Book Review – Six Tudor Queens : VI, Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

Expected publication date, 13th May 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In this epic and beautifully written book, we learn the life story of the sixth wife of Henry VIII, Katharine Parr. I don’t know about you, but all I knew about her before opening this book was – she survived. Which, given the times she lived in and the man she married, was pretty good going, but I had no idea how much more there was to know.

Katharine Parr was born in 1512, four years before the birth of King Henry’s eldest daughter, Mary. In her thirty-six years of life, she married four times, and survived the machinations of a court, and indeed a nation, that was not quite ready for a woman to make any decisions over her own destiny. At a time of deep religious unrest, Katharine Parr coped with various poignant losses, awkward marriages, a nigh-on endless parade of stepchildren and the heartbreaking difficulties of bearing a child of her own.

The detail in the writing is just astonishing. I was completely enveloped in Katharine’s world. I was delighted by her highs, devastated by her lows, and lived every moment of the narrative.

My heart almost stopped when I realised how young high-born children were when promised to each other in marriage.

“The girls Elizabeth and congratulated her, but Aunt Mary forestalled them, raising her hand. ‘It is to be a double wedding,’ she said. ‘Magdalen, your father has found you a husband too.’
“As her sisters gasped, Magdalen went white. She loved her life at Rye House and Katharine knew that she regarded marriage as something that would happen far off in the future.
“‘Are you struck speechless, child?’ Aunt Mary asked.
“‘I am am-amazed,’ Magdalen stuttered.
“‘Don’t you want to know who the lucky bridegroom is?’ Mother smiled at her.
“‘He is Ralph Lane of Orlingbury in Northamptonshire,’ Aunt Mary said, without waiting for Magdalen to reply. ‘He is fourteen, just a year older than you, and he is set to inherit a fair Manor House with twenty rooms.’
P 16, Chapter Two, Six Tudor Queens: VI, Katharine Parr, The Sixth Queen by Alison Weir

I really should have studied history, but I think I’ve made a good start in finding this series. I’ll be sure to read the rest of them (in order) and return to Katharine as soon as possible.

Wonderful stuff.