17 June 2021

Review: Katharine Parr - The Sixth Wife (Six Tudor Queens VI) by Alison Weir

Katharine Parr - The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir book cover

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

The Six Tudor Queens series by Alison Weir has finally come to an end with the release of Katharine Parr - The Sixth Wife. I've been following this historical fiction series since book two (Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession) and they've all been 5 star reading experiences.

Each book is about the life of the queen in the title, and I was looking forward to Weir's representation of twice widowed Katharine Parr. The novel starts in 1517 when Katharine is just 5 years of age, and the excellent writing, research and storytelling in evidence throughout the series is definitely on show here. These historical figures are expertly brought to life, and I don't recall where I first heard it (it could have been from one of many Tudor inspired documentaries, movies, TV shows or books) but I enjoyed seeing this quote from King Henry VIII in the book:
"He has no idea what I really think of him. That's my method, Kate. Play off one against the other. Divide and rule, and keep your hand close. Believe me, if I thought my cap knew what I was thinking, I would throw it in the fire!" Page 346
I enjoyed learning more about Katharine Parr, especially since the novel covers many of the same events as The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory. Another favourite historical fiction author, In The Taming of the Queen, Gregory tells Kateryn (note different spelling) Parr's story in the first person. The fact that I read it when it was released back in 2015 provided enough distance to appreciate the similarities but also space to notice the differences between the two books. The painting that featured so prominently in Philippa Gregory's novel doesn't take up much time in this story and I can't help feeling a little disappointed by that; given how much I adore the portrait and the story behind it.

The slightly different take on Katharine's religious leanings, her achievement in bringing King Henry VIII's children Prince Edward, Mary and Elizabeth to court and convincing the King to change the Act of Succession made for fascinating reading. The deplorable behaviour by Prince Edward's uncle after the death of Henry VIII was just as frustrating to read here as it must have been to endure, but I could relate to Katharine's internal struggle about whether to fight the fact that the King wanted her to be Regent or let it go and focus on her own happiness instead.

Reading Katharine Parr - The Sixth Wife was a refresher on the scandals of the Tudor court, the political influences and of course the Reformation and changes in religious doctrine at the time. Weir takes us right up to Katharine Parr's death in 1548 from childbed fever at Sudely Castle. She was only 38 at the time of her death, and passed away just 1 year and 8 months after Henry VIII.

As with the rest of the series, the passing of the main character at the end of the book was a very moving scene. I found myself doing a lot of Googling after the last page to remind myself how things ended for the other characters and to get a better sense of Sudeley Castle. It's an amazing castle and I'd love to visit there one day, but it was a shock to find out that historians disagree about what eventually became of Katharine's daughter with Thomas Seymour.

Katharine Parr - The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir can easily be read as a stand alone and is recommended for historical fiction fans with an interest in the Tudor period. I'm sorry to have reached the end of this magnificent series, and the only thing left for me to do now is go back and read the first book, Katherine of Arag√≥n: The True Queen.

Please enjoy my reviews of the previous novels in the Six Tudor Queens series by Alison Weir below:
Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession (Book II)
Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen (Book III)
Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets (Book IV)
Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Wife (Book V)

You can seize this book at Booktopia.


My Rating:


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  1. Have now ordered this one from the library. Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Awesome, that's so great to hear Carole and I hope you love it!

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Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!