Friday, November 13, 2015

The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

" 'He's coming for you,' is all she says. 'This is how he always does it.  He's coming for you, Kat, and I don't know how to save you.  I'm packing Bibles and I'm burning papers, but they know you have been reading and writing, and they are changing the law ahead of me.  I can't make sure you obey the law because they are changing it faster than we can obey.' "

I first fell in love with Philippa Greogry after reading The Other Boleyn Girl' about four years ago and have since read pretty much everything she has written...except her earlier and more contemporary novels.  I haven't read any of those yet and don't know that I will.  I just finished reading 'The King's Curse' - which was marketed as the sixth of her Cousins' War novels, but which also serves as somewhat of a prequel to her Tutor Court novels as well.  It was a really interesting transition and I'm glad that I waited awhile to read this so that I could start it right after finishing 'The King's Curse.'

This novel - technically the fourth in the Tutor's Court series - follows Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, Kateryn Parr from right before her marriage to the King up until his death in almost four years later 1547.  Even though I have read a lot about Tutor history, I did not know much about Kateryn Parr before reading this book.  I under the impression that she was not in danger from the King and I was surprised how close to death she became.  One has to wonder, if Henry VIII had lived longer, if he would have changed his mind - yet again - and set her aside to marry a new queen...or even ordered her to be put to death.  

A central theme in this novel was the reformation of the English church.  I don't know much about this topic, so I'm not exactly sure if everything was accurate or not, but I was really interested to read more about the history of the Church of England.  I had previously thought that the change in believes were focused on Henry VIII being able to divorce his second wife, Anne Boleyn in order to remarry.  Although this was a factor, the novel went into much greater detail of the many changes that the reformers wanted to see in England to convert back to a more truer religion that better represented God's teachings.  It was fascinating to read about a women who was so instrumental in the events that took place and had thoughts and ideas of her own that were among some of the first to be published by a women.  

I greatly enjoyed this book, but I've come to a conclusion that Philippa Gregory's books aren't at great as I once thought they were.  I'm not sure if her writing has changed or if it is mearly that I have grown as a reader.  Sometimes I feel like a lot of her characters blend together and aspects or dialogue is repeated - but I suppose that's what happens when writing one novel after another set in similar historical periods and place.  I usually find myself taking awhile to get into one of her new novels, but once I do I finish it in a few days.  I still love reading her books and was really interested in new characters amongst those mentioned in her previous novels.  She has a knack for taking lesser-known women in history and crafting engaging characters and story lines set in the historical backdrop of some of the most interesting time periods of history.

I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next...

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