19 Jul 2016

THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN.

THE TAMING OF THE QUEEN by PHILIPPA GREGORY.

INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: Why would a woman marry a serial killer? 

Because she cannot refuse ...

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives - King Henry VIII - commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as Regent. 

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and the first woman to publish in English, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy - the punishment is death by fire and the king's name is on the warrant... 

FIRST SENTENCE {Hampton Court Palace, Spring 1543}: He stands before me, as broad as an ancient oak, his face like a full moon caught high in the topmost branches, the roles of creased flesh upturned with goodwill.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 37}: She gives me a reassuring nod as if to say that she is here, she is watching over me, her friends will report on what the king says in private, her husband will praise me to him. I am under the protection of my family, ranged against all the other families. They expect me to persuade the king to the reform of the church, and to gain them wealth and position, to find places and fees for their children.

SOURCE: Purchased from The Book People.

MY THOUGHTS: I hold my hands up to being contrary. Not normally adverse to reading a series out of sequence, Philippa Gregory's novels are an exception to the rule. Why I don't know as very often they are what I'd consider stand-alone novels albeit ones that often form a continuation of life at the court of one monarch or another - in this case  the story of Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

Not having read the synopsis (I admit I just saw the name Philippa Gregory and instantly bought a copy) I was expecting The Taming Of The Queen to be the latest in her Cousin's War series and thus was somewhat unnerved to discover it did in fact belong to a much earlier series ('The Tudor Court' books). AND not only that but, not a book that fitted in at the end of that series, but, if the books were to be read chronologically (and not in order of publication), actually stood fifth in the series (with what was to be the second book yet to be published).*

Anyway, I digress.

OK, so as an author frequently accused of writing creative fantasy rather than historical fiction, its probably true that for those of us familiar with Kateryn Parr's story this novel might not have too much to offer as far as historical facts about Parr's life go but there is no getting away from the fact that Gregory has a tremendous way of bringing characters to life. For goodness sake, her portrayal of King Henry (and in particular his increasing ill health) found me with tears in my eyes on more than one occasion - no mean feat given his tyrannical nature.

All in all, despite her somewhat annoying habit of belabouring certain details aside, I thought The Taming Of The Queen saw the author back on form after what have been considered by many as some of her weakest works. Vibrant, regal, dramatic, shocking (Oh my goodness! The fate of Anne Askew who found herself on the rack) - the minutiae of the Tudor court is captured perfectly. 

The Taming of The Queen was read for the 2016 Reading Challenge: 'Book You Own But Have Never Read' category.

* The Tudor Court Series in chronological order (First published dates according to Goodreads in brackets) ...
1. The Constant Princess (2005)
2. Three Sisters, Three Queens (to be published August 2016)
3. The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
4. The Boleyn Inheritance (2006)
5. The Taming Of The Queen (2015)
6. The Queen's Fool (2003)
7. The Virgin's Lover (2004)
8. The Other Queen (2008)


8 comments:

Gina R said...

Ah yes, every once in a while I too stumble on a series that just HAS to be read in order. Sounds like it made an impression nonetheless.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have only read Philippa's very early series, 'Wideacre' and one or two of her stand alone novels.

Of course both the 'Tudor Court' and 'Cousins' War' series, have been recommended to me on more than one occasion, however I am notoriously bad at reading a series in order and all recommendations came with strict instructions to read the episodes in sequence.

How that works when the author throws in a 'curved ball' by publishing a new book which slots into the series some way in the past, I have no idea.

As much as I admire Philippa's writing technique, descriptive character building and historical content, and despite your own excellent and well grounded review, I think I'll pass on this one.

Thanks for sharing :)

Yvonne

Kelly said...

I read Wideacre (only the first book) years ago and the first in the Cousins' War series last year. I enjoyed both, but don't know if I'll ever get around to reading either of these series in their entirety. I just have too much else to read! At least I'm on the same page time-wise with this having just started Lamentation by C.J. Sansom.

Melliane said...

It's true that I know more her fantasy books but I really need to read more of her novels

Brian Joseph said...

I am a stickler for reading series in the order that they were published so I would not begin with this particular book.

These historical novels set among the British Monarchical Dynasties seem so popular these days. I have not read any but some of it sounds very good. Thus, I would like to give this series a try.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I have yet to read this series but I so want to read it! I often read out of order so I know how that goes. :) Hm... I do like the sound of reading about the lesser known wives. Also great fodder for a fiction book. Yea, I need to read these.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

I used to read period fiction (historical, royalty fiction) but don't know why the interest just fades after my late-teens.

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

I'm not sure I'd read it because I find Gregory's twisting of the facts hard to read, but I do love that sentence you've included from the blurb. Really puts it in perspective!