Becky's Reviews > The King's Rose

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby
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Jan 24, 09

Read in January, 2009

Libby, Alisa. M. 2009. (March 2009) THE KING'S ROSE. Dutton. 296.

The King's Rose is one of those books that just captured my attention (and my heart!). It is a fictionalized account of Catherine Howard, and for those not in the know, she was the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Catherine Howard was just fifteen (perhaps even fourteen) when she caught the lusty eyes of the King. (And Henry liked them young.) Catherine's tale is tragic in that while the king chose her...she quite honestly didn't have a choice in the matter. Prompted and urged by her family--she became the person they created her to be, that the king wanted or needed her to be. And thus her life of deception began. For Catherine has a secret or two that may be her undoing...

The king is in love with me. But who am I? Who is this girl that the Howards created out of their words, to whom the king has given his love? I am King Henry's sweet wife--Catherine Howard, no more. I wonder if God can see me now, see the treason in my heart. I squeeze my eyes shut, pushing these thoughts from my mind. I am a player upon a stage, even when the stage is a bed, even in an intimate moment such as this, with no costume or mask to cover my nakedness, I must play my part well, especially in an intimate moment such as this. I must become my role, and nothing else. (56)

She's haunted by a kiss shared with her distant cousin, one of the King's men, Thomas Culpepper, a perfect kiss with much promise...because it occurred before she caught the King's attention.

My life will be more than I ever could have imagined--but perhaps it will also be a little bit less. All of this must be put aside now, the words and dreams that led to his perfect kiss, near midnight in the dark garden at Westminster, and all the happiness that kiss seemed sure to promise. This was a different Catherine who received these letters, who responded to that kiss--since then I have been transformed by the king's eyes, by the royal jewels around my neck and a cloth-of-gold gown...but who is the real Catherine: the shadow or the light? The smoke or the flame? (44)

The King's Rose is engaging and richly detailed. Libby is an excellent storyteller. It's just not the story itself that is fascinating, but how the story is told that makes it so captivating.
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