The Taming of the Queen is about the life of Kateryn Parr, the sixth and final Queen of King Henry VIII.
Told in the first person by Kateryn (the story begins in 1543 with a widowed Kateryn soon to become Queen), the reader is swept away to the court of King Henry VIII in the expert hands of historian and author Philippa Gregory.
Technically the 7th in the Tudor Court series, The Taming of the Queen can easily be read as a standalone as Gregory uses her expertise to ensure you never lose track of the characters; something other authors of the genre often fail to do.
Religion was the driving force at the time as King Henry's support for the Papists and the Reformers continues to waver back and forth, leaving the people of England unsure where the King's faith truly lays. This creates a dangerous and deadly environment at court, and Kateryn does her best to steer clear of any trouble.
Kateryn is painfully aware of the ghosts of Henry's previous wives (the King has buried four wives after all) and does an incredible job of staying alive; desperate to learn from the mistakes of the queens before her and living with constant fear and uncertainty.
The Taming of the Queen offers a magnificent portrait of Henry VIII at the latter stages of his life, suffering from ill health and some say paranoia. Kateryn brings the young royal children to court, (Prince Edward, Mary I, Elizabeth I) and she really brings the family together in a royal first. We see her influence on young Mary and Elizabeth, and knowing what will happen later on in their adulthood gives this period more meaning.
|This image of Princess Diana at Princess Charlotte's |
christening, is similar to the family portrait
commissioned by King Henry VIII where he
ordered that Kateryn Parr be replaced by the
image of his late wife, Jane Seymour
Then I remembered that I had seen this recently, in a photograph of the late Princess Diana looking at Princess Charlotte on the day of her christening. This image was photoshopped but I found it really moving, and perhaps King Henry was chasing or seeking this same sentiment in 1545.
I had at least two Henry VIII inspired dreams while reading The Taming of the Queen and am still thinking about it weeks after I finished reading the final pages.
The Taming of the Queen is expertly written and easily one of my favourite books of the year.
My rating = *****