Summary: When the young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of the fifty-year-old King Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her undoing. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart’s desire in favor of her family’s ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who sought to bring her down a most effective weapon—her own romantic past.
The Queen’s Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigue of the court and the yearnings of her heart. -- NAL
I know I'm not alone when I say that I don't know if I can ever get enough of historical fiction books about King Henry VIII. I just find him completely and utterly fascinating, and it seems like everyone who surrounded him was very interesting as well. The latest book that I enjoyed is THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE: IN THE COURT OF HENRY VIII by Diane Haeger. This novel takes a different perspective of King Henry's court because it is about Catherine Howard, the King's fifth wife.
What I most enjoyed about this book was the development of Catherine's character. When the book begins, she is just a teenage girl living with her grandmother. She already realizes that her beauty gives her a certain power over boys/men; and she's not afraid to use it. I have to admit that I didn't really like Catherine for a major portion of the book, but I still found her interesting. I thought she was selfish and kind of immoral (she did like her men!); however, I could almost understand why she was the way she was. She never really had much say in her life, and she really was a pawn for her family members to use to gain power. Her story was almost pitiful in that she never had a chance to be her own person.
And even though Catherine wasn't my favorite character, I still came to appreciate her. Her life definitely made for an interesting story; and I eventually came to almost like her (or at least feel sorry for her.) I really did want things to work out for her (of course, I knew how they ended); and I just hoped she could find some happiness in an otherwise pretty bleak existence. Just think, she was a young girl when she had to marry the 50 year old king (by this time, he was obese and rather stinky.) She also had many enemies at court so she didn't even know who she could really trust. It was a lot for a young woman to have to handle; and although she was constantly surrounded by people, she was really quite lonely. She didn't even have any friends to commiserate with.
I loved learning Catherine's story, and I always enjoy reading about the antics at King Henry VIII's court. I thought Ms. Haeger did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life, and I appreciate all of her descriptions of the court, clothes, and locales. It's obvious to me that the author did a tremendous amount of research while writing this story. However, I felt that what made THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE special was the love story between Catherine and Thomas. The love scenes were both touching and at the same time filled with passion. I think that Catherine found her soul mate in Thomas, and he was one of the only people in her life that she felt close to. While her relationship with Thomas eventually proved to be her perhaps her biggest (and most fatal) mistake, I'm not sure that Catherine would look at it that way.
THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE would make a very good book club pick especially if your group enjoys reading and talking about historical fiction. I found Catherine's character to be very interesting and definitely discussion worthy. There are discussion questions in the back of the book which will also help facilitate your meeting (I couldn't find a link). Some of the topics for discussion include Catherine's various choices as well as the role of religion in this book.
Make sure you stop by tomorrow because I will be posting a Q&A with Ms. Haeger. And, I'll be giving away some copies of THE QUEEN'S MISTAKE!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.