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The Confession of Katherine Howard Paperback – April 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
A historically obscure lady-in-waiting provides a window into the rise and fall of Henry VIII's young fifth queen in the competent latest from Dunn (The Sixth Wife). The teenage Cat Tilney is raised in the company of the attractive and sexually precocious Katherine Howard in the household of a distant relation, the well-connected dowager duchess of Norfolk. Cat becomes Katherine's confidante and eventually follows her to court when she is made queen, and, as one of the few privy to the queen's secret affairs, Cat lands in a dangerous position when Katherine's romantic history becomes known and a ruthless investigation spreads to include Cat's own lover, Francis Dereham. Working from only a few references in the surviving records of the investigation, Dunn constructs the tale of a teenage girl in thrall to a more charismatic friend and the test of her loyalty. Though Dunn's modernization of the language can result in anachronistic turns of phrase, this is a convincing portrayal of young women made pawns in the dangerous politics of the Tudor court. (Apr.)
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'Dunn gives the story a vivid, contemporary feel, and Katherine's conversations with her closest friend, Cathryn Tilney, are gossipy and intimate, full of sly innuendo and confidences.' Marie Claire 'Those who have fallen in love with the drama of the Tudor period will devour the Confession of Katherine Howard...an insightful foray into the life of one of Henry VIII's most misunderstood yet fascinating wives.' Scottish Sunday Herald 'Gripping, a pageturner, a thriller ... Dunn's book has an incisive insight into how manipulative people work.' Dublin Evening Herald --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The writing is so dull that I actually lost concentration many times. The author is trying hard to be the new Philipa Gregory but the dialogue and characterization is poor.
In fact I never liked Philipa Gregory's hatchet job on Anne Boleyn, I like Dunn's hatchet job on Katherine Howard even less.
I personally believe that Katherine Howard, while indeed was a sexually promiscuous girl and perhaps simple , had a loving heart which was why she loved more than one man . But she was NOT the pathologically selfish schemer that Dunn paints her as and various other books and films have done.
At any rate its time we dropped the portrayal of sexually adventurous girls as being wicked and deserving a nasty fate while men who do the same are seen as much admired and many rakes. It should have no place any-more , though it seems to be being imported back into Britain by Islam. Now the best novels about Katherine Howard is Murder Most Royal: The Story of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard and The Rose Without a Thorn: The Wives of Henry VIIIby Jean Plaidy. Read that instead.
But the problem with this book, which combines the final days of Katherine's position as Henry VIII's fifth wife with flashbacks of her upbringing, is that it's told from the point of view of Catheryn Tilney (a real life member of Katherine's household) although the depth of friendship and Catheryn's relationship with Dereham is Dunn's own creation. And, as if to emphasise the shift away from seeing Katherine as a silly little girl, here Dunn makes Tilney so desperately dull and naïve that the bulk of the book, instead of being about Katherine, is a poor romance of Tilney's sexual naïvity and her wondering about sex.
Given that what we know about Katherine is so richly lurid (her relationships with music teacher Manox and Dereham prior to her wedding and then, while married, with Culpeper) due to the investigation that took place, it's a heck of an achievement to make this such a dull read. Perhaps there is just too much known about this aspect of her life (but little else of it) to excite Dunn's imaginative juices. So she concentrates on her fictionally enhanced Tilney - who is a crashing bore and a drip of the highest order.
Dunn invents a friendship that is unbelievable because she paints the two girls as so different - Tilney is bemused how people manage to breath while kissing while Katherine (or Kate as she's known) is spouting wisdom on contraception apparently picked up from her older half sister Isabel Leigh, telling Tilney at one point "well anyway, Izzy says it's either the lemon or you let them do it up your backside".
I didn't find either brought the characters to life. I was expecting historical fiction - what I got was historical romance - with not that much about the person in the title. I'm sure there's a market for that - I'm just not it. It's a bit of a lemon - which in the context is not a nice thought...