Monday 24 August 2015

Review ~ The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Simon & Schuster
August 2015

In The Taming of the Queen, Philippa Gregory succeeds in bringing the latter years of the Henrician court to vibrant life. Kateryn is depicted as a fiercely intelligent woman, deeply devout, with a real sense of family, offering a safe and loving pair of hands to Henry's bewildered children. On the other hand, Henry is portrayed as an irascible, gargantuan monster, who manipulates and controls everyone around him, and whose psychopathic tendencies are all too often disguised under a mask of benign indifference. I felt huge sympathy for Kateryn, to be at the whim and mercy of such an irritable monster, and no matter how disguised or how feted with fine clothes and rich jewels, she must have been, during her four years with Henry, constantly in fear of her life. I can’t begin to image how scary life at court must have been for her, to live alongside Henry, as she did, and to share in his daily life, and to be completely at his mercy.

As always, with a new Philippa Gregory novel, I want to read until my eyes ache and I always have a real reluctance to put the story down until it is finished. Everything is well explained, the places and its people are so beautifully depicted that Tudor life really does come gloriously alive. I think the author has done an excellent job in bringing Kateryn's precarious position to life and her abiding love for Thomas Seymour is sensitively handled.  Kateryn's religious fervour comes across well and it's terrifying to imagine just how fine a line she crossed when she attempted to translate God's word into English, when to do so, however discreetly, was tantamount to being branded a heretic. The aging Henry doesn’t come across as having any redeemable qualities and to be subjected to the whims and fancies of such a tyrant must have been terrifying for anyone who ever crossed him.

The Taming of the Queen is beautifully written and works exceptionally well as standalone historical fiction. It also forms a really good continuation of this author’s very successful Tudor Court series of historical novels.

Philippa Gregory
Twitter @PhilippaGBooks



  1. A wonderful review as always, Jo! As soon as I saw on your blog that there was a new Philippa Gregory, I downloaded it, and didn't get to bed until I had finished it last night. Kateryn comes over as such a warm and intelligent character, and as you say, Henry as a monster.

    I recently read C J Sansom's Shardlake book covering the same period, Lamentation, and it's fascinating to compare the similarities and differences between the two books. Obviously they are written from different points of view. Gregory makes you feel as if you have an intimate insight into the workings of the glittering court, while Sansom plunges you into the noises, smells and struggle of everyday life. A rich and fascinating period!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Hilary - knew you wouldn't be long in downloading it !
      Yes, I have read Lamentation- it's reviewed on the blog

      Thanks for visiting :)


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