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The Last Wife of Henry VIII

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,300 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
Author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

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
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by St. Martin's Press (first published October 3rd 1980)
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May 04, 2008 Stacey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2010 Emma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Full review at This was the 13th Literary Wives read (find us on FB). . I believe I am the only hosting blogger who truly enjoyed this one. I felt as if I truly learned what it might be like to live as a woman/wife in 16th Century Tudor England, and that's what I always want in a historical fiction novel! I really respected and liked Catherine Parr, though I was disappointed that she had an adulterous affair. Though if you check our reviews some of the o ...more
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
Jan 30, 2012 Angela Joyce rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2009 Bookwoman7 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rita Berk
Told in the first person, Catherine Parr recounts her life. She married for love, miscarried his child when he was accidentally killed, married an older man who died, was ready to marry for love again when King Henry asked her to be wife number six and she could not refuse. When Henry died, she did marry her love but he was not of good character. Court intrigue, jealousy, and schemes abound. Fun historical novel.
Mar 15, 2014 Laila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good for a trip. Easy and forgettable.
Jun 20, 2014 Etcetorize rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Francesca Scanlan
Jul 10, 2015 Francesca Scanlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, overall, I rather enjoyed this book- as I thought I would, because I'm beginning to have a girl crush on Catherine Parr! It was wonderfully easy to read: so much so that I read it in two days (and could have read it in one if I hadn't been so tired), and I liked how it spanned all of Catherine's life, and not just the part where she was married to Henry.
However, it loses a star, because I found some scenes- especially those towards the end of the novel- pretty implausible. This mostly app
Meghana Bommareddy
I read this many years ago, as a young girl, and so my memories are somewhat hazy. I recall it as a novel of my mother's that I secretly read.

Honestly, I can only remember a line or two of dialogue, but I do remember that the novel is primarily historical fiction, and even then I doubted that was what Catherine (or is it Katherine?) Parr's life was like. I now doubt anything said in the novel was accurate other than that she married Thomas Seymour and the king.

So even though it was well-written,
Sep 19, 2013 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 14, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work of historical fiction about Catherine Parr was an engaging yet quick read. I enjoyed the narrative and the writing style, but at times missed the more in-depth treatment of the royal court given by Philippa Gregory (a favorite historical fiction author).
Junemarie Brandt
I expected more from Carolly Erickson. Specifically more attention to historical accuracy and less on the totally implausible. Erickson had a career as a serious writer of history before she jumped onto the frenzy of Tudor popularity inspired by "The Tudors" and has now taken a cue from their habit of twisting events for dramatic effect. Catherine Parr, a devoutly religious, scholarly woman in her thirties would not have the opportunity as Queen to sneak off alone to prisons or to trysts, and ha ...more
Jan 18, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2014 Gina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2014 Ani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Marie Muse
Feb 21, 2016 Marie Muse rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I am always prepared to suspend disbelief and forgive historical inaccuracies when reading historical fiction, as long as the story moves along in a logical and entertaining manner. I couldn't do it with "The Last Wife of Henry VIII." The Catherine Parr that is described in the beginning of the novel is observant and clever and has no relation to the foolish, simpering Catherine Parr that inhabits the second half of the novel. There were just too many inconsistencies in character development for ...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
Sep 22, 2011 Anna Tomasso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry VIII is one of my favourite historical figures, love to read stories about his life
Jul 07, 2015 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fact that this book wasn't historically accurate did not bother me. I decided to read this book because I am a fan of the Tudors and was left craving more. Catherine Parr is one of lesser known wives of Henry the VIII and her story really fascinated me.

While I read this book, I just wondered how Catherine was still alive. She had some bizarre encounters with Henry in the book and while I knew she outlived him, it was just somewhat surprising that she did. Catherine was a lovable character t
Mar 24, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stevo Ilišković
U pravednom svetu starac bi dostojanstveno ostao po strani, ustupio svoju titulu i sva dobra svom unuku i odlutao negde u divljinu da umre. Međutim, svet je nepravedan i starci se čvrsto drže svojih titula i svojih poseda.
To je čovek kog mrzim - pa ipak, moje telo želelo je da se preda njegovim snažnim rukama i lepom divljem licu koje se naginjalo ka meni.
Zapitala sam se da li nas je pozvao da prenoćimo kako bi mi banuo u spavaću sobu. Uvek se tako ponašao prema meni, kao zavodnik.
Pogledala sam
Mar 31, 2015 Selkie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2015 Jeneé rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 05, 2015 10:13AM  
  • Plain Jane
  • The Last Boleyn
  • My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves
  • The Secret Bride (In The Court of Henry VIII, #1)
  • Katharine of Aragon: The Wives of Henry VIII (Tudor Saga, #2-4)
  • I, Elizabeth
  • Mademoiselle Boleyn
  • The Concubine
  • The Last Queen
  • Vengeance Is Mine: A Novel Of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, And Lady Rochford  The Woman Who Helped Destroy Them Both
  • The King's Daughter. A Novel of the First Tudor Queen (Rose of York)
  • The Virgin Queen's Daughter
  • The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I
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...

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