THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE
Fans of the TV series The Tudors
will find Haeger's fictionalized biography fascinating and accurate. Was Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, an empty-headed wanton, a
political pawn or Henry's sweet rose without thorns? Haegar presents a
compassionate, well-rounded portrayal
of the ill-fated queen as all three. To those versed in Tudor history there
is nothing new, but for those just uncovering the era it is a tale well
told by a master.
Like her cousin Anne Boleyn, Catherine is a beautiful, vivacious girl sent to court by her powerful uncle and his Catholic allies to win Henry's heart. Middle-aged, fat and suffering from a festering leg wound, Henry seeks youth and beauty. Raised in the country by her permissive grandmother Catherine is a flirtatious young girl ill prepared for what awaits.
She is dazzled by court life, but her inexperience leads her to trust Lady Rochford (George Boleyn's widow), and her heart leads her to fall in love with men closer to her age, even as she catches Henry's eye. Too young and naïve to understand the dangers of her indiscretions, Catherine walks a perilous path when she becomes queen. Her mistakes and her passions bring her to a heartbreaking end. (NAL, Oct., 416 pp., $15.00)