Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review: The Confession of Katherine Howard

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 320pp
ISBN-13: 9780062011473

(Received for review from TLC Tours)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Suzannah Dunn on the WEB: Website, Facebook

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

The tragic, moving, and gripping story of Katherine Howard. Henry VIII's fifth wife, and the best friend she nearly took down with her.

When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk's household, poor relation Cat Tilney is deeply suspicious of her. The two girls couldn't be more different: Cat, watchful and abitious; Katherine, interested only in clothes and boys. Their companions are in thrall to Katherine, but it's Cat in whom Katherine confides. Summoned to court at seventeen, Katherine leaves Cat in the company of her ex-lover, Francis, with whom Cat begins a serious love affair.

Within months, the king has set aside his latest wife for Katherine. The future seems assured for the new queen and her maid-in-waiting, although Cat would feel more confident if Katherine hadn't embarked on an affair with one of the king's favored attendants, Thomas Culpepper.

For a blissful year and a half, it seems that Katherine can have everything she wants. But then allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Desperately frightened, Katherine recounts a version of events which implicates Francis but which Cat knows to be a lie. With Francis imprisoned in the Tower, Cat alone knows the whole truth of Katherine Howard's past.


Suzannah Dunn once again thrills fans with her latest historical fiction novel. The Confession of Katherine Howard, takes a well known historical character and brings her story to life. Though little is known about the real Katherine Howard, Dunn brings poignancy and clarity to her character. Readers will find themselves taken back in time to Henry VIII's England where accusations and betrayal were very day occurrences and where loyalty alone did not always ensure your life.

At age twelve Katherine Howard goes to live with the Duchess of Norfolk where she meets Cat Tilney. Katherine and Cat were not fast friends, as Cat was suspicious of this new girl, who was always the center of attention. As a young girl Katherine was a flirt and loved the boys, but when she met Francis Dereham everything changed. She loved him but their relationship was never to be as Katherine was summoned to King Henry's court when she was seventeen. Cat is left behind and she and Francis take comfort with each other. But, when Henry makes Katherine his fifth wife and queen, she and Cat are reunited. Accusations, however threaten to put them on different sides. Katherine is forced to implicate Francis and he is thrown in Tower awaiting execution. Cat knows that Katherine is lying but will she choose to tell the truth or protect her friend?

Dunn's research for her historical novels is always wonderful. It gives her books a feeling of authenticity. Her story and her characters are believable and readers are easily drawn into her novels. Katherine Howard is a very famous character as Henry VIII's fifth wife, but so little is actually known about her, even the year she was born is somewhat shrouded in mystery. One of the great feats of historical fiction is taking a character that is virtually a mystery and giving that character a life, a back story, a purpose. Dunn pulls that off in The Confession of Katherine Howard flawlessly.

Katherine becomes a real person for readers. At she is young orphaned girl who meets someone who becomes her best friend. Later she finds love but is forced to leave it. Then we see her a confident queen, until rumors that she had an understanding with Francis Dereham before her marriage to Henry threatens her standing and ultimately her life. Then we see her as a frightened young woman at her wits end. Willing to give up her friend and lover to save her life. Her story is compelling and full of surprises. Dunn did a fantastic job of bringing Katherine's story to light and giving readers a haunting look at what people are willing to sacrifice.

Henry is portrayed much as he usually is. Very pompus, very demanding and without much of a conscience. But after the beheading of Katherine readers see a change in Henry that is surprising. He begins to go down hill at an alarming rate. Some think that had to do with guilt over Katherine's death. I thought that Dunn showed Henry as someone who was used to getting what he wanted. Yet he was vulnerable. The fact that he had no legitmate heir was something that haunted Henry. He was also a very sexual man who had many women, but never seemed to care deeply for any of them. But, Henry was a man, like any other. He has his faults and they were many and Dunn does a remarkable job of showing readers how Henry's mind worked. It was fascinating.

I recommend this one to historical fiction fans and those interested in the Tudor's. This a story about a girl who came from nothing and became queen. It's a story about friendship and the ties that bind people together. It's about sacrifice and what that does to a person. It's a great book that I think many will really enjoy.

The Confession of Katherine Howard is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I am giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag.

Suzannah Dunn is the author of ten previous novels, all of which haven been critically acclaimed. She has written three historical novels. The Queen's Subtlet
ies, The Sixth Wife, and The Queen's Sorrow.


heathertlc said...

I've always had such pity for Katherine. Surely she had no idea what she was getting into when she married Henry! Poor girl. :(