When young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of fifty year old king Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her destruction. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart's desire in favor of her family's ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who seek to bring her down a most effective weapon, her own romantic past.
The Queen's Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigues of the court and the yearnings of her own heart. excerpt taken from Diane Haeger's website.
When I started reading this book, The Queen's Mistake, I was not sure if I was going to like it or not. I enjoy the Tudor era but my reading has been mostly focused on Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon. I had not read many books about the other wives of Henry VIII. But as I was reading I found that even though this was another wife that " lost her head" I really sympathized with her. As with her cousin Anne, her future was pretty much all planned out for her by her greedy uncle Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk for his political aspirations. She also had a grandmother Agnes Howard, the Dowager Duchess, who aspired to the same goals as Thomas, that of seeing that there was another Howard on the throne and . Catherine is sent to be a lady-in-waiting to the court of Queen Anne of Cleves . In the meantime Henry is trying to get his marriage annulled due to the fact that their marriage was never consummated and he could not stand being married to her. Queen Anne of Cleves is portrayed as a very pleasant woman who has her language barrier and her looks going against her as far as the King is concerned.
I think Catherine's biggest downfall was the fact that she was too free with her 'charms' with the men in the town she came from and she did not realize that her 'little lie" would be found out. She was not a virgin when she came to the marriage bed with Henry and he was too 'in love" to notice this little lie. I really think that she didn't really realize until too late that her past was coming back to haunt her marriage to Henry and she was torn between doing the right thing, according to her uncle and grandmother or go with her heart and the love she has for another man , Thomas Culpepper, who was a trusted person in Henry's mind.
Catherine did what was expected of her and tried to make the marriage work and she stayed faithful to Henry and also suffered a couple of miscarriages. Then when she tried to save an old woman in the tower and argued with Henry about this he had the woman put to death anyway.This showed her what kind of a man Henry really was.
The plot to discredit Catherine came from a vindictive woman, Mary Lassells one of her maids, who was actually forced on Catherine by her grandmother. Mary was a vindictive, jealous,woman who would do anything, along with her brother, to further her own ambitions and she had knowledge of Catherine's past indescretions and will use it against Catherine. Mary also became real close to Francis Dereham who claimed that he and Catherine were still trothplighted and he used that to further his ambitions and Henry used this detail to have his marriage to Catherine annuled.
Even though I knew what the outcome was going to be, I really liked Catherine and hoped all would be well in the end, that she could be with the love of her life, but that would have been a happy ending but it appears that there were no happy endings for Henry or anyone associated with him . Catherine really had no choice but agree to marry Henry, a bloated, ageing king desperate to recapture his youth and avoid life's inevitable decay and also to father a son for the throne. I think that in the short marriage that Catherine really came to care for Henry and genuinely wanted to make him happy.
I did have trouble trying to figure out Jane Boleyns role in this whole thing. I got the impression at first that she did not like Catherine, but turns out that she became Catherine's confidant and assisted in her liason's with Thomas. I am sure that Jane thought that befriending Catherine would obsolve her in her participation in the downfall of her husband George and of Anne with her accusations that were untrue.
I am not a historian, so I won't presume to say that this novel was based on facts as it is just that, a novel, a work of fiction. I felt that this story was well written and I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Tudor era...I look forward to reading more of Diane Haegers books.