The Unfaithful Queen opens with the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. Young and beautiful Catherine Howard is horrified as she watches her cousin’s execution, with no idea that she will one day catch the eye of the King and become his fifth wife. But Henry is ignorant of Catherine’s past, including affairs with three men, one of whom is Thomas Culpeper, a courtier. As Catherine struggles to provide the impotent, aging King with an heir, she also is desperate to hide her past relationships, and her continued relationship with Tom. And as Henry’s only heir, Prince Edward, battles a severe illness, the pressure only builds.
When Henry discovers her deception, Catherine must wait to learn her fate. Will she face the executioner, like her cousin, or will Henry have mercy on her?
Carolly Erickson’s novel provides an intriguing look into the private life of Henry VIII, and the turmoil that resulted from his marriage to young Catherine Howard. Though Henry’s behavior toward his many wives is despicable, Catherine’s behavior, especially her deception, makes it difficult to feel sorry for her. I found myself appalled by many of her decisions throughout the novel. That said, however, those intrigued by this particular monarch, and the history that surrounds him, will surely find this novel an engaging tale. For me, however, it wasn’t particularly satisfying.
Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between on her blog.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.