Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 25, 2015
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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 a published author, 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... From an author who has described all of Henry's queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer."

Kateryn Parr is the infamous Henry VIII's sixth wife and although I have read many books about Henry, I am not too familiar with the end of his reign.  Kateryn, newly widowed, has caught the eye of Henry and before she knows it, she is now his queen as no one can say no to Henry.  Henry is a lot different than his younger self. He suffers from an old leg wound that is constantly oozing and he is morbidly obese, yet this doesn't stop him from thinking he is God's greatest gift.  Kateryn wants to keep her head, so she has to figure out a way to deal with Henry and deny her true feelings for Thomas Seymour, whom she was seeing before she was made queen.  Philippa Gregory's The Taming of the Queen is another captivating installment about the Tudor Court and Henry's last days as King.

I can't say that I was overly interested in Kateryn in The Taming of the Queen.  I liked her well enough, but she lacked that extra drama that Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn might bring.  Kateryn is more into her scholarly work and maintaining Henry's favor, which I guess is why she kept her head despite the fact that many wives did not.  I did feel for her when dealing with Henry though. I can't imagine dealing with such a person on daily basis...someone that has that much power and changes him mind so quickly. It's hard to anticipate his moods.  Plus, he is still very much obviously in love with Queen Jane who died in childbirth and gave him a son.  No one will ever take her place, so that's a reality that Kateryn had to deal with on a daily basis.

Gregory did a great job portraying Henry at the end of his reign in The Taming of the Queen. He's pretty much a monster.  Gregory described him physically and I felt nauseous just thinking about his forever oozing leg wound.  Not even taking his looks into consideration, he behavior was no better. He was cocky, unpredictable, unrealistic, and downright scary when he was in a bad mood. There were a few scenes where I was worried Kateryn was going to end up like Anne Boleyn.

The Taming of the Queen isn't my favorite of Gregory's novels, but it's still pretty interesting if you want to know more about the last days of Henry's reign.  There are some slow parts dealing with Kathryn's studies and discussion of religion, but other than that, fans of the Tudor Court will enjoy this novel. 


  1. I'm hesitant about reading Philippa Gregory's books (due to lack of historical accuracy in the ones I have read) but this sounded interesting to me. Katherine Parr was a very intelligent woman (except for her inexplicable love for the cad Thomas Seymour) and I remember reading about how she was able to manage Henry VIII and bring his children together. She amazingly survived her close call as his advisers wanted to get rid of her. I always felt sorry for her as she survived Henry and then ended up in a bad marriage with Thomas. A really interesting historical figure.

    1. Haha- you made me laugh out loud with your reference to Thomas Seymour- so true! I think if you admire Kateryn, then you might enjoy this novel! I hope you can check it out soon. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

  2. I really should get back into reading Gregory's books. I have enough of them sitting prettily (and unread) on my shelves. I'm not at all familiar with Henry, period. So as unpleasant as a character he might be, I'm quite intrigued regardless. Brilliant review, Christina!

    1. I love Philippa Gregory...although I prefer her Cousins' War series a bit more than her Tudor Court. I hope you get to read her novels soon....I highly recommend The White Queen. Thanks for visiting, Joy!


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