A Queen’s Gambit

A vivid account of life at Henry V111’s court with religious reformers pitted against the old religious stalwarts. Katherine Parr portrayed as a clever and discreet woman who survived through turbulent times but when personal happiness within her grasp loses her life in a tragic way. 8/10

I found the life of Katherine Parr and the insight into the life at the court of Henry V111 really interesting. An excellent read, apart from some of the modern expressions. 8/10

A very interesting and vivid account of life at Henry V111’s court and the pitfalls of catching the ‘eye of the king’. Katherine Parr, as Queen, managed to ‘keep her head’ through common sense, wit, healing Henry’s illnesses and subterfuge. She had to forsake her own happiness to please Henry. The descriptions of court life seem so realistic that the reader feels as if they are living in that era. According to the author Katherine was a good step mother to Henry’s three children by previous wives. After Henry’s death Katherine let her heart rule her head and fell in love and married Thomas Seymour who only had his own ambitions and interests at heart. Katherine sadly died of puerperal fever after childbirth. Her legacy was to help bring about religious reform and help bring The Bible to rich and poor alike. 8/10


This book was the story of Katherine Parr, the sixth and the only wife of Henry VIII to become Queen Dowager, by surviving as his Queen to his death. It was written in the voices of Katherine, her maid, Dot, and the physician, Doctor Huicke, who were all historical figures. The time span was from the last days of Katherine’s previous husband to her own death from “childbed fever” after the birth of her only child, less than two years after Henry

In the words of one of our members it was: “a mixture of Barbara Cartland and history lecture with disturbing 20th century phraseology”. Needless to say, we didn’t all agree with this, although it was quite easy to read, it did have some words and phrases that would not have been used in the 16th century and the historical background was well researched!

Our discussion ranged over a large range of subjects, including Tudor costume, medicine, politics, social status, the legal system and the sweeping changes in religion that people were experiencing at the time.

On the whole, we enjoyed the book (despite the complaint of its weight as a bedtime read!) and it certainly led to one of the most broad discussions on its characters and background that we have had. My daughter, Hannah, who was staying at the time and joined us for the meeting, read it in 24 hours and ordered the second volume in what will become a trilogy!

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