The Queen’s Mistake – Book Review

the queen's mistake

The Queen’s Mistake by Diane Haeger

Who here is suffering from Tudor fatigue?  Show of hands please, people.  At times it seems like nothing new under the sun can be written about them, particularly during Henry VIII’s reign.  But really, although I’m Anne Boleyn-ed out, there IS actually still fresh material in some of Henry’s later wives.  I’ve read very little that focuses on Jane or Anne of Cleves.  Slightly more studied in historical fiction are the latter Catherines: Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr.  I’ve read some about both of these women, but not an overwhelming amount.  It can be easy to get bored with Catherine Howard quickly, though.  Basic storyline in most books dealing with Katherine Howard: she’s young (younger than Mary Tudor) and Henry *thinks* she is an innocent ‘rose without a thorn,’ but she’s really quite promiscuous, in a vapid sort of way.

Well move over, Catherine Howard cliche, Diane Haeger is here to give us a fresh take on the woman who was Henry’s queen for just over a year.  The basic story of Catherine’s life is that she was the daughter of a poor youngest son.  Like Anne Boleyn she was the niece of the Duke of Norfolk.  Because her family had no money and she was pretty, Catherine was raised by her grandmother, the dowager Duchess of Norfolk.  The Duchess’ house was not particularly well supervised and she engaged in some sort of illicit relations with a couple of young men at her grandmother’s house.  Eventually her uncle Norfolk took her to court where she caught the eye of Henry VIII as he was in the process of un-marrying Anne of Cleves.  Henry made Catherine his fifth wife and was extremely pleased with her for a little more than a year, until news came to him of her promiscuous past, along with allegations of an affair with Thomas Culpepper while she was Henry’s queen.  You can probably guess how that went for her, given Henry’s previous marital history.

The great thing about “The Queen’s Mistake” was the character of Catherine Howard.  Finally, a three-dimensional Catherine!  Yes, she was promiscuous as a girl, mostly out of boredom (and manipulation!  that was a very interesting plot point, but I won’t say more about that).  Yes, she was a bit naive.  But she wasn’t stupid.  She understood what the ramifications were of her sexuality and what would happen if she cheated on Henry.  She was not a slave to her sexuality either, as so many novelists have portrayed her, but was able to reason and to control her actions.  In a word, she was incredibly refreshing.

Not only did I enjoy Haeger’s Catherine, but I enjoyed her writing and the way she told her story, including some of the different interpretations of the actions of those around Catherine.  The first thing I did when I finished reading this was go to look to see what else Haeger has written.  I honestly cannot wait to read more of her work.

Definitely recommended for fans of historical fiction.

P.S. Come back tomorrow when I have a guest post by Diane AND a giveaway (US only, sorry).

Buy this book from:
Powells.
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.
Amazon.

Thank you to Kaitlyn from NAL, Penguin Group for sending me this book to review.

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