The King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby
Catherine Howard’s story is such a sad one. She was younger when Henry married her than any of his other wives – even Catherine of Aragon who was 24 when the 18 year old Henry married her in 1509, 31 years before he married Catherine Howard. She was perhaps 18 or 19, married to this rapidly deteriorating, quite overweight man of nearly 50 who had a nasty, festering sore on his leg that wouldn’t heal. Anne was used by her family for material gain, but it always seems to me as if she had SOME control over what happened. Catherine seems much more naive, for all of her youthful indiscretions.
Naive certainly describes the Catherine Howard of Alisa M. Libby’s “The King’s Rose.” She never realized all of the drama and intrigue inherent in court life until she was thrust in the middle of it. I really, really liked Libby’s Catherine. Like the Catherine I so admired in Diane Haeger’s “The Queen’s Mistake,” she seemed real, unlike the one-dimensional girl typically depicted. Although she had been manipulated by family and unable to say no when Henry proposed, she still tried to be her own person, all the while following a much more complicated sense of morality than she is usually credited with.
“The King’s Rose” is a young adult novel and I think it hits all of its notes perfectly. Obviously, due to Catherine’s promiscuous youth, the crimes of which she is accused, and her execution it is on the more mature side of young adult literature. The writing was perfect for a young adult novel – quick and engaging, but not dumbing anything down, although Libby did tend to give a bit more background than many novelists but, again, this was done in a way that felt natural and won’t annoy those for whom this is their umpteenth Tudor novel. This definitely had more of a young adult feel than other novels I have read about Henry’s wives, but it completely worked, especially for the young Catherine.
I would definitely recommend this for both teens and adults, anyone who wants Catherine’s view from another perspective or who is looking for an entry point to the history of Henry’s other queens.
Source: sent to me by the author