Well! This is a VERY thrilling (and generous! Thank you, Ballantine Books!) giveaway! The final book in Alison Weir’s Tudor Queen series, Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife, has just come out in paperback and we are giving away ALL SIX books! We’re also throwing in a copy of her newest title, The Last White Rose, about Elizabeth of York, so we’re getting some Plantagenets in there. I must confess that I love these books and can’t wait to dive into this new one. They are:
A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage—and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner.
Katherine’s patience is rewarded when she becomes Queen of England. The affection between Katherine and Henry is genuine, but forces beyond her control threaten to rend her marriage, and indeed the nation, apart. Henry has fallen under the spell of Katherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Now Katherine must be prepared to fight, to the end if God wills it, for her faith, her legitimacy, and her heart.
Born into a noble English family, Anne is barely a teenager when she is sent from her family’s Hever Castle to serve at the royal court of the Netherlands. This strategic move on the part of her opportunistic father also becomes a chance for the girl to grow and discover herself. There, and later in France, Anne thrives, preferring to absorb the works of progressive writers rather than participate in courtly flirtations. She also begins to understand the inequalities and indignities suffered by her gender.
Anne isn’t completely inured to the longings of the heart, but her powerful family has ambitious plans for her future that override any wishes of her own. When the King of England himself, Henry VIII, asks Anne to be his mistress, she spurns his advances—reminding him that he is a married man who has already conducted an affair with her sister, Mary. Anne’s rejection only intensifies Henry’s pursuit, but in the absence of a male heir—and given an aging Queen Katherine—the opportunity to elevate and protect the Boleyn family, and to exact vengeance on her envious detractors, is too tempting for Anne to resist, even as it proves to be her undoing.
While history tells of how Anne Boleyn died, this compelling new novel reveals how fully she lived.
Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a haunting incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.
But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures Anne as his new queen—forever altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son, or will she be cast aside like the women who came before her?
Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Alison Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renowned court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it.
Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to ensure the royal succession. Forty-six, overweight, and suffering from gout, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses. Anna of Kleve, from a small German duchy, is twenty-four, and has a secret she is desperate to keep hidden. Henry commissions her portrait from his court painter, who depicts her from the most flattering perspective. Entranced by the lovely image, Henry is bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. Some think her attractive, but Henry knows he can never love her.
What follows is the fascinating story of an awkward royal union that somehow had to be terminated. Even as Henry begins to warm to his new wife and share her bed, his attention is captivated by one of her maids-of-honor. Will he accuse Anna of adultery as he did Queen Anne Boleyn, and send her to the scaffold? Or will he divorce her and send her home in disgrace? Alison Weir takes a fresh and astonishing look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone and fearing for her life in a royal court that rejected her almost from the day she set foot on England’s shore.
(I feel like the weight and the gout might not have been as much of a problem for his martial prospects as the part where he’d started a whole new religion to divorce one woman, then murdered the woman he divorced her for so he could marry someone else, tbh!!!!)
In the spring of 1540, Henry VIII is desperate to be rid of his unappealing German queen, Anna of Kleve. A prematurely aged and ailing forty-nine, with an ever-growing waistline, he casts an amorous eye on a pretty nineteen-year-old brunette, Katheryn Howard. Like her cousin Anne Boleyn, Katheryn is a niece of the Duke of Norfolk, England’s premier Catholic peer, who is scheming to replace Anna of Kleve with a good Catholic queen. A flirtatious, eager participant in the life of the royal court, Katheryn readily succumbs to the king’s attentions when she is intentionally pushed into his path by her ambitious family.
Henry quickly becomes besotted and is soon laying siege to Katheryn’s virtue. But as instructed by her relations, she holds out for marriage and the wedding takes place a mere fortnight after the king’s union to Anna is annulled. Henry tells the world his new bride is a rose without a thorn, and extols her beauty and her virtue, while Katheryn delights in the pleasures of being queen and the rich gifts her adoring husband showers upon her: the gorgeous gowns, the exquisite jewels, and the darling lap-dogs. She comes to love the ailing, obese king, enduring his nightly embraces with fortitude and kindness. If she can bear him a son, her triumph will be complete. But Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing, and which comes back increasingly to haunt her—even as she courts danger yet again. What happens next to this naïve and much-wronged girl is one of the saddest chapters in English history.
“Having sent his much-beloved but deceitful young wife Katheryn Howard to her beheading, King Henry fixes his lonely eyes on a more mature woman, thirty-year-old, twice-widowed Katharine Parr. She, however, is in love with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother to the late Queen Jane. Aware of his rival, Henry sends him abroad, leaving Katharine no choice but to become Henry’s sixth queen in 1543. The king is no longer in any condition to father a child, but Katharine is content to mother his three children, Mary, Elizabeth, and the longed-for male heir, Edward.
Four years into the marriage, Henry dies, leaving England’s throne to nine-year-old Edward—a puppet in the hands of ruthlessly ambitious royal courtiers—and Katharine’s life takes a more complicated turn. Thrilled at this renewed opportunity to wed her first love, Katharine doesn’t realize that Sir Thomas now sees her as a mere stepping stone to the throne, his eye actually set on bedding and wedding fourteen-year-old Elizabeth. The princess is innocently flattered by his attentions, allowing him into her bedroom, to the shock of her household. The result is a tangled tale of love and a struggle for power, bringing to a close the dramatic and violent reign of Henry VIII.”
That man was a HANDFUL. We have one dishy set to give away!
THE TASK: As usual, I’ll be picking the winner at random. To enter, please answer the following question: By magic, you shall be time-travelled and body-swapped into the corporeal form of one of Henry VIII’s wives during their lifetime. This swap will happen at some point during their courtship or marriage to Henry, but you do not know when precisely — with the very important caveat that you will not be there for the exact moment of their death (or things get very complicated in swapping you back). You will spend three days in this body, and they will spend three days in yours. WHO DO YOU SWITCH WITH? (Like, for example, Anne might be thrilling but what chaos is she gonna cause while you’re out?! It might be worth it though!)
THE RULES: All entries must be posted in the comments of this post by 9 p.m. Pacific time on Friday. FYI, if this is the first time you’ve commented here, the system will automatically kick you into comment moderation, but don’t worry, I will rescue you. (Open to US readers only; all prizing courtesy of the publisher. We use affiliate links, like those to Amazon.)