Title: Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife
Series: Six Tudor Queens #6
Author: Alison Weir
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: May 11th, 2021 (Ballantine Books)
Synopsis: Two husbands dead; a life marred by sadness. And now Katharine is in love for the first time in her life.
The eye of an ageing and dangerous king falls upon her. She cannot refuse him. She must stifle her feelings and never betray that she wanted another.
And now she is the sixth wife. Her queenship is a holy mission yet, fearfully, she dreams of the tragic parade of women who went before her. She cherishes the secret beliefs that could send her to the fire. And still the King loves and trusts her.
Now her enemies are closing in. She must fight for her very life.
KATHARINE PARR – the last of Henry’s queens.
Alison Weir recounts the extraordinary story of a woman forced into a perilous situation and rising heroically to the challenge. Katharine is a delightful woman, a warm and kindly heroine – and yet she will be betrayed by those she loves and trusts most.
Too late, the truth will dawn on her.
Katharine Parr has lost two husbands, and for the first time, is in love. But no sooner than she and Sir Thomas Seymour make plans to wed, it becomes clear that King Henry is determined to win her hand. One does not refuse a King, and so Katharine has no choice but to become his sixth Queen. She is already in a precarious position, as illustrated by the five women before her, but her views on religious reform make it even more dangerous. The Tudor court is much the same as ever though, and her enemies are waiting for her to make a misstep.
I’ve been a huge fan of Alison Weir’s works for several years, and every successive installment in this series has been one I look forward reading each year ever since it first began, as the Tudor era is one I am quite obsessed with when it comes to historical fiction. Unlike some of the other books in this series, Katharine Parr’s story is one I am more familiar with. However, since most books about Katharine begin at or very shortly before her marriage to Henry, there was still so much new information to discover here. This book depicted much of her childhood, which I haven’t seen in other books about her, and also her first two marriages in much detail. Katharine Parr is probably my favourite of the six queens, because, as this book portrays, there was so much more to her than being the one who survived being married to Henry. She was a well-educated, intelligent woman, and the arc of how she came to appreciate religious reform was handled in a manner that was easy to understand without being overwhelming which I really appreciated as I have found it to be an issue in a few other books about her.
The first half of the book moved rather slowly in my opinion, even though much of the content was new to me. Katharine spends most of the time away from court where all the excitement, so to speak, is. Having seen these events through the first five books, where each queen was right in the thick of things, it was odd to hear of it as Katharine did, through letters and word of mouth, as few of these happenings had any direct effect on her life at all. The story thus initially spends a lot of time on her day to day life, which has its interesting parts, but was boring at times. The narrative really picks up following that however, and becomes much more engaging as we follow Katharine through her time as Queen of England, handling the aging, volatile Henry and building a beautiful bond with her new stepchildren and into her fourth and final marriage. I always found it unfortunate that after three marriages of duty, Katharine finally found a little happiness with someone she chose only for it to be so short lived.
I’m quite sad that this series is over, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Alison Weir writes next as I have no doubt I will be reading it no matter what. Katharine Parr: The Sixth Wife was a wonderful final installment to an amazing series. These books are so well researched and the stories of these Queens so beautifully depicted, they make for a thoroughly enjoyable read. I would highly recommend this series for all historical fiction fans, and in particular, those interested in the Tudor era.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: