The Confession of Katherine Howard

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Overview

The tragic, moving, and gripping story of the ascendanceand fall of Katherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII,and the best friend she nearly dragged down with her

When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to livein the Duchess of Norfolk’s household she could not bemore different than her poor relation, Cat Tilney. Yet,of all their companions, it is Cat, watchful and ambitious, to whom theseemingly frivolous young girl confides. When Katherine is summonedto the royal court at...

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The Confession of Katherine Howard

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Overview

The tragic, moving, and gripping story of the ascendanceand fall of Katherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII,and the best friend she nearly dragged down with her

When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to livein the Duchess of Norfolk’s household she could not bemore different than her poor relation, Cat Tilney. Yet,of all their companions, it is Cat, watchful and ambitious, to whom theseemingly frivolous young girl confides. When Katherine is summonedto the royal court at seventeen—to become, months later, the wife ofHenry VIII after he casts off his previous queen—she leaves behind anex-lover, Francis, with whom Cat is soon passionately involved.

But a future that seems assured for the pampered new queen andher maid-in-waiting lasts a brief year and a half, only to be imperiledby improper acts and scandalous allegations of girlhood love affairs.Imprisoned in the Tower and hoping to escape a most terrible fate, afrightened, desperate Katherine relates a version of events that onlyCat recognizes as a lie—as more than one life is threatened by what shealone knows to be the truth about Katherine Howard’s past.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her fourth historical novel, Dunn (The Queen of Subtleties; The Sixth Wife; The Queen's Sorrow) accomplishes the immense task of chronicling the life and personality of Henry VIII's fifth wife, Katherine Howard (1524–42), with consummate skill, exceptional creativity, and a laudable attention to detail. Told from the perspective of Cat Tilney, who was a ward of the Duchess of Norfolk like Katherine, the novel follows the allied ladies as they progress from childhood to womanhood. Unlike other novels about the ill-fated queen, Dunn's Katherine is neither ignorant nor flighty but rather a young woman caught in the world she shaped after being all but abandoned by her family. Don't label Dunn's book as a new twist on an old tale, however, for it is much more than that; Katherine's relationship with Francis Dereham, which would later be her undoing, is shown for what it very possibly could have been and what it is rarely acknowledged as—a childhood crush. VERDICT An absolutely essential read for Tudor-infatuated and historical fiction fans.—Audrey M. Johnson, Arlington, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Queen Katherine's life of clothes, music and "constant partying" comes to an unpleasant end in Dunn's (The Queen's Sorrow,2008, etc.) latest historical.

As observed by her BFF Catheryn Tilney, Henry VIII's fifth wife, Kate Howard is a bit of a tramp. Although raised in a Catholic household, Kate was apparently only pretending to be a virgin on her wedding night and since becoming queen has taken a lover. Dunn's account of 19-year-old Kate's downfall in 16th-century England uses modern language and preoccupies itself with friendships, rivalries and, above all, sex. An overlong central flashback is devoted to Cat and Kate's younger years living with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, which is where Kate became involved with Francis Dereham, later to be Cat's lover and the first victim of Kate's fall from royal grace, taken to the Tower for questioning about his early relationship with the queen. The novel's drama is in its beginning and end, tracing Kate's swift descent: questioned, stripped of her crown jewels, pressured to admit she was pre-contracted to Francis, which would have rendered her unavailable for the royal marriage, and eventually betrayed. A postscript offers the succinct facts and fates of the protagonists.

A sexually charged version of history angled toward a Gossip Girl audience.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062011473
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 639,138
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzannah Dunn is the author of ten novels in the United Kingdom, including The Sixth Wife and The Queen of Subtleties, both published in the United States as well. She lives in Brighton, England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating

    In childhood, Catherine Tilney and Katherine Howard became best friends when both were wards of the Duchess of Norfolk. They remain close through their teen years as their families ignore them. Katherine falls in love with Francis Dereham. However, King Henry VIII makes the teenager his fifth wife. However, her time as queen is short because of accusations that she had an arrangement with Dereham prior to marrying the king; her best friend, a lady in waiting, is also considered for execution due to guilt by association.

    The Confession of Katherine Howard is made fresh by Catherine, as the narrator Tilney provides a unique perspective that in many ways turns the exciting story line into her tale as she paints a picture of her friend as being intelligent rather than an inane flirt. In order for Howard to have achieved what she did in a man's world where she was abandoned as a child, she would have needed some smarts. Ironically what beheaded her was her childhood attraction to Francis Dereham, which no evidence supported the contention that this continued as an adult but was used as if it was alive during her marriage to the king. Although the wives of Henry have been featured in many biographical fictions including by Suzannah Dunn (see The Queen of Subtleties, The Sixth Wife and The Queen's Sorrow; and The King's Rose by Alissa Libby), this is a unique look at a woman unfairly judged during her life and since; perhaps Hnetry in his gut knew as he aged rapidly after her beheading.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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