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The King's Rose Hardcover – March 19, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525479708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525479703
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—Beautiful Catherine Howard, 15, has attracted the attention of aging King Henry Tudor, who is becoming increasingly desperate for a son. His only son, Edward, is a sickly youngster, and Henry is worried about the succession. He has already rid himself of three wives and, now, he finds a way to dispense with his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, so he can marry Catherine. Catherine has been thrust before him by her powerful Howard relatives, and she knows that her role is to keep the king happy, but she has grown up in the morally lax household of her grandmother, the dowager Duchess of Norfolk, and she has secrets in her past that, if revealed, will ruin her. Told in Catherine's voice, the story gains real immediacy as she glories in the excitement and glamour of the court, but soon realizes that she is in great danger. Her love for young Thomas Culpepper overcomes her common sense, and their affair seals her doom. Period activities such as a bear-baiting contest are skillfully woven into the plot. The dowager Duchess and her accomplice, Lady Jane Rochford, are deliciously amoral in their relentless political scheming. One particularly effective scene has Catherine shocked at seeing a portrait of the youthful Henry and realizing how much he has deteriorated. While numerous sexual encounters are part of the political reality, they are subtly handled. A real treat for lovers of historical fiction.—Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Though well aware of her cousin Anne Boleyn’s fate only four years earlier, 15-year-old Catherine Howard acquiesces with her ambitious, conniving relatives’ plans and marries King Henry VIII. He calls her “my rose without a thorn,” but she is well aware of the thorny secrets she conceals: no virgin when she and the king married, she later begins a sexual liaison at court, partly in a desperate effort to produce an heir. Soon, Catherine begins a downward spiral toward madness and despair. An author’s note separates historical fact from conjecture in this account of Catherine’s short years as Henry’s “rose.” Libby offers a convincing, sympathetic portrayal of a young woman who relinquishes her hopes of marrying for love and finds herself doomed by her choices and deceptions. Hardly an active heroine, Catherine falls into a trap early on and, in the end, has little left but her dignity. This one’s for historical-fiction fans who will appreciate this character study of Henry’s fifth wife. Grades 8-11. --Carolyn Phelan

More About the Author

I grew up in Natick, Massachusetts, and during my teen years spent a lot of time hanging out at the mall, moping, and writing angst-ridden poetry, including a few epic poems about vampires falling in love. But who doesn't, right? Finally I went off to Emerson College to study writing: fewer malls, less moping, and I moved on to bitter love sonnets. Now I've written two books about historical "bad girls" - the bloody Countess Erzebet Bathory and the lustful Queen Catherine Howard. I'm fascinating by the "did she or didn't she?" mysteries surrounding historical characters. But that doesn't mean I won't go back to that vampire epic.

Customer Reviews

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Certainly this is a fictional account of Howard's story, but it is vividly told and beautifully written.
Melissa Owens
I highly recommend this book to readers who are fascinated by the Tudors as well as those who enjoy historical fiction in general.
Rebecca Herman
As I was reading it, though, Libby's interpretation of the events seemed very plausible and extremely entertaining.
Marty McNutt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Born into the ambitious Howard family, Catherine has never had much control over her life and fate. Her cousin, the infamous Anne Boleyn, lured King Henry VIII into marriage then met a grisly end. Hoping for a marriage that will benefit the family, Catherine's relatives send her to court in 1540, when she is fifteen. There, Catherine catches the eye of the king, who decides to divorce his current wife, Anne of Cleves, and marry her. Though Catherine would prefer to marry for love, one does not refuse the king, and even if she could, her family is determined to gain power through her marriage.

From the start, Catherine feels like she is living a lie, and playing a part to be the wife Henry desires. He wanted a pure, innocent maiden, and Catherine had a foolish and youthful love affair before coming to court, an event the king must never learn about. Woefully unprepared for the life she must live, Catherine struggles with her own immaturity and the conflicting desires of the king and her family, and is forced to make terrible choices that will lead to her doom.

The King's Rose is a wonderful historical novel for young adults - and adults as well - about the life of King Henry VIII's fifth and youngest wife, Catherine Howard. The author did a good job of bringing Catherine to life and making it understandable why she made the choices she did. Catherine is tragic figure - a young girl, unprepared for the life of a queen, forced into a terrible situation by her family in a time when a young woman had few choices and little right to control her own destiny. I highly recommend this book to readers who are fascinated by the Tudors as well as those who enjoy historical fiction in general.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Basbleu on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
From the slender threads of what is known about the historical Catherine Howard, Alisa M. Libby weaves a complex and beautiful tapestry of the life of an ordinary girl at the court of Henry VIII. In Catherine, Libby paints the portrait of a teenage girl whose family did not offer her enough guidance, leaving her to stumble into romantic and sexual entanglements at a young age. Once Catherine arrives at the court and attracts the king's eye, however, the powerful Howard family pushes Catherine's indiscretions into the background, making her appear a paragon of virtue. She marries Henry and quickly acquires a taste for luxury. Catherine tries to be a good and dutiful wife and queen, but Henry's age and ill health cannot satisfy her desire for true love. The king's appropriation of Catherine cut short a budding romance between her and her cousin Thomas Culpeper. Culpeper is one of the king's servants, and he and Catherine find themselves constantly thrown together, making it difficult for them to hide their feelings for each other. Meanwhile, childhood friends and an old flame appear at court, creating a licentious atmosphere and threatening Catherine's position and reputation. The only way Catherine and her family can hold onto power is for her to bear a child, but the king appears increasingly impotent. To produce the son Henry cannot provide, the Howard family and Catherine turn to Thomas Culpeper. Other powerful courtiers look to gain from the Howard family's fall, however, and someone reveals the truth to Henry. Depressed and enraged, the king banishes Catherine, who ends up in the Tower of London awaiting her death.
In The King's Rose, Alisa Libby does more than bring the glamorous but sordid Tudor court to life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby is the story of 15-year-old Catherine Howard and her marriage to King Henry VIII. It is historical fiction written for young adults. Romance is interlaced throughout. The intrigue, vivid description, and clarity of the narration should draw readers of any age.

As the story begins, Catherine is decided upon to be the next pawn for the Howard family to groom in hope of achieving a spot on the throne. Nothing is required of her except her youth, beauty and noble birth. No one asks her if it is what she wants. She is expected to sacrifice everything for the entire family. While Catherine is busy attaining this goal we are entertained by the jewels and gowns showered upon her. Yet the entire time it is constantly stressed what she must say, how she must look, how she must act in front of her king and of how important a goal it is for her to be queen.

The intense pressure to be something she is not and helplessness to go against her family's wishes along with her decent into madness were especially compelling elements of her story for me. The screaming of her handmaidens and the visual of a gaping black hole in the floor which she was being sucked into were quite compelling and stayed with me even though the last page was read. There was also a scene where she thought she saw a ghost but it was her own reflection in a mirror that I found well written.

The King's Rose was a terrific fast read. I can definitely give it my thumbs up. I recommend it for women mainly or anyone who wants to learn more about Catherine Howard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Owens on July 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well, I imagine that if you had any dreams of being the queen of England, you would likely reconsider them after reading this novel. Libby's breathtaking presentation of Catherine Howard's story certainly gives a revealing account of what it likely would have been like to be a young queen in Tudor England. There is nothing romantic about the life Catherine is forced to lead--she seemed to be merely a puppet of the rest of her family, a pawn in their plan to work the Howards back into the royal family.

Certainly this is a fictional account of Howard's story, but it is vividly told and beautifully written. And there are certain factual events and people that are included, showing that Libby obviously did her research. After the story, she has also included a helpful note about some of the true events depicted in her novel. It truly was a fascinating look into life in the royal court during Henry VIII's reign. It was a life I certainly would not have wanted to live. I appreciated the fact that Libby's account was more sympathetic with Catherine, though I don't imagine we will ever truly know what happened to cause her downfall. All I know is that it seems you could not trust anyone if you were Catherine, and that likely applied to all royalty. Throughout the story I found myself questioning various characters--lords, ladies, members of Catherine's court--and whether or not they could be trusted. Small actions and words frequently seemed suspicious and I felt sorry for the life poor Catherine Howard had to lead.

I would imagine fans of historical fiction and Tudor England would enjoy this book. Not surprisingly, there are many allusions to sex, but there is nothing very graphic.
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