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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir tells the tragic story of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, a 19-year-old beauty with a hidden past, in this fifth novel in the sweeping Six Tudor Queens series. 

In the spring of 1540, Henry VIII is desperate to be rid of his unappealing German queen, Anna of Kleve. A prematurely aged and ailing 49, with an ever-growing waistline, he casts an amorous eye on a pretty 19-year-old brunette, Katheryn Howard. Like her cousin Anne Boleyn, Katheryn is a niece of the Duke of Norfolk, England’s premier Catholic peer, who is scheming to replace Anna of Kleve with a good Catholic queen. A fun-loving, eager participant in the life of the royal court, Katheryn readily succumbs to the king’s attentions when she is intentionally pushed into his path by her ambitious family. 

Henry quickly becomes besotted and is soon laying siege to Katheryn’s virtue. But as instructed by her relations, she holds out for marriage and the wedding takes place a mere fortnight after the king’s union to Anna is annulled. Henry tells the world his new bride is a rose without a thorn, and extols her beauty and her virtue, while Katheryn delights in the pleasures of being queen and the rich gifts her adoring husband showers upon her: The gorgeous gowns, the exquisite jewels, and the darling lap-dogs. She comes to love the ailing, obese king, enduring his nightly embraces with fortitude and kindness. If she can bear him a son, her triumph will be complete. But Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing, and which comes back increasingly to haunt her - even as she courts danger yet again. What happens next to this naïve and much-wronged girl is one of the saddest chapters in English history.

©2020 Alison Weir (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Katheryn Howard, the Scandalous Queen

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Romance

Ok, this one is going back. I can’t, I just can’t. I guess I thought it was going to be. A historical/fiction, but it’s more like a gothic romance that portrays Kathryn as a dim-witted., love obsessed wanton women. I can’t, I just can’t. If you are a romance fan, this is perfect for you, otherwise, skip it. The narrator was fantastic.

23 people found this helpful

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Well Written But the Main Character is Flawed

Allison Weir has had a tough time because these queens are not always making bad choices. Stubborn (Catherine), Arrogant (Anne), Jane (Boring then died), Anne (best one took the divorce and ran) and now Katheryn. Poor dimwitted but pretty Katheryn falls in and out of love most likely because of some serious family issues.

She has no one to actually protect her and she makes some really REALLY poor choices which makes it hard because you just want to shake her. I think Allison Weir tries really hard to try and figure out the "why" but in this case I think this why is really just hard to swallow. At so many points she could have had her "happily ever after" but she sees something better and cuts off that "love" and moves to the next.

Then you get to the men and really they are probably dumber than her! I mean HELLO IDIOTS - if this was a work of fiction it would be unbelievable but sadly these idiots really drew breath. And when they got killed I had no remorse because their stupidity was only eclipsed by their arrogance.

And then her "friends" my goodness is hard to imagine that they helped as they did when many of them knew first hand of the consequences. I mean its not like he has not killed a good amount of their relatives - lets help commit treason (said no one with an IQ over 50). Which is why I think the book is well written but in the end they made me feel bad for Henry VIII which still shocks me.

I am very interested in Catherine Parr - probably the smartest of the bunch but also really bad at picking men. If you like the Tudors you will enjoy this but it is hard really to believe this many dumb people made it to the top of the food chain.

17 people found this helpful

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Alison Weir's Best

I've followed this series and read Weir's other fiction and nonfiction, but this book was easily the most engaging and addictive. I found it difficult to stop listening until the end. I also loved how believable it was to be in the moment with Katheryn and find even her most unfortunate choices understandable from her perspective.

A significant part of what makes it such a good book is how little of it Weir had to come up with on her own or overdramatize. Katheryn Howard has the most scandalous story of all the six queen consorts of Henry VIII. So it lends itself perfectly to a novel.

Another thing that helped bring this book to a higher level than the first three was how little Catherine Aragon and Anne Boleyn featured. Weir's bias in favor of Catherine and resulting hatred for Anne poisoned the first three queen's novels. Since Katheryn Howard had no direct contact with them, Weir was able to deliver a higher quality work, just as she did with Anna of Kleve.

Overall, this was a fantastic book!

14 people found this helpful

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It was okay

Alison Weir hit it out of the park with her first three books of this series. But unfortunately, it is starting to drag on. As much as I love her interpretation of history, and how she writes, I found myself bored during this story.

The narrator isn't my cup of tea. I found how much she fluctuated in volume irritating, her change of voice for men weird, and just didn't find it very engaging.

I hope Weir rallies for Katherine Parr, in spite of this okay, book, I still look forward to her finishing the series.

5 people found this helpful

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Poor Katheryn...

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This novel of Katheryn Howard is the fifth in Alison Weir's historical fiction narratives of "Six Tudor Queens." I respect this author as a careful historian who interprets this period authentically and engagingly, and I have enjoyed all of the books in this series with only one yet remaining.

Katheryn Howard is more difficult to pin down than Henry's other wives because she lived in relative obscurity during her childhood and adolescence, coming to the Tudor court at approximately 18 or 19. She was executed in her 21st year, giving historians relatively little concrete information to work with. It is generally accepted that she was stunningly beautiful and had great charm which attracted men very early in her life and during her short time in the limelight. Also most accounts verify that she was taken advantage of at an early age and compromised by older men in the household of her guardian, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. In spite of these youthful sexual encounters, Katheryn appeared fresh and innocent when she served in Court as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anna of Cleves, totally fascinating the aging, ill, and obese King Henry.

Henry annulled his unsatisfactory marriage with Queen Anna and soon made young Katheryn his fifth consort. The king and Katheryn herself were manipulated by her powerful uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who sought to advance his own fortune as well as the Howard family through this influential marriage. By all accounts, Henry was besotted with his young wife who reveled in the wealth and splendor of her powerful position. But unfortunately she was attracted strongly to Thomas Culpepper, a gentleman of Henry's court and a trusted confidant of the king. An inappropriate and fatal liaison between these two young people developed--one which could not end well. It did not, and soon they were charged with treason and both were executed. This much is documented by history, but a fiction writer must provide more in order to bring these characters to life for the reader.

In the case of Katheryn, Alison Weir appears to have allowed herself more license than usual. The reader is witness to more detailed sexual activity than in her past books of this series. She fails to draw any curtain of privacy over these scenes but instead describes Katheryn's intimate trysts vividly. Sections of this novel read more like a bodice-ripping romance than a serious fictionalized history of this unlucky young woman. Very little is left to the reader's imagination, although none of the salacious descriptions can be verified with documentation. In books with fictional characters, this is more appropriate, but for historical characters, I prefer a bit less license with what is actually known. The resulting more literally accurate novel would have been much shorter, however, and readers expect more density from this author. Weir worked with what she had, but perhaps went too far afield into the fanciful.

This author does her research; she is an expert on the Tudor period and its extraordinary characters. I can believe she portrayed Katheryn Howard's essence accurately, showing an unfortunate young woman who desperately needed male affirmation and acted impulsively and unwisely to gain it. She was often kind and considerate to her family and those who served her. She was young, inexperienced, and totally out of her depth at the Tudor Court. Her end was tragic.

Alison Weir provides clarifying information and explanations in the Author's Note at the end of this novel. I appreciate this. She discusses her sources and the choices she made in relating this fictional account of Henry's "scandalous queen." As with all of the books I have read by this author, I found the experience enjoyable and finished with a better understanding of this time and period.

Poor Katheryn. The men in her brief life so seldom acted in her interest.

4 people found this helpful

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Worth The Wait

Excellent book. Alison Weir does not disappoint. Hopefully she’ll finish out the series soon with a book on Catherine Par.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved It!

I’m a fan of Alison Weir’s books and have enjoyed this series about King Henry VIII’s wives from their viewpoints. Katheryn Howard didn’t disappoint. I’d wondered how this young queen would be portrayed. After hearing her story, I had more sympathy for her as usually she is portrayed as a Tudor party girl. Instead, we discover simply a young girl who was without parents for much of her young life and made some regrettable decisions in her search for security and love. A combination of her own desire for fame and fortune and the manipulation of her family sealed her fate.

I’m already looking forward to the final book in the series!

4 people found this helpful

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If you like Danielle Steele...

You will love this story. Katherine Howard was certainly scandalous! Story fits in with rest of series but reminds me of a Harlaquin romance novel!

2 people found this helpful

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Alison Weir is Amazing

Anyone who has the least bit of interest in Henry VIII and his wives should absolutely adore all of Weir's novels (and non fiction!). The story of Katheryn Howard, 'The Scandalous Queen' is told in bold prose with beautiful narration, and listening to the novel brought me right back to the tumultuous times of King Henry, the reformation of the Church, and his miserable life of finding a wife to bear him a son. The isn't much information on Katheryn Howard, but the way Weir presents her history and circumstances is fascinating.

Five Big Stars Always for Weir

-Wendi

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent Book and Narrator

I loved this Audible book. The narrator was excellent, successfully using different voices for each of the characters. I enjoy anything I can get my hands on regarding Tudor England, and Alison Weir never disappoints.

2 people found this helpful