Philippa Gregory’s latest novel The Taming of the Queen takes us back to Henry VIII’s glamorous court to meet his last wife, Kateryn Parr. However, this is not the court of the golden king that we all love. Henry is no longer in his prime and is in constant pain with his rotting foot. Always a fiery King, his temper is even quicker to explode than before. This is the court that Kateryn has reluctantly inherited. However, Henry adores her and is encouraging her scholarly pursuits and religious views. The challenge for Kateryn is keeping his affection because this King knows that he can always find a new wife.
It was wonderful coming back to Henry’s court. While I have enjoyed Gregory’s Cousin War series, her writing truly shines when she writes about the Tudors. Her language is sophisticated and reminiscent of the time period but is still easy to read. She captures the atmosphere of England in the 1500’s beautifully. You walk the castles right along with Kateryn and feel her tension of living with a temperamental king. This portrayal of Henry was fascinating. He has become so cantankerous, paranoid and selfish. The once sought after royal court is something to fear. Gregory did an incredible job of developing the arc of the young king, who was constantly betrayed and used to getting his way, to an old and bitter man. If you haven’t read Philippa Gregory’s Tudor books, I would highly recommend them. Start the books chronologically and you will really see the development of Henry the VIII’s reign.