Amanda's Reviews > The Last Wife of Henry VIII

The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson
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Aug 04, 11

Read from September 05 to 06, 2010

After having read many of Carolly Erickson's other historical fiction novels (and having tossed aside her novel on Josephine before finishing it just last week), I decided to try her foray into the popular Tudor fiction genre. Rather than exploring the dramatic events surrounding Anne Bolyen's ascension to Queen and Henry VIII's breaking with Rome, Erickson decided to tackle the last and least discussed of Henry's wives, Catherine Parr.

We first meet young Catherine Parr at the age of seven, when he mother is trying to find a husband for her. After a chance meeting with the King, Catherine begins to learn of the perils of court life and the difficulties of being one of Henry's queens. Catherine is later married to Ned Burgh after begging the king to protect her from a marriage to Ned's elderly grandfather. After Ned dies, Catherine is eventually married to the ancient Lord Latimer and befriends his daughter. Meanwhile, Catherine spends time around the court, observing Henry as he ages and the relationships between him and each of his wives -and the horrible fates they all come to: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Bolyen, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard....Shortly after the death of wife number five, Catherine Parr, still married to Lord Latimer, is courted by Henry. After her husband dies, Catherine reluctantly marries Henry, and must hide her Protestant beliefs while dealing with the aging Henry.

Though I found Erickson's writing style and storytelling abilities much improved from previous books, something was still a little lacking in The Last Wife of Henry VIII. Perhaps the book went by too fast, I mean, it felt like Henry's wife was different on every page, and time seemed to move so quickly I almost couldn't grasp onto it. I also found the character to be a little emotionally weak and flat. They really just didn't get me engaging, and I wasn't able to invest in any of the characters (even Catherine) so, honestly, I just didn't care enough. I also would have liked to have seem more time dedicated to Catherine's marriage to Henry. Though the actions leading up to it and afterwards are interesting, the novel is billed as a Henry VIII novel, so it just didn't deliver as mush on that front as I would have liked.

Not as bad as some other reviews out there may say, The Last Wife of Henry VIII has its flaws, but its a decent, quick read.
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