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The Heretic's Wife

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  658 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
Tudor England is a perilous place for booksellers Kate Gough and her brother John, who sell forbidden translations of the Bible. Caught between warring factions - English Catholics opposed to the Lutheran reformation, and Henry VIII's growing impatience with the Pope's refusal to sanction his marriage to Anne Boleyn - Kate embarks on a daring adventure that will lead her i ...more
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,103)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
Historical fiction of the Tudor era has an uphill battle. There are just so many novels about that time, from Philippa Gregory’s blatant romances sprinkled with a touch of history to Hilary Mantel’s prize-winning, erudite, and decidedly unromantic Wolf Hall. The world is not exactly crying out for more variations of the Henry VIII-Anne Boleyn story.

Still, I had some hope for The Heretic’s Wife. It focuses not on the portly serial bridegroom Henricus Rex, but on the sister of a bookseller who pl
Jun 24, 2013 C.W. rated it it was amazing
Brenda Rickman Vantrease is truly one of the exceptional historical novelists working today. In her third book, THE HERETIC'S WIFE, she follows the fortunes and tragedies of the descendants of her protagonists in "The Illuminator" and "The Mercy Seller", forwarding us in time to the dangerous years of Henry VIII's reign, when the bastion of Catholicism began to crumble under an influx of illegal Protestant literature. As she so masterfully established in her previous novels, Ms Vantrease knows h ...more
Mar 11, 2011 Jodi rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Another book set in Tudor England that talks about various people involved in King Henry VIII's time including Anne Boleyn, Thomas More, Thomas Frith, and William Tyndale. Along with all these historical figures, the author included Kate Gough who is fictional. History tells us that Thomas Frith was married but nothing is really known about his wife so the book is centered mainly on Kate who the author has imagined as Thomas Frith's wife. Frith, Tyndale, Kate and many others are fighting for the ...more
May 24, 2010 Laura rated it it was ok
I realize that the protagonist is Protestant and she and her friends are struggling to bring about reforms in the church, but I got tired of the implication that the Catholic Church is BAD!!!!!! and the reformers are GOOD!!!!!
Apr 27, 2014 Courtney rated it it was ok
The bashing of the Catholic Church was not enjoyed by either the Protestants or the Catholics that read this book for my bookclub.
I have always been interested in the life of Henry the eighth and his many wives. I have read many stories and seen many movies and Tv shows regarding his life. During all that time it has never been intimated that King Henry was anti-Catholic. He just was a man who wanted a woman and went to extreme lengths to get her. This book however, makes it seem as if Henry was
Mar 03, 2012 Kelley rated it really liked it
A well-written historical novel recounting the political and spiritual tensions of the Reformation. It's not every day you get to read about Henry VIII getting a hand job from Anne Boleyn, after all. The "Heritic" in the title, the legendary John Frith, well...I know nothing of his actual character, but the feminist in me squirmed every time he treated his wife like a fragile child. I get it, this is the 16th century - 21st century gender politics would be completely anachronistic in this book, ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Marvin rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Despite (1) a cover that made me embarrassed to read this in public because it makes this look like a historical romance novel--and there were elements of that; (2) an anachronistically feminist heroine; (3) characters who were almost all either unblemished heroes or villains; (4) a gradual realization that this could be read as (and perhaps even was intended as) a Protestant, anti-Catholic polemic--despite all this I found this to be an engaging yarn that shed light on Reformation-era England. ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
I found the romantic plot of this novel overly predictable and slow-moving at times, but Vantrease's talent definitely lies in bringing the details of religious turmoil of Tudor England and 16th century Antwerp to life. I was pleasantly surprised by how much this book made me think about my own Christian faith, especially how many things I take for granted. For example, I don't think twice about being able to read and study the Bible on my own or with a group of other women, and those things wer ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Ivy rated it really liked it
I really wanted to give this book a 3.5, but since I was forced to choose I opted to give it the benefit of the doubt. I liked the begining and end of the book, but the middle seemed to drag on. Vantrease seemed to loosed the focus of John Frith adn Wm Tyndale and spend too much time with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. I have read better books about those two and really wanted more of the William Tyndale story, which I consider to be of great import to modern Christianity. I enjoyed the character E ...more
Ian Wood
Nov 27, 2015 Ian Wood rated it did not like it
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Apr 02, 2015 Rachel rated it it was ok
I was so intrigued by the cover, and was so excited to read this book! It's quite a thick book, but it only took me a day to read. I really was so happy about the beginning of the books and was in love with it. I didn't really like the ending though.
Kate was such a wonderful character, I loved her from the beginning. She was so independent, and courageous. I enjoy books where the girl main character is disguised as a man for a little while. They are really interesting, showing the struggles of
Apr 10, 2014 L rated it it was amazing
“The Heretic’s Wife” is my first novel to read by Brenda Rickman Vantrease. When I was recently in TN at one of my favorite local bookstores, Parnassus in Green Hills, the owner recommended this author, knowing that she is a local writer and I am originally from Nashville. This work of historical fiction deals with the times of King Henry VIII, and the corruptness of the government and the church during King Henry’s quest to overrule the Pope and marry Anne Boleyn. I took notes as I read, since ...more
Rose Moore
Dec 17, 2014 Rose Moore rated it really liked it
Wonderful piece of historical fiction centered around the reign of Henry VIII and the printing of Lutheran bibles. The heroine is Kate Gogh, a book seller's sister. When her brother is taken in by the crown for interrogation, he gives it all up to save his family, leaving Kate to try and manage the business. Her work leads her to the center of the printing world in Europe, and the story passes between her life there and the court of the king as he seeks to set aside his wife for Anne Boleyn.

Jen MP
Dec 28, 2014 Jen MP rated it really liked it
I would have given this book 3.5 stars if I could, but I rounded it up to 4. The author has an undoubtedly marvellous way with words that makes any story seem enchanted and fantastic. She is an obviously very gifted story teller who can write characters, both imaginary and those with historical canon, vividly and with dimension - flaws and all. It makes the characters seem surprisingly realistic and you just want to know what happens to them all.
On the downside, I found myself wondering what the
Aug 08, 2011 Jacque rated it really liked it
Couldn't put it down. Found the court intrigue just as fascinating as the Kate's storyline. Makes me want to read some non-fic about this time period in Britain.
May 01, 2014 Jeanne rated it liked it
Is this historical fiction or romance? The author couldn't decide. A relatively good story that seems to hold to historical facts fairly well. Other than learning about John Frith as a very minor character associated with William Tyndale, there was nothing new to me.

What I liked: nicely formed characters, good story line

What I didn't like: foreshadowing that hits the reader like a hammer.I skipped all the parts about Anne Boleyn & Henry VIII. Philippe Gregory wrote them much better. I hadn'
Nov 13, 2015 Nyasha rated it liked it
Once in a while you come across a book that takes you on a true emotional journey; a book that has a good ending though it manages to pull you through the dark realities of life and you feel with the characters what they feel and cry with them. As a fan of historical fiction, i loved this book because it documents the time heretics suffered massive persecution through the reign of King Henry VIII. I especially loved that through Kate i was able to see this harsh period from a young woman's persp ...more
Oct 05, 2015 Candace rated it it was ok
Kate Frith, Anne Boleyn and Margaret Roper - three women who love men influential in the Reformation and the creation of the Church of England. Frith is our main heroine as we navigate the story of the early members of the Protestant movement in Tudor England. In the beginning of the book she is portrayed as an independent woman - who then casts her lot with John Frith and suddenly becomes the dependent wife. For me the book focused too much on Kate and her desire for a child then it did on the ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Cayleigh rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
This story is set in Tudor England while Henry VII is courting Anne Boleyn and reforming the church to fit his needs for his divorce but it mainly follows Kate Gough. Kate is a bookseller who along with her brother, sell forbidden English translations of the Bible. I’ve read many many books about the royal court during this period so I must say it was a change in perspective to see all of the reformation from a common person’s POV. The problem I had with this story is probably one that is unique ...more
Tiff Miller
For a book I literally picked up randomly off the library bookshelf, I am pleasantly surprised. Set in England, during the reign of King Henry VIII (specifically before his divorce from Katherine and during his wooing of Anne Boleyn). It follows the story of the wife of John Frith, named Kate Gough in the book. Frith was a friend of William Tyndale, martyred for his refusal to recant from his Protestant faith. In history, Frith's wife is never named, but we know he had one. Little enough is know ...more
Shawn Spjut
Sep 26, 2012 Shawn Spjut rated it really liked it
Several years ago I purchased Ms. Vantrease’s book, “The Mercy Seller” but just couldn’t get into the story line. Not that there was anything wrong with the storyline, but during that period of my life, I wasn’t reading a lot of fictional books, so trying to make myself read this one wasn’t working.

But then a couple of weeks ago I came across the “The Heretic’s Wife” and thought, “What the heck. The worst thing that can happen is that it’ll end up on the slowly growing pile of books I can’t even
This book is a very vivid look at Tudor England and the religious strife that started to tear the country apart during that era. From the intimate of the individual to the grand of historical significance, this book portrays how the events of that era touch on people of all strata's and types. It makes us think and sympathize with the characters and just makes us experience this tragic, viseral world. I enjoyed seeing Vantrease's characters, both real and imagined, overcome obstacles, fall to ma ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Marcee rated it really liked it
Setting: England and Antwerp during the the reign of Henry VIII (early 16th century)

The main character is a young bookshop proprietress whose family has a history of liberal thinking with regards to religion, a dangerous position when heresy is punishable by imprisonment, torture, and possibly execution. Despite the humble roots of the protagonist, the narration does travel to the English court, though, and to the home of Sir Thomas More. This book offers a very different portrait of the man and
First sentence: "William Tyndale patted the breast pocket of his jerkin for the twentieth time since leaving St. Bart's Fair."

Kate Gough and her brother John run a bookstore in London during the reign of Henry VIII. Many of the books they sell are Lutheran texts which are against the law in 1530s England and John finds himself in jail. Afterwards, John decides it is no longer worth it and close the shop. Kate still wants to help smuggle forbidden books into the country. She faces danger along th
Jan 15, 2011 Meg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
A marvelous read! Brenda Rickman Vantrease delivers intrigue and adventure in a page-turning historical novel that will leave readers questioning what they believe, and what they ought to. The Heretic’s Wife vividly and authentically renders the fascinating world of the Reformation from the viewpoints of historical figures like Thomas More, who opposed it, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who used it to their advantage, William Tyndale, who drove it forward in his English translation of the Bible, an ...more
Sep 25, 2013 Lynda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Vickie Graham, Hilary Sephton, Heather Westbrook, Jennifer jenkins
Recommended to Lynda by: The best book I have purchased at a $1.00 store!
The Heretic's Wife is the best book I have read in a very long time. Once was not enough. Twice was not enough. I continued to read parts even after I had finished reading the book through twice.

The Protestant reformation blew into Tudor England as a hurricane. Regardless of the cost to a person, his family, and his livelihood, many believed that translating the Bible into the language of the people was detrimental to the spread of the Gospel and an individual's relationship with God.

William Tyn
This was a wonderful story, with everything well-written, entertaining historical fiction should be!

Kate Gough is the sister of a bookseller in Tudor England. Unfortunately, they are also supporters, and, more dangerously, secret sellers, of the new English versions of the bible. Since this is considered heresy, and the zealot Sir Thomas More is burning herectics as fast as he can arrest them, Kate's brother is risking everything.

When he is inevitably arrested, Kate bravely searches the prisons
Melissa T
Mar 22, 2014 Melissa T rated it it was ok
If I hadn't already read several other historical fiction books about Tudor England, I may have been more interested in this one. was just disappointing. Started so promising, with strong, interesting characters; which eventually became more flat and predictable as the tale wore on. There were redeeming parts, where a part of the story was well written and seemed to come to life, but then it would slip back into monotony. Overall, I've read better.
Jul 25, 2013 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obsessed with all things Henry IIIV. Tudor England isn't safe for any one whose thoughts or actions cross those of the King. It's also hard to know at any given moment what those thoughts are.

Whilst Henry is only a minor character, his obsession with Anne Boelyn and the desire to divorce Katherine colors beliefs in the Holy Roman Church and launch England's separation from it. But Henry loves the Mass and will not go so far as to permit the Bible to be printed or sold to any one who can read En
Dec 02, 2014 Joan rated it really liked it
I loved this book, the story, the descriptions of the people, places and situations were so well done. The characters were made very real and understandable in both of the opinions that they held. Secondary characters added to the completion of the story and brought an added dimension to the overall story. The story pace was nice and easy to follow with intermittent side stories making in complete. A really enjoyable book. This author is very good.
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Goodreads Librari...: Combining editions with slightly different author 2 27 Dec 15, 2011 10:10AM  
  • Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King
  • The Needle in the Blood
  • Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland
  • Blood Royal
  • The Spymaster's Daughter
  • Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
  • I Am Mary Tudor (Mary Tudor, #1)
  • The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3)
  • The Captive Queen of Scots (Stuart Saga, #2) (Mary Stuart, #2)
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • The Book of Fires
  • Lady of the Butterflies
  • The Creation of Eve
  • The Law of Angels (An Abbess of Meaux Mystery, #3)
  • House of Treason: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty
  • The Lady and the Poet
  • The Sumerton Women
  • For the King
Brenda Rickman Vantrease (born in 1945) is a former librarian and English teacher from Nashville, Tennessee. She grew up and was educated in the Middle Tennessee area where she graduated with a B.A. in English from Belmont University in 1967. During the twenty-five years she served as an educator in Nashville, she earned a masters degree and a doctorate from Middle Tennessee State University. Bren ...more
More about Brenda Rickman Vantrease...

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“God had saved him from the fish cellar and that could only mean one thing. He had more work to do. (John Frith, p.64)” 3 likes
“She is happy, Kate thought. Even in her circumstance, she is happy. Kate almost envied the wounded woman that contentment. Was that what suffering did? she wondered. Place you in such pain that with its lessening, contentment came more easily. (p. 180)” 1 likes
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