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The Last Wife of Henry VIII

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  9,230 ratings  ·  375 reviews
Courageous, attractive, romantic, intelligent, Catherine Parr became the sixth wife of Henry VIII. Her story, as Carolly Erickson re-creates it, is page-turning drama: from the splendors of the Field of the Cloth of Gold to the gory last years of the outsize King Henry, when heads rolled and England trembled, Catherine bestrode her destiny and survived to marry her true lo ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by St. Martin's Press (first published October 3rd 1980)
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Community Reviews

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Will I ever grow tired of hearing about pimptastic Henry and his poor wives? Doubtful. This book was fascinating because it spanned the history of them all and, through the eyes of his last wife Katharine Parr who survived Henry and knew him from the time she was a child, showed a really interesting character portrait of him across his lifetime as king. Particularly in his end years when he was obese, ill, paranoid, cruel, and impotent (yet still, as always, magically expecting a son), he is mor ...more
Jul 10, 2008 Gracee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not many
This book is ROYALLY irritating. Carolly Erickson is a "distinguised historian turned popular novelist" - I would have hoped the simple task of getting the right order and personage of Catherine Parr's multiple marriages could have been achieved. The lack of getting even these basic facts straight really bothered me in the beginning of the book. However, trying to keep in mind that it is simply a work of fiction helped me read through it for the most part. The truth could have been stranger, and ...more
This is one of my favorite Carolly Erickson books. Although like all of her works, she took many historical liberties to enrich the story; it worked. The novel is rich with imagery, emotional context, and personifications.

Yes, some of the timelines and facts are a bit off and the readers whom read history book on the Tudor times will notice these instantly but hey, so did "The Tudors" on TV and you still watched that! In fact, this books reads sort of like an over-dramatic episode of The Tudors
It seems lately that respected historians, previously noted for their excellent non-fictional accounts of various important figures, have taken to writing historical fiction about these same subjects.

I've read many books by Erickson about The Tudors. She also wrote an excellent accounting of the life of Marie Antoinette; "To The Scaffold".

Now, she's turned to historical fiction and, although the work was relatively engaging and I made my way through it quickly, it simply was not as enjoyable to
This book was absolute rubbish. I found myself tutting out loud whenever I came across a historical inaccuracy (which was depressingly often) and I actually threw the book across the room when I read that Catherine was sleeping with Thomas Seymour whilst married to the King. WTF. ?!?!?!?!?! WHY would she do that? Didn't she JUST warn Katherine Howard a couple of chapters ago that she was an utter idiot for sleeping with someone when married to Henry?!?!

I skimmed the last 3 or 4 chapters of this
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Catherine Parr's mother is a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. Her life intersects with Henry's in various ways like this through the years. She loves, marries, mourns, and just generally lives her life until Henry beheads wife number five, Catherine Howard. It isn't long before Henry's avaricious gaze falls on her as wife number six.

I think I was expecting something a little meatier. There is so much drama in that whole period, juicy material shouldn't be hard to
The Book Maven
Holy crap, thus far I am completely unimpressed with this book. My first and actually, only beef with it is that it is historically inaccurate. It portrays Catharine as a teenage girl who marries a young man after she begs the king to intercede and prevent her family from marrying her to the young man's grandfather. Um, that is TOTAL POPPYCOCK. In real life, Parr's first husband was, in fact, a very elderly man, the grandfather that she does not marry in the book. Why would the author deviate so ...more
Merry Bones
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I generally love anything to do with the Tudors, and I enjoyed the author's book, The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, so I had some reasonable hopes for this one. Much as I tried, though, I couldn't get into it. I would read, and read, and read, come up for air and find I had only managed to read a few pages when it felt as if I had been reading forever. There were times when it showed promise and I felt a little more engaged. I think my problem with i ...more
Angela Joyce
I do not wish to be venomous, so I will say that this book is... fanciful. It is fanciful like a romance novel (oops, for me to say that is venomous).

Next time I take a work of "historical fiction" from a shelf, I will first check for a bibliography. If it has none, it goes back on the shelf.

Mary Boleyn had a half-wit son by Henry VIII? It was Thomas Seymour who committed the crime that Thomas Culpepper was accused of? People were drinking tea in England that year? Lady Rochford flashed the cr
I guess I did things a little backward and got into the work of Phillipa Gregory after I discovered Carolly Erickson. "The Last Wife of Henry VIII: a novel" follows Katherine Parr, who is pursued by the king following his dispatch of Catherine Howard. As a member of the court, Katherine has witnessed first-hand the demise of his past wives and determines to avoid marriage to the King. Finally, forced into acceding to his wishes, she is able to garner a writ from Henry, which does not allow her t ...more
Good for a trip. Easy and forgettable.
Jun 20, 2014 Etcetorize rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tudor Fans
Of all of Henry's wives, Catherine Parr is the one I know the least about. I always figured she just sort of kept him busy in his final years and led a fairly uneventful life with him.

According to this book though her life was nothing but one drama after another. I know there are a lot of comments here about how inaccurate the historical details are of this book so it's hard for me to know now, just how eventful was Catherine Parr's life?

Just as a fictional story on it own, this is a fun a read.
Sep 19, 2013 Ashley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
It is really tough to go wrong with historical fiction, and this author delivers. I had never read about this time and place before, and I found myself googling to distinguish fact from fiction on this one. This is a good, light book to read on vacation or when work is just too much. It will take you to another world.
Overall, I enjoyed this, though it took me a chapter or so to get into. I read what I can about Catherine Parr, as she has the dubious distinction of being the only of Henry VIII's wives to survive marriage to him -- unless we count Anne of Cleves, who got a generous divorce settlement and kept her head.

I've read a couple other novels of Catherine Parr, and really liked Erickson's take on her in this one as a woman who was much more fully in charge of her life. Yes, she is clearly taken advanta
I had higher expectations for this one. Rather than staying up past bedtime to read "one more chapter", I found myself staying up past bedtime just to be done with it. The book relies very heavily on the fact that we all know history (which we do), that we are well versed especially in Tudor history (and we are), and that we are already "fans" of this particular subject (and that is also true). The problem for me is that the book does nothing for me as a stand-alone novel and so it seems less of ...more
I enjoyed it. I'd call it a light historical romance. I would have preferred it if the author (who does it seems have a scholarly background), provided an addendum or similar where she explained the choices she made versus the actual history known. That might have helped me understand the historical inaccuracies and omissions rather than assume incompetence. Towards the end I felt that the main character's romanticism/naïveté was annoying and would have thought the actual historical figure would ...more
Two stars is the result of a cheesy storyline coupled with an irritating narration. It's only redeeming point was it's brevity. Not recommended.
Anna Tomasso
Henry VIII is one of my favourite historical figures, love to read stories about his life
I have read many books on the Elizabethan Era, which means I have read many books about Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII and all his wives and mistresses as well as some of the other players of that time frame. This is the book that I believe gives the best picture of what Catherine Parr's life was like. So many events were crammed into her 36 years and with so few people she could really trust! We still have a way to go with women's rights but what women went through at that time in history is tru ...more
Too much fiction, not enough historical.
From the very first the book is chronologically inaccurate, and just got more and more unbelievable as it goes along (like her committing adultery with Thomas while being married to the king, and after having witnessed Catherine Howard's beheading)until the last thirty last pages of the novel were just ridiculous. I thought having read one bad book of hers was a real disappointment considering Erickson's ealier works, ut unfortunately it has become a trend
I really really liked this book. I don't read historical fictions that often and I'm very picky about what part of history I enjoy reading about. I love reading about the wives of Henry VIII and I think his last wife Catherine Parr was one of the most interesting.
A lot of people seemed to have issues with this book because it wasn't completely historically accurate, but if it was, wouldn't it just be a non-fiction. I understand the frustration with reading something where they get the facts wron
Mardel Fehrenbach
Enjoyable story. It is fiction, not history, and I don't for the most part have trouble with the fudging of fact in the interest of the story, although there were time when this was annoying. As to whether she married Edward Borough the younger or his grandfather, I seem to recall that recent scholarship may indicate that she did indeed marry the younger man, and Erickson makes the story work around this tidbit, in a way that is in fact plausible, whether or not it is how things happened in actu ...more
Carolly Erickson's book is one that I wouldn't put on my list of all-time favorite historical fiction novels. I think part of the problem is how misleading the title seems to me. Yes, I recognize that Katharine Parr, the main character of her novel, was the last wife of Henry VIII. However, I expected this to focus mainly on that portion of Parr's life.

I thought it would be interesting to get to see the wives of Henry VIII through the eyes of his last queen given that she was, well, the last on
Oct 16, 2009 Sheree rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Tudor fiction
This was a quick, entertaining read following the dramatic life of Catherine Parr from childhood to her death. Told from Catherine's point of view it spans the history of all King Henry's wives giving the reader a brief overview of much of Henry's life as king & the ill-fated outcomes of each of his marriages. Cat is familiar with the workings of King Henry's court from a young age, her mother being Catherine of Aragon's lady-in-waiting. She finds favour with the King over her lifetime not o ...more
Katherine (or Catherine) Parr has always been a favorite subject. It was Jean Plaidy's "The Sixth Wife" that turned me on to Tudor history decades ago. But while I enjoyed the story in Erickson's book, I was disappointed that someone with her historian's credentials would play so fast and loose with the facts. It's ridiculous to think Henry had been trying to seduce Catherine for all those years. Everything I've read says Catherine's first husband was in fact the very elderly Lord Burgh, not his ...more
Patty Mora
This is the first book that I have read by this author, Carolly Erickson. At first it was difficult for me to "get into" the story of Catherine Parr, but I am glad I stuck to it and read it all. It did not disappoint.

Erickson, unlike other Tudor-era authors I have read, really develops the character of Henry VIII. He is not a supporting actor with a few speaking parts, but he plays a major role in this book: I can actually see him, hear him, feel him, and smell his presence.

This book reads lik
I am a sucker for all things Tudor, and Erickson's portrayal of Henry VIII's last wife, Catherine Parr, was an entertaining read. It wasn't entirely profound, but still gave some insight into the wife who survived the merciless monarch. The book follows Cat through her first encounters with Henry as a child, through four marriages, and the numerous scandals that come with life at court. Henry is painted as a rough, but sympathetic ruler who wants nothing more than someone to confide in. Cat voic ...more
Dec 27, 2010 Jodi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
This period of English history absolutely fascinates me and this is the first book I have read about Catherine Parr. How odd to be a little girl learning about the king marrying his first wife and then actually becoming his wife in her late twenties. Was she really as bold as she is made to appear in this book? I don't know but I doubt whether she would have talked back to King Henry as boldly as she did in the book - I liked her spunk but don't know if it is accurate in the book.

Also, I didn't
For some inexplicable reason I am a sucker for just about anything having to do with the Tudors, and the only reason I read this book was because I was going through withdrawal having seen the final episode of Showtime's cheesy series in which the main characters spent as much time stepping out of their elaborate 16th century costumes in order to hop into bed with one another as they did wearing them. Nevertheless, the series rekindled my love of all things Tudor and so I ended up wandering acro ...more
I picked up Erickon’s The Last Wife of Henry VIII because Barnes and Noble had yet to receive that newest issue of Fangoria Magazine and I did not want to go home. I found myself at a shelf of historical fiction about the wives of kings, a simple endcap with about six books on it. I chose Erickson’s after reading the backs of a few-- I went for Erickson because she had a background in history, which I felt the book would benefit from.

The Last Wife of Henry VIII is about Catherine Parr, the wife
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 05, 2015 10:13AM  
  • Brief Gaudy Hour: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
  • Plain Jane
  • Mademoiselle Boleyn
  • The Secret Bride (In The Court of Henry VIII, #1)
  • The Last Boleyn
  • The Virgin Queen's Daughter
  • Katharine of Aragon: The Wives of Henry VIII (Tudor Saga, #2-4)
  • The Concubine
  • I, Elizabeth
  • The Last Queen
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • The King's Daughter. A Novel of the First Tudor Queen (Rose of York)
Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.
More about Carolly Erickson...
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette Bloody Mary: The Life of Mary Tudor Rival to the Queen The Tsarina's Daughter The First Elizabeth

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