Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir brings her Tudor Queens series to a close with the remarkable story of Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, who manages to survive him and remarry, only to be thrown into a romantic intrigue that threatens the very throne of England.
“A superb read and a remarkable end to a brilliant series.”—Historical Novel Society
Having sent his much-beloved but deceitful young wife Katheryn Howard to her beheading, King Henry fixes his lonely eyes on a more mature woman, thirty-year-old, twice-widowed Katharine Parr. She, however, is in love with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother to the late Queen Jane. Aware of his rival, Henry sends him abroad, leaving Katharine no choice but to become Henry’s sixth queen in 1543. The king is no longer in any condition to father a child, but Katharine is content to mother his three children, Mary, Elizabeth, and the longed-for male heir, Edward.
Four years into the marriage, Henry dies, leaving England’s throne to nine-year-old Edward—a puppet in the hands of ruthlessly ambitious royal courtiers—and Katharine's life takes a more complicated turn. Thrilled at this renewed opportunity to wed her first love, Katharine doesn't realize that Sir Thomas now sees her as a mere stepping stone to the throne, his eye actually set on bedding and wedding fourteen-year-old Elizabeth. The princess is innocently flattered by his attentions, allowing him into her bedroom, to the shock of her household. The result is a tangled tale of love and a struggle for power, bringing to a close the dramatic and violent reign of Henry VIII.
Weir's final book in the Six Tudor Queens series (after Katheryn Howard: The Scandalous Queen) is an engaging and deeply researched take on Henry VIII's final wife, Katherine Parr. Katherine, the highly educated and beautiful daughter of high-ranking courtiers, marries heir Edward Burgh at 16. Marital relations are scarce and awkward, and Weir suggests Edward is gay. After Edward's death, Katherine marries widower John Latimer, twice her age. As John lays dying, Katherine and Thomas Seymour fall in love and secretly pledge to marry; meanwhile, Henry VIII asks for Katherine's hand, having recently executed Katheryn Howard. With anti-reformist religious fervor rising and heretic hunter Bishop Gardiner burning suspects at the stake, Katherine accepts Henry, hoping to sway him toward religious reforms. Katherine is pious; she openly hosts religious debates in her chambers, but is a secret reformist, wishing to practice without Catholic observances, and later uncovers Gardiner's plot to arrest her for heresy. Weir brings her expertise of the Tudor era to bear with rich detail and historical perspective on politics and religion, and the many intelligent conversations between Katherine and Henry VIII add to the charm. With a mercurial, captivating king as hook, Weir serves up a sharp and lucid blend of grim fact and stylish fiction.