Review Blog

Oct 01 2015

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

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Simon & Schuster, 2015. ISBN 9781471132988
(Age: Adult) Recommended. Philippa Gregory's love of history underpins The Taming of the Queen. Kateryn Parr was the last of King Henry VIII's six wives: portrayed in this narrative as passionate, intelligent, devout and independent, she was once named Regent during King Henry's absence in France. Philippa Gregory's gripping perspective honours Kateryn's importance as a reformer, and vividly suggests the minutia of her daily life at court, once she accepted King Henry VIII's command that she marry him.
This intimate portrait of Kateryn's life as wife to the King of England examines the bond that developed between them, and how she brought together a family that would see Henry reunited with his children. During her marriage to King Henry, Kateryn simultaneously immersed herself in her study, writing and reformation activities. However, in the darker, final days of Henry's life, the focus of this novel shifts to the ever-growing dangers faced by Kateryn as he turned his dangerous attention upon her, and her reformation work. Although The Taming of the Queen is a work of historical fiction, Gregory has created a believable interpretation of the inner workings of this royal marriage; of Henry's court with all its loyalties, rivalries and scheming; of naval battles, and the intrigues of Kateryn's relationship with Thomas Seymour.
In her concluding summary, this accomplished author comments that the days surrounding Kateryn's arrival at court were 'alive with debate about the Bible: English or Latin, about the Mass: bread or flesh, about the Church: reformist or papist.' Recognising her as the first woman to publish in English using her own name, Philippa Gregory's narrative pays homage to this woman 'who dared to write original material in English.' Kateryn published three books that still survive today. The Taming of the Queen is an entertaining and historically exciting perspective on this protestant woman's life. It is recommended for adults interested in this period of Tudor history.
Colleen Tuovinen

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