The Confession of Katherine Howard
Harper, Apr 5 2011, $14.00
In childhood, Catherine Tilney and Katherine Howard became best friends when both were wards of the Duchess of Norfolk. They remain close through their teen years as their families ignore them. Katherine falls in love with Francis Dereham. However, King Henry VIII makes the teenager his fifth wife. However, her time as queen is short because of accusations that she had an arrangement with Dereham prior to marrying the king; her best friend, a lady in waiting, is also considered for execution due to guilt by association.
The Confession of Katherine Howard is made fresh by Catherine, as the narrator Tilney provides a unique perspective that in many ways turns the exciting story line into her tale as she paints a picture of her friend as being intelligent rather than an inane flirt. In order for Howard to have achieved what she did in a man’s world where she was abandoned as a child, she would have needed some smarts. Ironically what beheaded her was her childhood attraction to Francis Dereham, which no evidence supported the contention that this continued as an adult but was used as if it was alive during her marriage to the king. Although the wives of Henry have been featured in many biographical fictions including by Suzannah Dunn (see The Queen of Subtleties, The Sixth Wife and The Queen’s Sorrow; and The King’s Rose by Alissa Libby), this is a unique look at a woman unfairly judged during her life and since; perhaps Hnetry in his gut knew as he aged rapidly after her beheading.