By Carolly Erickson
St. Martin’s Press, $25.99, 291 pages
Carolly Erickson creatively tells the tale of how treacherous it was to be a wife of Henry VIII’s 1500’s England. In The Unfaithful Queen Catherine is a young girl living in her grandmother’s house. Her mother is dead and her father is a destitute Howard with only his name to show for his lineage – no wealth or lands. Catherine is wooed by several men but when the king sees her he is reminded of his great love, Jocasta and immediately befriends the young maiden. Catherine is integrated into the royal household and Henry VIII leaves his fourth wife to marry Catherine. Henry VIII is old, smelly and sick and Catherine continues to see her true love, Tom Culpeper. The royal court is littered with deceit, rivalry and struggle for power and Catherine is too young and naïve to realize the court is not loyal to her. Of course, a wife or lover to the king is only valued if she can produce a son, an heir to the throne. Catherine is unable to produce the heir which leads to disastrous results. The Unfaithful Queen reads as if Catherine is telling you a personal story. Erickson writes vividly and realistically and I was pulled in from page one. Readers will definitely get a sense of what the royal court might have been like under Henry VIII’s rein.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff