Duchess and then as Queen. By creating the story through the eyes of Cat Tilney, Suzannah Dunn has added a depth to the story that made it rich in both emotions and plot. I also thought the text and historical aspects were both rich and informative.

The book also had me thinking about the real Katherine Howard, and I do believe that she was very self-centered, and thought herself to be untouchable. She believed that the King’s love would save her no matter what trespasses she had committed. The one thing that I do not understand about Katherine is why she could not see the path that led her own cousin, Anne Boleyn, to the scaffold. Surely you would think that that would weigh on her mind while she was carrying on her affaire with Thomas Culpepper. Regardless of his love for Katherine, her betrayal was too much to the ageing King to accept and like her cousin and predecessor, Anne, Katherine wounded Henry’s vanity to the point of no return, he would have no other grand romance and in his eyes Katherine must pay the ultimate price.

I also wonder what Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, was thinking. She was more or less the author of her husbands demise, and she better than most was aware of how lethal the Kings wrath could be. During her imprisonment in the Tower she is recorded as being insane, whether her insanity was true or a cleaver ploy to avoid the executioners block no one will ever know, as the King passed a law allowing to the insane to executed.

Also I wanted to add that Cat Tilney was a real person she was taken prisoner in the Tower at the time of the inquiry into Katherine’s past

On the 10th of December both Francis Durham and Thomas Culpepper were executed at Tyburn. Queen Katherine along with Lady Rochford were executed on the 13th of February at the Tower Green.

My favourite lines from the book:

“England: firelight, and fireblush; wine-dark, winking gemstones and a frost of pearls. Wool as soft as silk, in leaf-green and moss; satins glossy like a midsummer midnight or opalescent like winter sunrise. To see us there, no one would have guessed that we were barely free of a decade of destruction: the stripping of the churches, and dismantling of monasteries, the chaining of monks to the walls to die, the smash of a sword blade into a queen’s bared neck. None of it had actually happened to us, though; it’d passed by us as we’d sat embroidering………..”

“If felt like to me the beginning of our future. I’d never had any reason to doubt it……………….. This is who we are: the perfect queen and her faithful retinue. Now, I wish I could go back, patter over the lavish carpets to tap us on the shoulders, whisper in our ears and get us out alive. Little did I know it, but, that night we were already ghosts in our own lives.”

If you enjoyed reading The Confessions of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn then I recommend reading

The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn
(This was the first book by Suzannah that I read and I loved the way she wrote about Anne Boleyn)

Also for another fictional account of Katherine Howard please check out The King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby

My thanks to the publisher for sending me this copy to review.

Visit Angela Renee @ Renee's Reads



good review.

Daphne said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one at some point. I really liked The King's Rose.

Jenny Girl said...

Interesting! Never read anything this Queen so I may give this a try. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...


Stacy at A Novel Source said...

oh beautiful review! i'm definitely adding it to my tbr list!

Kristin said...

Great review...I'm going to have to add this to my TBR list. I recently just got into historical fiction thanks to Philippa Gregory and her Tudor series. I have found a few other authors that wrote about the Tudor period and am always looking for others.