The Heretic's Wife: A Novel
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The Heretic's Wife: A Novel

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  509 ratings  ·  97 reviews
From the bestselling author of The Illuminator comes a magnificent tale about the power of love and the perils of faith

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 wi
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ebook, 416 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sarah (Warning: Potentially Off-Topic)
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...more
C.W.
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
Jodi
Mar 11, 2011 Jodi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura
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!!!!!
Courtney
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...more
Kelley
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
Marvin
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
Ivy
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
L
“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
Rebecca
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
Jacque
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.
Jeanne
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'...more
Cayleigh
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
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...more
Sarah Gruwell
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
Marcee
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...more
Christie
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...more
Meg
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
Lynda
Sep 25, 2013 Lynda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Kristen
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...more
Melissa T
If I hadn't already read several other historical fiction books about Tudor England, I may have been more interested in this one. But....it 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.
Carrie
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...more
Michelle
This book could have been a lot better than it was. I was really expecting the main story to be about the Reformation and getting the scriptures translated into English; while this was a big point in the plot, I feel like the story was really about the love story between the main character and her husband. I felt like there could have been a lot more about the struggle of the reformers.

There is a lot of back and forth between characters in this book. Sometimes it was difficult to tell whose poi...more
Colleen
I do love a good historical fiction, especially when it is well-written. This story meshed with some of the other books I've read from the period but took on a particularly fascinating religious viewpoint. Who is a heretic and do they deserve to die a fiery death? Can't get my head around this. We take for granted reading the scriptures in our own language and interpreting them for ourselves.
Kris
The story of Kate Gough, a single woman and a bookseller. She lives in Tudor England, a perilous place for booksellers who sell forbidden translations of the Bible. Kate's story is filled with interesting historical detail and you feel as if you are there along with her walking the foggy streets of London, seeing the horrors of Newgate prison, smelling the Thames River and getting caught up in a dangerous cause. I just read another book about Henry VIII and Anne Boylen so I felt like I had a lit...more
Katmac
For my own review. Excellent trilogy about an Illuminator during the reformation in England. The Catholic Church having a tizzy fit in the form of killing, torturing and locking up and forgetting any one that disagreed with how things were run by them including the King. Illuminators, booksellers and free thinkers through three generations. Never mind that God is Love, what does God have to do with the power and control of the Church? Excellent research, writing and story telling.
Victoria
A number of years ago, I read - and loved - Vantrease's The Illuminator. This title? Yeah. Not so much love.

I think I'm just over the saturation of books about Tudor England. And those are tough words because a) I majored in history at university and b) I love me some historical fiction.

The one thing that kept me from giving this book a flat 1 star rating was it definitely caused me to pause and realize just how fortunate we are that we live in a literate society where the written word is so eas...more
Linda
Tudor England as seen from the point of view of a Lutheran woman who is married to John Frith, a real life martyr to the cause of translating the Bible into English and distributing them in England under Henry VIII. Of interest to me was a new perspective of Sir Thomas More, not as the long-suffering chancellor who becomes a martyr himself rather than aid Henry's mission to break with Rome and establish himself as head of the church in order to divorce Katharine and marry Anne. Here, we see More...more
LeAnne
Another fabulous story from Brenda Rickman Vantrease. She takes us through a dangerous time in history, when people are burned at the stake for translating scripture into the language of common people and thus "undermining" the Catholic church's authority. Vantrease makes that period and the people come alive. I did not want this book to end, particularly since it's her latest. I very much hope it is not her last!
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Goodreads Librari...: Combining editions with slightly different author 2 27 Dec 15, 2011 10:10AM  
  • Blood Royal
  • Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • Lady of the Butterflies
  • The Creation of Eve
  • The Queen's Pleasure
  • The Needle in the Blood
  • The King's Daughter
  • Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
  • The Book of Fires
  • The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3)
  • The Queen's Governess
  • Mary of Carisbrooke: The Girl Who Would Not Betray Her King
  • Between Two Queens (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #2)
  • Her Highness, the Traitor
  • The Secret Eleanor
  • House Of Treason: The Rise And Fall Of A Tudor Dynasty
  • The King's Mistress
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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...
The Illuminator (Illuminator, #1) The Mercy Seller (Illuminator, #2)

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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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