Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Independently published
Pub date: 24 February 2019
The Story of Catherine Howard Book 1.
It is 1531, Catherine is 7 years old and has just moved to Chesworth House in Sussex to live with her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Whilst here Catherine is to learn how to be a lady in the hopes of securing a worthy husband.
Chesworth House is home to many young ladies all with the same hopes and dreams. As the youngest, Catherine soon discovers the older girls allow men in to their chambers. Catherine is left on the side lines but as she grows older attention is shifted to her. Her first admirer is her tutor and she can’t help but be happy with his attentions, that is until he begins to scare her. On discovery he is sent away but it’s not long before another switches his attention to her. Francis Dereham is handsome and plies her with attention and presents but Catherine begins to see another side of him, he’s jealous and has a vile temper. Thankfully her grandmother solves the problem but it’s too late for Catherine’s maidenhead, that was taken without consent.
With the scandal hushed up her uncle, Duke of Norfolk finds Catherine a place at court in the household of the soon to become Queen, Anne of Cleves. For Catherine this is a dream and as she begins her life at court she finally finds somewhere she can call home, where she feels she belongs as part of something.
Thomas Culpepper catches her eye but before any relationship can begin she finds herself the target of another’s admiration, Henry VIII himself and is soon a pawn to her uncle to further his ambition. Will her past catch up with her?
This is a refreshing portrayal of Catherine. She spends her life subject to the wants of men, from her father, tutors, uncle and the king.
Catherine is depicted as a pawn to all these men who wish to further their own ambition and desire for selfish reasons giving little regard to Catherine’s feelings with the exception of Henry who genuinely appears to love her which is all she’s ever wanted, to be loved.
Lawrence brings Catherine to life and provides a story based on true history with fictional embellishments and the result is outstanding. I haven’t seen Catherine as a victim before but this depiction gives an alternative view to those I’ve previously read and I’m inclined to view Catherine in a new light. Catherine is usually known as young and flighty but this book brings us her earlier life, something I’d not really read about. All throughout Catherine’s life there is turmoil in England, from the execution of her cousin Anne Boleyn, the dissolution of the monasteries and other major historical events. Lawrence brings all of these to the forefront through the girls and the Dowager Duchess gossiping.
It’s a striking portrayal of the Tudor court, from the people to the palaces and the clothing. I loved how the court gossip provided insight in to Anne of Cleves and how she found herself in a very beneficial position following her separation from Henry VIII.
The writing style is beautiful and descriptive but very easy to read and I found myself drawn in to Catherine’s life.
I highly enjoyed this book and have already got myself a copy of the second instalment No More Time to Dance. I’m excited to continue with Catherine’s story as she embarks on her journey as Henry VIII’s fifth queen.
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