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The Unfaithful Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Fifth Wife
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The Unfaithful Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Fifth Wife

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  622 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Amid the turbulent, faction-ridden late reign of the fearsome Henry, eager high-spirited Catherine Howard caught the king's eye—but not before she had been the sensual plaything of at least three other men. Ignorant of her past, seeing only her youthful exuberance and believing that she could make him happy, he married her—only to discover, too late, that her heart belonge ...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Whether one believes Catherine Howard was an innocent child begging for love or instead a slut who deserved her fate; her story as the “rose without a thorn” turned executed wife is well-known. Carolly Erickson explores Henry VIII’s fifth wife in her historical entertainment, “The Unfaithful Queen”.

“The Unfaithful Queen” begins with Erickson attempting to immediately shock readers by describing Anne Boleyn’s execution, a lemon in a “honeypot”, and a self-induced abortion just to name a few even
Monica Williams
Like the other works in his Erickson's "entertainments" this one is fun, fast paced read. Fans of Tudor fiction know how Catherine Howard's story ends. A young girl married to an old, cranky, and ill man is never going to end well. And when the old, cranky, man is the King Henry VIII, it will end very badly if he finds he has been betrayed. Interestingly this book portrays Anne of Cleves as much nastier than she's ever been portrayed. Its an interesting twist. The story of course ends the way it ...more
I enjoyed this book to an extent. Erickson gives Catherine a voice and a personality that explain her actions while a girl and then Queen without resorting to the standard "she was fifteen and stupid" explanation. I did have some quarrels with the material: it wasn't historically accurate (which the author admits, but it bothered me), I hated the portrayal of Anne of Cleves (personal nitpick), and I felt that the book was front-heavy and the ending rushed. Still, it's a sympathetic portrayal of ...more
Oct 13, 2012 Liz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: henry VIII fans, history lovers
Recommended to Liz by: self
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erickson returns with another novel in the Tudor history saga, specifically the many wives of Henry VIII. While the book seeks to explore the life of Catherine Howard, it could be considered a novel of both Howard (Henry's fifth wife) as well as Anne of Cleves (his fourth). The book begins at the execution of Anne Boleyn (his second), with whom Howard is a cousin. From there, the reader learns more about Howard and her life in England, as well as her search for love. Introducing a number of the ...more
I tried to like this book. I was one for one with Ms. Erickson's novels in that I loved "The Last Wife of Henry VIII" but couldn't stand her novel on Mary, Queen of Scots. This book fell somewhere toward the latter category. To its credit, the historical accuracy was significantly better than the author's outright falseness in telling Mary Stuart's story. On the flip side, there are only so many facts that can be distorted when it comes to Catherine Howard -- she was a silly child, married to a ...more
This book offered a much more realistic and sympathetic portrayal of Catherine Howard than other Tudor era books I've read, namely Phillipa
Gregory's "The Boleyn Inheritance". In that novel, she was characterized as a saucy airhead with occasional moments of shallow wit-the most amusing of the POV characters, but not someone you'd want to eat lunch with. Erickson's Catherine, however, is a well meaning, optimistic girl who does consider the feelings of others, but has all the faults one could e
Lisa James
Well, anyone who knows any basic English history knows that Henry VIII was a horrific character in the history of the country. His 6 wives were either divorced, died, or executed, except for his last one, who thankfully became a widow. The author gets to the heart of these unfortunate women, who thought they had it all, before their worlds fell apart around their ears. This is the first in the series that I've read, & I am looking forward to reading the rest.
Linda Harkins
Carolly Erickson weaves her vivid imagination into authentic history to create yet another page-turner. This is the heartbreaking story of young Catherine Howard with the rich red-brown hair who catches the king's attention when he meets the realm's beauties. Fearing the worst for his only legitimate son, the frail and sickly Prince Edward, Henry VIII longs for a young wife who can produce a healthy male heir to the throne. After negotiations disintegrate in forming an alliance between England a ...more
I have always been a big fan of Carolly Erickson's work, but I really cannot what she was thinking when she wrote this book. It is certainly not Erickson's best work. There are too many historical discrepancies that it should be considered fiction only, not historical fiction.
In it, the reason for Henry's deep infatuation with Catherine is that he supposedly had an affair with her mother, whom died while giving birth to his stillborn son. But if there where any truth to this at,all would Ericks
Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer)
I love,love, love Tudor books! This one did not disappoint. It showed Catherine Howard in a more sensitive light. It is always interesting to see the different points of view this historical fiction novels can have.
I have read a couple of Carollly Erickson's books and I have enjoyed them. This book on Catherine Howard, Henry VIII 5th wife was pretty entertaining. I don't know as much about Catherine Howard as I do about Anne Boleyn, but Carolly Erickson's character was the sweet, unknowing, innocent type of girl that really had no instruction or "parental guidance" which led her astray. She made her the teenage girl that was just looking for love in all the wrong places, along with an ambitious family that ...more
Brittany B.
So disappointing. Exponentially more fiction than history. Not just distorted but made-up and goofy. Not written well. Just a lot of crap, reading this was a waste of time.

If you're going to make it all up, make it worth the effort! Such crap!
This is the standard Katherine Howard tale that is so often repeated...the foolish fifteen year old, married to a grumpy middle aged man, which lets face it was never going to end well. I hated the portrayal of Anne of Cleves in this book, Anne comes across as petty and spiteful, unkind and lacking in compassion or generosity.
The author does try to give Katherine a voice, portray her as a victim. I agree to some extent she was definitely used by her family and their hunger for power. Was Kather
Liz Cee
Three and three quarter stars... :)

This is the kind of book that you want to keep reading. It is a very quick read. Although it is fiction, there was no new information added to the bones of the story. In fact, it was pretty much identical to Catherine Howard's story in "The Tudors".

I did really enjoy it though. I have been reading a great deal of YA, SF and Zombie stuff recently and was happy for the change of pace.

Erickson's descriptions of the food and dress of the time of Henry VIII is excel
As with others of Ms. Erickson's novels, she tells a good story and it is easily readable. However, she plays too much with the truth for my taste. Nowhere could I find any link between Katherine Howard's mother and King Henry VIII. As this was one of the bases for this story I found that troubling. Also, the author is not kind to Anne of Cleves and attributes a number of negative personality traits and actions to her which I have never read anywhere else. I happen to be very fond of Anne, this ...more
I truly wish there was more to Katherine Howard's life than what has been surmised throughout history. On the one hand, I can't help but feel sorry for her. Even her father seemed to have let her down, seeking favour rather than being a support to his daughter. As far as her indiscreet behavior pre-queen, there's much blame to be had, especially the men she'd trusted--Henry Manox and Francis Dunham. Her actions, at least in this account, are those of a teenage girl with romantic notions of love. ...more
Sheli Ellsworth
The wives of King Henry VIII have always been fertile ground for historical fiction writers. After all, who hasn’t fantasized about beheading their spouse? In //The Unfaithful Queen//author Carolly Erickson elegantly takes up the cause for Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife. While Catherine’s marital indiscretions are historical facts, her motivation for them is the stuff of compelling fiction.
The book is not a typical rehash of Henry’s poor leadership, but a look at a complex man with politi
This book was entertaining enough, and a quick read. I didn't really love Catherine though. I felt like Erickson didn't give me enough insight to why she made the decisions she did. I am a fan of these historial entertainment novels, and did not expect this to be spot on to what actually happened.
I only gave this three stars because the book started well enough, but the middle really dragged for me. I felt that all that was talked about was her lack of pregnancy. The end really came around as a
This review is the result of winning a copy of the book.

"Historical Entertainment" is an accurate description of this book. It was a quick and easy read that would be perfect for taking to the beach. There is no part of the book that is so gripping that you can't put it down if needed. But it's a familiar tale well told enough that you will be entertained for a few hours.
What is lacking is any depth to the characters. There is no presence to the Katherine Howard who is the narrator for most of t
Adrienne Bowman
I normally LOVE Tudor historical fiction novels, and I particularly like Catherine Howard's story, but I could not get into this book for the life of me. It took me about a month to finish it, and I finished it more out of a sense of obligation because I hate to not finish a book.

It felt slow paced up until the end. I think the reason I didn't like this book is because I am so familiar with Catherine Howard's story and Erickson failed to bring anything new or exciting to the story (well, beside
Jenny Meridius
It's not really fair of me to review this one since I've read almost all her other books, most of which are phenomenal. I think the best were her first few, so all the recent ones tend to pale in comparison. Nevertheless, if it's a Carolly Erickon historical fiction or non-fiction it is going to be amazing. Her captivating writing style coupled with her vast knowledge of the subject matter are what make her novels what they are. Of The Unfaithful Wife, I must say that she made Catherine Howard m ...more
Whitney Willis
Fascinating insight into the fifth wife of Henry the VIII, Catherine Howard. This rendition gave me much more sympathy for the ill fated young queen. Great read if you love Tudor history. On to the next book!
I am a sucker for these historical fiction playaways! I listened to this one every chance I could get. Even if I know exactly how it's going to end (which you pretty much do since it's based on history!) I enjoy the build up. Carolly Erickson spruces things up a bit by changing characters towards the end to give you closure.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I went into this novel knowing it is historical entertainment, and thus was not surprised to find it very loosely based and mere entertainment. Not one of the author's better novels unfortunately.
Another notch in my Tudor history-reading belt, "The Unfaithful Queen" is just ... fine. The writing is clean, but not literary; the characters are believable, but not compelling. There's nothing *wrong* with this book, but it just doesn't sizzle. Also, I imagine that some people will object to Erickson's characterization of Catherine Howard. Erickson's Catherine can read and write and is capable of analytical thought, traits that are generally not born out by the historical record. I confess th ...more
It was okay, I like reading about this period and about the Tudor's.
I enjoy how writers will depict the short lives of the wife's of Hernry VIII.
I enjoyed reading from a more positive perspective about "Kitty" Howard...although this nickname wasn't mentioned it this book, among other things regarding the actions of Katherine Howard. Erickon does remind readers that it is a more fictional than accurate, and new readers of this particular time in England's history might very well rate this book a 4. I've read many historical novels about the 6 wives and Henry VIII, however, that surpase this one. I did appreciate the story enough (minus ab ...more
I have never read much historical fiction. I enjoyed this book and appreciated all the research that the author went into writing about Henry VIII and his empire.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 05, 2015 10:19AM  
  • I, Jane (In the Court of Henry VIII, #4)
  • My Lady Viper (Tales From the Tudor Court, #1)
  • No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard
  • The Forgotten Queen
  • At the King's Pleasure  (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #4 )
  • At the Mercy of the Queen
  • The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr (Ladies in Waiting #2)
  • The Queen's Secret
  • The Shadow of the Pomegranate (Tudor Saga, #3)
  • The Queen's Pleasure
  • Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters
  • A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower
  • The Kiss of the Concubine: A story of Anne Boleyn
  • A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
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 Last Wife of Henry VIII The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette Bloody Mary: The Life of Mary Tudor Rival to the Queen The Tsarina's Daughter

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