Alison Weir is a best-selling author and historian, focusing mainly on Tudor's history. Weir's nonfiction is top-tier with biographies like The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Life of Elizabeth I. Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife is Weir's next foray into historical fiction. Book six of the "Six Tudor Queens" ends with Henry's last wife, Katherine Parr. Parr was the oldest of Henry's queens and possibly the best-fitted for the mercurial king. Her patience and maturity were much needed in Henry's life after his many romantic encounters.
The novel begins with Katherine's childhood, bringing forth facts about her upbringing and melding them with fictional drama. Weir takes us on a journey from Parr's marriage to Henry after his death. The story gives us an imagines look into what life might have been like for Katherine after being chosen as Henry VIII's final wife. The tumultuous and violent reign of the Tudor king must have frightened Katherine. One wrong move could have meant the death of Parr.
'"Katharine was five when death cast its black shadow over her life. It was a terrible time of fear and grief when the dread plague known as the sweating sickness ravaged London" (Weir).
Weir's talent with reviving the past is prevalent in Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife. Like her biographies, the book presents the truth. However, Alison Weir's fictional writing is not as compelling as her nonfiction. The novel checks off the necessary items on the list: drama, love, and deceit. Despite following the rules, the author falls short. Weir's creative writing feels similar to her historical nonfiction. The words feel cold and flat, lacking a specific voice and style.
I enjoyed the novel, but not as much as Weir's biographies. I wanted more passionate writing and less historical facts. Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife, reads more like an essay on the Tudor queen than an exciting tale of a girl turned queen. Parr's life was exciting, but unfortunately, she was not as fascinating as her predecessors. Perhaps that is why the novel feels strained and monotonous. That being said, I look forward to what Alison Weir has in store for the future.
Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife A Novel By Alison Weir is due to be released on May 11, 2021.
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