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Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen


Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen

Katheryn Howard is only seven when her mother passes away, leaving her adrift with a father who is unable to care for her and their family due to a gambling habit and mounting debts. Her older sister, Isabel, takes her to live with their mother’s sister, and she is welcomed into a warm and loving home. When her beloved Aunt Margaret succumbs to an illness, once again she is packed off to another family member, this time to the Dowager Duchess at Norfolk House. Even though Katheryn is with family, she is essentially alone, learning to adapt to the expectations of those around her.

Katheryn grows into a lovely young woman who is thrilled by the attention her beauty brings her. With little to her name --- she may be beautiful and charming, but her branch of the Howard family has little money --- she relies on her charisma to get what she wants. Unfortunately, she also tends to lead with her heart rather than her head, putting herself in precarious romantic situations. After an ill-fated liaison with her music teacher, the Duchess ends the relationship for her by removing the tutor from her service.

"Alison Weir works wonders yet again. While there are no surprises in this story --- we all know what happens to Henry VIII’s wives --- she still makes it fresh and exciting."

While Katheryn is temporarily heartbroken, her love life perks up again when she falls for a cousin who has come into the service of the Duchess. Considering her financial situation and that there is no dowry to speak of, she falls in love with the idea of marrying for love and makes promises she will be unable to keep later.

Young and susceptible to suggestion, Katheryn is eager to please. Combined with her perceived innocence and beauty, her family believes she is the perfect person to enact their perilous plan to place a second Howard queen on the Tudor throne. The Duchess and her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, devise a scheme to marry her to Henry VIII and once more bring fortune and fame to their family.

As hoped, Henry falls in love with Katheryn’s beauty and youth, keen to feel young again himself. Katheryn, while not in love with Henry, loves him as her king and does what she can to keep him happy and secure her place as queen for her family. Unfortunately, her past is unwilling to stay quiet, and the people who know of her youthful transgressions keep seeping back into her life, wanting favors and places of position at court. There is only so much she can do to hold her secrets at bay before the king finds out.

It is easy to see why so many people adore sweet and loveable Katheryn. Her youth and ability to charm those around her bring her the fortune and praise she craves, but her lack of education and political skills trap her in a situation that she is unable to navigate. She is blindsided by family looking for a way to get back into the good graces of the king and willing to do anything they can, including sacrificing one of their own, to get there.

Alison Weir works wonders yet again. While there are no surprises in this story --- we all know what happens to Henry VIII’s wives --- she still makes it fresh and exciting. We meet Katheryn at a young age, being handed off to a string of relatives to be cared for. In her most formative years, she is left to her own devices and then led astray. While you may not feel too badly for her, considering the decisions she makes, you will be intrigued by her. If you are like me and cannot pass up an opportunity to read about the Tudor court, this one is for you.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on May 15, 2020

Katheryn Howard, The Scandalous Queen
by Alison Weir

  • Publication Date: May 18, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 1101966629
  • ISBN-13: 9781101966624