The Queen’s Mistake: In the Court of Henry Vlll

Written by Diane Haeger
Review by Susan Higginbotham

Catherine Howard is living as a poor relation in her grandmother’s house, passing the dull days in dalliance with Francis Dereham, when her uncle Thomas Howard comes to call. His plan: to restore his standing with Henry VIII by dangling his beautiful niece before the unhappily married king. Soon Catherine heads to court, where she meets not only Henry, but his handsome courtier, Thomas Culpeper.

In The Queen’s Mistake, Haeger tells the very familiar tale of the unfortunate Catherine’s rise to queen and her fall from grace when her past catches up with her. Nonetheless, I found the story to be an absorbing one. Haeger’s characters, even her minor ones, have a certain depth that’s often lacking in novels that trod this well-traveled ground, and she handles the love affair between Catherine and Thomas Culpeper skillfully and sympathetically. Though some readers might be bothered by the frequent shifts in point of view, I found that the use of different perspectives added to the story and increased the sense of menace as the various court factions plot to advance themselves at the expense of young Catherine.

Though the Tudor court is a recognizable place in historical fiction, I found myself hoping that Haeger will spend more time there in the future.