The Taming of the Queen

Written by Philippa Gregory
Review by Arleigh Johnson

The post-Pilgrimage of Grace religious upheaval late in Henry VIII’s reign finds credence in another of Philippa Gregory’s prolific Tudor series. The protagonist in this story is Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of England’s most notoriously wedded monarch. While most readers know her fate, the author puts a spin on the tangle of rival factions and also describes the reasoning behind the madness of the King of England.

Though she was in love with another man—future Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour—twice-widowed Kateryn Parr accepted this third marriage because she had no choice in the matter. Once she’s accustomed to her new role as Queen of England, she discovers a love of scholarship and an interest in the reformed religion, giving her a goal to work toward instead of wallowing in her unhappiness over the unwanted union. She invites debaters and the newfangled preachers to her circle at court, gaining a reputation as a reformer, and unknowingly making many enemies who have the King’s ear. When she hosts a meeting with “The Faire Gospeller” Mistress Anne Askew, it sets off events that threaten the Queen’s very life.

Several characters, such as Thomas Seymour and Henry, the King, are presented in an entirely new light than other books in the genre. Others, such as Anne of Cleves, the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, and Will Somers are depicted similarly to their personalities in the author’s other Tudor novels, making them read seamlessly like a series.

Kateryn Parr was named Regent during Henry’s campaigning in France, influenced the Third Succession Act, and was the first English queen to publish under her own name. This novel beautifully exemplifies her accomplishments while portraying an honest and emotional woman learning to survive in a dangerous royal court.