‘Queen’s Gambit’ will leave female readers musing10/16/2013
Courtesy of Beaverdale Books
Review by Cathryn Lang
Simon and Schuster
Good historical fiction is difficult to write. The author must retell history and immerse the reader so completely in the character’s viewpoint that (already) known facts are forgotten. The reader becomes caught up in the story-telling and reads with the thought, “What will happen next?”
If you were caught up in the mini-series “The Tudors” and are a fan of Philippa Gregory and/or Hilary Mantel, then this will feed your passion. Katherine’s life is told from both her perspective and that of her beloved handmaiden, Dot, who represents the earthy, everywoman voice of reason. Katherine Parr was the charismatic sixth and final wife of Henry VIII. Twice widowed at 31, she catches Henry’s eye. Though infatuated with Thomas Seymour, the playboy of the Tudor court, she must put him aside when Henry chooses to make her the next Mrs. Tudor.
Katherine knows she truly has no choice in the matter and is sophisticated and intelligent enough to survive the political back-stabbing in a court that makes Washington, D.C., look like a kindergarten society. She is a very intelligent and literate woman who has opinions on her Protestant religious beliefs that she must keep under wraps while maneuvering the cutthroat court around her. Her love for Henry’s three children, the products of his other unfortunate wives — all pawns of political power — is endearing as she tries to create a real family for them.
Wealthy or not, life was a matter of endurance in the Middle Ages. Katherine survived better than most, and we are left with admiration for her, a woman ahead of her time. CV
Cathryn Lang is a retired literacy leader for elementary schools. She now has time to also read adult books!