The King's Rose

The King's Rose

4.2 15
by Alisa Libby

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Life in the court of King Henry VIII is a complex game. When fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard catches the king's eye, she quickly transforms from pawn to queen. But even luxury beyond imagination loses its luster as young Catherine finds her life-and her heart-threatened by the needs of an aging king and a family hungry for power. Will their agendas deliver

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Life in the court of King Henry VIII is a complex game. When fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard catches the king's eye, she quickly transforms from pawn to queen. But even luxury beyond imagination loses its luster as young Catherine finds her life-and her heart-threatened by the needs of an aging king and a family hungry for power. Will their agendas deliver Catherine to the same fate as her infamous cousin, Anne Boleyn-sacrificed at the altar of family ambition?

Engaging historical fiction with a throbbing YA heartbeat, this thrilling novel will draw readers into the intrigues and dangers of the Tudor court.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Libby's lush historical novel chronicles the intense period during which 15-year-old Catherine Howard became Henry VIII's fifth wife. Starting when the king disposed of his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, by annulment, and taking readers through the moment of Catherine's death for treason against the king, the story captures her powerlessness, despite her title. "You are little more than flesh and blood," her grandmother, the duchess of Norfolk, tells her. "You are the vessel by which the Howards lay claim to the greatest power we can wield." Catherine feels intense pressure to be the king's "rose without a thorn" and produce an heir, but she struggles under the weight of her own past and the machinations of her family: deceiving the king about her virginity, suppressing her love for one of the king's courtiers, Thomas, and contending with the arrival of a former lover and friends seeking positions in her court. The gripping story crackles with the anxiety of the young queen-her lack of control over her own life and desires will resonate most with readers. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)

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VOYA - Chris Carlson
Libby fictionalizes the tragic life of Catherine Howard. Wed to Henry VIII at fifteen, Catherine is influenced by her greedy family. She struggles to deal with their demands and Henry's desire for an heir. Failing to get pregnant, Catherine is manipulated into taking a lover in hopes that a younger man will be able to impregnate her and that she can pass the child off as the king's heir. Instead Catherine's affair is betrayed. Barren, she is banished to the tower where she is beheaded for her treachery. The delightful cover art is sure to attract girls to this book. Although billed as a romance, the relationship between Catherine and her lover here is overshadowed by how she is manipulated by others without thought to her feelings or desires. Catherine's aunt, Lady Rochford, is the master manipulator, ensuring that Catherine catches the king's eye and then hopefully delights him enough to produce an heir. Thomas Cartwright, Catherine's lover, comes across less as a romantic figure than an opportunist. Henry VIII is portrayed as an impotent, old man, beset by many maladies. And Catherine appears to be more vacuous than immature. The unlikeable characters tend to diminish the deft job that Libby does at painting a vivid picture of the opulence of the court and the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by Catherine. Little is written about Catherine Howard, so this rare look at the fourth wife of Henry VIII might appeal to girls interested in this period. Reviewer: Chris Carlson
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Catherine Howard may be one of Henry VIII's less well-known wives, but her story, as told here, is gripping and relatable to modern audiences. Placed in the court by her powerful family, Catherine catches Henry's eye. Her beauty and youth charm the aging king into marrying her shortly after he annuls his marriage to the unattractive Anne of Cleves. Catherine soon learns that even a queen loved by her husband and supported by her influential family is powerless unless she produces an heir. Her promiscuity before her marriage to King Henry and her efforts to conceive a child after her marriage soon put everything she has, even her life, in jeopardy. While the dominance of sexual behavior in the life of this fifteen-year-old makes this book more appropriate for older readers, the story is tastefully and delicately told. Catherine's struggle between her necessary reliance on her beauty and sexuality and the treason of being anything but virginal and pure for the king echoes in the lives of young women today. Although the pacing slows at times, and the story gets repetitive, the beautiful language and the tension of Catherine's life-or-death dilemma keep the pages turning. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Beautiful Catherine Howard, 15, has attracted the attention of aging King Henry Tudor, who is becoming increasingly desperate for a son. His only son, Edward, is a sickly youngster, and Henry is worried about the succession. He has already rid himself of three wives and, now, he finds a way to dispense with his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, so he can marry Catherine. Catherine has been thrust before him by her powerful Howard relatives, and she knows that her role is to keep the king happy, but she has grown up in the morally lax household of her grandmother, the dowager Duchess of Norfolk, and she has secrets in her past that, if revealed, will ruin her. Told in Catherine's voice, the story gains real immediacy as she glories in the excitement and glamour of the court, but soon realizes that she is in great danger. Her love for young Thomas Culpepper overcomes her common sense, and their affair seals her doom. Period activities such as a bear-baiting contest are skillfully woven into the plot. The dowager Duchess and her accomplice, Lady Jane Rochford, are deliciously amoral in their relentless political scheming. One particularly effective scene has Catherine shocked at seeing a portrait of the youthful Henry and realizing how much he has deteriorated. While numerous sexual encounters are part of the political reality, they are subtly handled. A real treat for lovers of historical fiction.-Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Romance novels often tell stories of women imprisoned by circumstance but whose hearts, and other parts, ache for true love. Here, that tormented soul is 15-year-old Catherine Howard, a vivacious young woman who catches the eye of the lusty, aging King Henry VIII and soon finds herself playing the part of his fifth wife, with strict orders to produce a male heir . . . or else. It's a perilous role. Henry's second wife, Catherine's cousin Anne Boleyn, was beheaded, and Anne's ghost haunts her with admonitions about the fickle king: "His tiny man-member wagged, and he followed it wherever it led him, destroying all that stood in his path...Do you think he will hesitate to destroy you?" The constant fear of retribution for her past and present sexual indiscretions taints Catherine's genuine pleasure in her newfound status, bejeweled gowns and other courtly extravagances, and this daily conflict is vividly, often poetically expressed in the queen's first-person voice. More drama than history, this suspenseful, downright racy tale will send readers hurtling headlong toward the novel's bitter end. (Fiction. 15 & up)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
HL810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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The King's Rose 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
dholland08 More than 1 year ago
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby was an excellent work of historical fiction. It is the story of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. Little more than a child bride (she's fifteen when she gets married) Catherine is thrust into a world of intruige, with the spotlight of the Tudor court on her at all times. Catherine was pressured by her scheming family to marry the aging King Henry, and they continue to pressure her constantly to be their vision of the perfect queen. Even as Catherine enjoys the luxuries of being royalty, she feels the constant threat that comes with being queen and seeks to hide some of her darker secrets. If the king should find out that she was less than pure when she married him and that her heart still belongs to another, Catherine's very life is at stake. This was a riveting good read. Alisa M. Libby deftly wove her portait of Tudor court life, by narrating the story as Catherine. We see this world from Catherine's eyes and the story is told as if it is happening right now, so the reader is drawn into the plot, like they're right there experiencing it. Catherine is a character you can sympathize with, and feel for deeply as the novel hurtles toward it inevitable ending. I highly reccommend reading The King's Rose. The imagery is beautiful and the characterization is done very well. For history lovers or anyone who likes a good story, this one is a treat.
rebecca_herman More than 1 year ago
Born into the ambitious Howard family, Catherine has never had much control over her life and fate. Her cousin, the infamous Anne Boleyn, lured King Henry VIII into marriage then met a grisly end. Hoping for a marriage that will benefit the family, Catherine's relatives send her to court in 1540, when she is fifteen. There, Catherine catches the eye of the king, who decides to divorce his current wife, Anne of Cleves, and marry her. Though Catherine would prefer to marry for love, one does not refuse the king, and even if she could, her family is determined to gain power through her marriage. From the start, Catherine feels like she is living a lie, and playing a part to be the wife Henry desires. He wanted a pure, innocent maiden, and Catherine had a foolish and youthful love affair before coming to court, an event the king must never learn about. Woefully unprepared for the life she must live, Catherine struggles with her own immaturity and the conflicting desires of the king and her family, and is forced to make terrible choices that will lead to her doom. The King's Rose is a wonderful historical novel for young adults - and adults as well - about the life of King Henry VIII's fifth and youngest wife, Catherine Howard. The author did a good job of bringing Catherine to life and making it understandable why she made the choices she did. Catherine is tragic figure - a young girl, unprepared for the life of a queen, forced into a terrible situation by her family in a time when a young woman had few choices and little right to control her own destiny. I highly recommend this book to readers who are fascinated by the Tudors as well as those who enjoy historical fiction in general.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Yet another young female has caught the eye of the aging King Henry Tudor. This time it is fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard, cousin to Anne Boleyn. Less than a year has passed since her arrival at court, and she is now the Queen of England. Catherine's new life of luxury and being the king's "rose without a thorn" is different. But Catherine's past haunts her, so she must be careful. She dreams of that kiss she shared with her (distant) cousin, Thomas Culpeper. A perfect kiss. Her relations with other men. But all must stay a secret, or death caused by treason could come her way. Being the huge historical fiction fan I am, I just had to buy this book when I could find it around. This was one of the novels I couldn't put down, because I really wanted to continue on and find out what was going to happen. There isn't much else to say, aside from I loved THE KING'S ROSE. If you enjoy historical fiction, you should definitely check this one out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worth every penny.
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darlene10 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Catherine is a child who is pushed into an audlt world and does not have the tools to survive. Good read
HistoryBuffess More than 1 year ago
I have read a lot of books about the wives of Henry the 8th and this is one of the best. Even though I knew what would ultimately happen to Cathereine I was kept onthe edge of my seat hoping against hope that things would turn out differently. The writing was good, the pace was even and I cared about the characters... I also felt like the context of the book was good- I feel like I learned things about Henry's England... it was really good- I highly reccomend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ezmirelda More than 1 year ago
This book was fun and exciteing to read because before this I'd never had the chance to read a book from this time period. I felt like I was learning and having fun reading at the same time. All in all it was a pretty good book,guaranteed to have you in tears by the end. I would definetly reccomend this to all open to trying something new.
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