Friday, June 25, 2010

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

All of the court looks different to me now, somehow both clearer and more confusing than it appeared when this year began. Henry is besieged by those who undoubtedly would do him ill if it would benefit them to do so. During dinner I see him conferring with Edward Seymour, and the sight of it nearly knocks the wind out of me. I scan the faces before us and imagine in each of them a unique self-interest, a unique abuse or destruction of our king in the name of God or family or the true church- whatever that church may be. And I know, now, that I am no way different from any of them.
This is the story of Catherine. Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of king Henry of England, Father of the infamous Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. This is her story. Catherine is just a common girl. A beautiful, young girl who happens to be a Howard. Who happens to be a pawn in the most dangerous game. She's not who she says she is- she's acting. It's all just an act. Just a part Catherine has to play, or risk her life. If she isn't who she is supposed to be- if she isn't Catherine the virgin. Catherine the rose without thorns. Catherine the queen, she is "Catherine the dead". When Catherine (For the good of the country) commits treason against her husband, things start happening that are out of her control, but for the first time she can be her. She doesn't have to act anything.
There is so little that I understand about this life- I wonder if I am the only one who feels so lost. We are all merely wandering down a road, in single file. We are not sure where this path will lead us. We do not know when we are walking headfirst into darkness. We are not sure when, or if, the sun will shine again.
I thought this book was very well written. I don't usually enjoy romances- this was a romance, and I liked it. I don't usually like books written in the present tense- this one was written in present tense and it didn't irritate me. I enjoyed Catherine. I could sympathize with her, and just the fact that she has so many faults makes her human. She was a good main character. I would give this book four and a half stars, but leave that it has a huge amount of romance.
This was a different Catherine who received these letters, who responded to that kiss- since then I have been transformed by the king's eyes, by the royal jewels around my neck and a cloth-of-gold gown... but who is the real Catherine: the shadow or the light? The smoke or the flame?

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