From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Although often depicted by the Victorians as a matronly nurse to an elderly king, Katherine Parr (1512–1548), according to Porter, was a stylish trendsetter of 30, sensual, confident, dynamic, exceptionally educated and cultured, and able to perform with aplomb on both an English and international stage. Born into a prominent, northern family of Yorkist sympathies, Katherine was widowed twice before marrying Henry VIII: a brief first marriage thrust her into a troubled family; her second husband, John Neville, Lord Latimer, put his life and fortune at risk when he became embroiled on the side of the rebels in the 1536 northern uprising, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Probably already in love with seasoned diplomat and soldier Sir Thomas Seymour, the king's brother-in-law, when she married Henry, the pragmatic Katherine embraced her royal role with enthusiasm. British historian Porter (The Myth of "Bloody Mary") claims Elizabeth I's education, religious beliefs, and consciousness of personal image owed much to her loving stepmother. Rich, perceptive, nuanced and creative, this first full-scale biography gives one of Britain's best but least-known queens her due. 16 pages of color illus. (Dec.) (c)
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Published almost simultaneously with a biography of Henry VIII’s first queen (Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII) comes this one on his last. Katherine Parr had already been wed and widowed twice when Henry asked her to be his wife. Although she was in love with another man, the swashbuckling Thomas Seymour, she agreed to marry the king because she thought it was “God’s will.” Her new position enabled her to develop close relationships with the king’s children, and she was a role model for Elizabeth, in particular. It also enabled her to promote the cause of religious reform and even undertake several literary projects. Her intellectual pursuits may have been part of what got her into hot water with the king, who was disappointed (again) by the lack of a son and in any case was quickly bored by wives. Not long after Henry’s death in 1547 Katherine raised eyebrows by marrying Thomas Seymour, and in 1548 she herself died after giving birth. This readable study fills another hole on the growing Tudor bookshelf. --Mary Ellen Quinn