Friday, 11 March 2016

Writing Parr Excellence

It has taken me longer than I expected to get round to it, but I have recently read, and greatly enjoyed, one of my Christmas presents; The Taming of the Queen, by Philippa Gregory.
This story of the last wife of the much married monarch really interested me. 
I knew very little about her before - but I heard Philippa interviewed on the radio and decided the book would be a good read. It certainly was.
At school we were always told she had been widowed twice, and was the Queen who looked after the King in his old age, and nursed him and his bad leg, till he died.
My mental picture had been of a motherly, middle aged soul, ensuring his children were looked after, and fussing around with blankets and hot possets for her husband.
I hadn't realised she had been married [and widowed] very young, and was only 30 at the time of the Royal Betrothal. I did know she was well educated, and particularly knowledgeable about theology. A pious soul with a scholarly bent, she was the first woman to publish original work written in English under her own name [The Lamentation of a Sinner, 1547] Which is pretty amazing.

She married Thomas Seymour less than a year after the King's death - but somehow during the four years with the King, she seemed to escape the charges of adultery, and subsequent sentence of execution, brought against her predecessors, even though there seems to have been some sort of close friendship with Thomas. Young Princess Elizabeth lived in her household after her father's death, and KP [as the Queen called herself] was a great influence on the young woman.
Gregory's book deals with the relationship with Thomas, Katherine's theological studies and Protestant writings [again, a dangerous road to travel in Tudor times] and also the amazing portrait of Henry VIII and his family. This now hangs in Hampton Court - it shows the three children and the King- and the Queen by his side. But although Katherine was the model, the face superimposed is that of Jane Seymour, long dead [but Henry's 'true love'] 

I thought the book was clever - it was an easier read than Ms Mantel's Tudor epics, less wordy, and I know some reviewers have therefore been a bit sniffy about it. 

It left me wanting to find out more about KP, which is always a plus point. It is certainly the best PG I have read, so I don't care what others say, I give it ****


  1. She really was an intersting character. I don't know if you have read any of the CJ Sansom Shardlake novels but the most recent one - Lamentations - I think, is also about her. She came very close to the stake but as you say - somehow survived

    1. I have read all the Shardlake series. I should have mentioned Lamentations. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I, too, enjoyed reading the book. I agree with your rating of it.

  3. I too was interested in Katherine Parr after reading a book about her. She was indeed very learned!x

    1. Have a good weekend recovering from Ofsted, Kezzie x


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