Monday, 3 March 2014

Book Review: The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk's household, poor relation Cat Tilney is deeply suspicious of her. The two girls couldn't be more different: Cat, watchful and ambitious; Katherine, interested only in clothes and boys. Their companions are in thrall to Katherine, but it's Cat in whom Katherine confides and, despite herself, Cat is drawn to her. Summoned to court at seventeen, Katherine leaves Cat in the company of her ex-lover, Francis, and the two begin their own, much more serious, love affair. Within months, the king has set aside his Dutch wife Anne for Katherine. The future seems assured for the new queen and her maid-in-waiting, although Cat would feel more confident if Katherine hadn't embarked on an affair with one of the king's favoured attendants, Thomas Culpeper. However, for a blissful year and a half, it seems that Katherine can have everything she wants. But then allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Desperately frightened, Katherine recounts a version of events which implicates Francis but which Cat knows to be a lie. With Francis in the Tower, Cat alone knows the whole truth of Queen Katherine Howard - but if she tells, Katherine will die.

My Review: 
This is going to be the last book I read by this author if she chooses to publish more. So far I have given the three books 1, 2 and 3 stars and this one is back down again. It is the story of a 'friend' of Katherine Howard who knew her as they grew up together and came to serve her at Court. It focuses much more on the relationship between both girls and Frances Dereham than Katherine as Queen, which was disappointing.

Character development is non existant. Katherine Howard is an unpleasant, cold, snotty bitch through the early book, leaving her totally unlikable. When you are meant to feel sympathy for her, you just can't find any. The only thing that kept me going was knowing Katherine was going to the block herself. This book paints Katherine as villan not victim, which may or may not be true depending on which non fiction authors you choose to read but for a fiction story to have her so unpleasant goes against all written opinions of her. The most fascinating woman in Tudor history if you don't count Anne Boleyn, is Jane Rochford who hardly gets any time from the author, which is a real shame. In the early stages of the book, Katherine and Cat barely speak two words to each other and are hardly friends yet suddenly at Court they are BFF's and sharing dangerous secrets! I did not find this particularly believable. Henry Mannox is quite important to her downfall but he barely seems relevant with the way he was written. Even Thomas Culpepper is just a shadow of a character who should have been much more in the story.

The plot showing Katherine lying to save herself and sending Frances Dereham to the block, and Cat betraying her to save Frances was interesting enough but it was too little too late. There was too much useless waffle about Katherine arriving at the Dowager Duchess' house and how she changed things and who she fancied and fought with, and the boring thoughts of Cat and Jo. It was surprisingly dull stuff considering the real Katherine's antics at this time were a huge scandal for a girl her age. Somehow the author manages to turn the potentially exciting investigation into Katherine into something dull and lacklustre by having Frances saying 'I'm off to get questioned' and then Cat sits about all day waiting to see him then he appears and hardly says anything about what happened and off they go to bed. Yawn! The writing was boring, repetitive and unimaginative.

The modern language used in her books seems to upset a lot of Tudor fans but it doesn't really bother me one way or another to be honest. But I do hate the fact that she will not use the proper names for characters, preferring 'modern versions'.

If you want to read good stories about Katherine Howard I suggest you read 'The Boleyn Inheritance' by Philippa Gregory or 'The Tudor Wife' by Emily Purdy. 
star rating photo: 1 star orange-1star.jpg

1 comment:

  1. Apologies to Christy @ Love of Books who left a message here. There was an html issue so I had to delete all 4 reviews here and re-do them and that meant your post was lost. Here is the comment Christy left:

    Huh - well, I don't think I'll be reading these any time soon. The mondernization of it seems kind of interesting, but meh.