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The Heretic’s Wife

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  760 Ratings  ·  121 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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Community Reviews

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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
May 26, 2013 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 05, 2011 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 15, 2010 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!!!!!
Feb 20, 2012 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
Apr 09, 2014 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 22, 2010 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
Apr 18, 2010 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
Feb 05, 2014 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
Mar 07, 2012 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
Aug 08, 2011 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.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I feel that the author tried to focus on too many characters without going into great depth on most. They were flat and not generally gripping. The story was slow at points and lacked focus.
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This look at the dangerous time of William Tyndale translating the Bible into English is seen through the experiences of the fictional wife of John Frith who was a colleague of Tyndale's. The details of daily life and the commitment of the translators is the focus with the machinations of Henry VIII and the nearly psychotic Thomas More breathing down their necks. This is note the view of More from A Man for All Seasons.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
The Heretic's Wife was well written, and I love Vantrease's bits of history tucked within each line, but this book wasn't as good as The Mercy Seller. I have yet to read The Illuminator, but I will when I have an itch to finish the series, albeit backward. I look forward to what Vantrease will publish next!
dragon lord
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it

Wonderful writing and a great story. I read it in one day and plan to read her other novels asap.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-edition
This was so good. Well written and researched with great fictional characters and well drawn actual historic figures. Not to long not to short. Just right. Very well done.
Shawn Spjut
Sep 26, 2012 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
Ian Wood
Nov 27, 2015 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-
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
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
Apr 02, 2015 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
Rev. Linda
Apr 10, 2014 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
Sep 25, 2013 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
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
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
Nov 28, 2014 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
Mar 07, 2011 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
Oct 06, 2012 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
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 25, 2013 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
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Goodreads Librari...: Combining editions with slightly different author 2 27 Dec 15, 2011 10:10AM  
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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
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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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