This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Review: The Sixth Wife

The Sixth Wife, Jean Plaidy
4 roses

I am a huge Jean Plaidy fan; I read all I can get! I just really enjoy the good research and clean writing in her books and this novel about Henry VIII's sixth and final wife is no exception.

While many other Tudor books cover Katherine Parr and her role in Princess Elizabeth's life, none of them truly focus just on Katherine in any believable way. This one does that and I think that is why this is probably my favorite book (so far) about Henry VIII's last queen. Plaidy's novel really shows Katherine as an intelligent and attractive woman, desperately in love with Thomas Seymour, but a woman who knows there is no way to say no to the King. Through Plaidy's wonderful writing you really see how stressful Katherine's life was while married to Henry, having to deal with the extreme fickleness of his affections and constantly feeling as if the sword was just waiting at the back of her neck. Queen Katherine was also interested in the New Learning and so became a target for Catholics hoping to bring the religion back to England. The depth of the scheming her enemies went to in order to bring her down are covered in this book and it is amazing (and a bit of good luck) that she was able to survive their attempts. Plaidy's writing really brings the Tudor court alive with the perfect details of everyday life along with all the intrigue and political and religious turmoil of the time; it was easy to feel the stress the Queen was under every day of her marriage. We also see in this novel how much of a mother Katherine became to Henry's youngest children Edward and Elizabeth as well as to Jane Grey. Even once Henry is dead and she is married to Thomas Seymour she can't have a happy life as she eventually realizes that her husband is after the Princess Elizabeth. Again, Plaidy's exceptional writing shines through and you can really feel the grief and sadness Katherine dealt with at the hands of Seymour.

Some of Plaidy's novels can be a bit dry but this one does not fall into that category. The writing is wonderful and full of emotion. The dialogue does not seem entirely modern but she doesn't pepper her story with medieval phrases. Her research is impeccable and she is masterful at weaving it into a moving story. All of the major players at the Tudor court are here in the novel, Henry, the Seymours, Prince Edward, Princess Elizabeth, Wriothesley, etc, and they are portrayed fairly and accurately but the novel is very much focused on Katherine and how she interacts with these various people. I would certainly suggest this novel to Tudor lovers and Plaidy lovers. I also believe it would be a good read for the reader casually interested in this time period as you will get an exceptionally written story full of emotion but very good historical details as well.


  1. This is one that I haven't read yet - sounds like a good one!

  2. Thanks for the review! It sounds like a good book all around :)

  3. I have this book in my small collection of Plaidy's that I am hopeing to get to sometime soon! Thanks for the positive review.