Katherine of Argon – The True Queen by Alison Weir

Katherine of Argon – The True Queen by Alison Weir (Six Tudor Queens series)

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I am actually obsessed with anything to with The Tudors (it might be because one of my teachers at primary school looked exactly like Henry VIII, during the larger years, and then dressed up as him for non-uniform day).

In comparison to Anne Boleyn, I feel history has always portrayed the other five wives as dull or childish so I was looking forward to reading the Six Tudor Queen series.

Obviously everyone knows the story of Katherine of Argon – a Spanish princess married to Henry’s sickly older brother, Arthur, and once Arthur dies she then marries Henry. The country has always been Catholic and after several miscarriages and deceased children all Henry and Katherine have to show is their daughter Mary. Wanting a male heir and knowing that Katherine is no longer of child bearing age he turns his attentions elsewhere – namely Anne Boleyn.

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Desperate to marry Anne, Henry tries to say that his marriage to Katherine was never valid as she had already slept with his brother – however , he was too sickly to consummate anything. When this doesn’t work he reduces Katherine’s staff and sends her off to various decaying stately homes. He tries to convince parliament that the marriage was never valid and to be divorced it must be annulled by the Pope, who happens to be Katherine’s nephew. When the saga draws on and on Henry takes matters into his own hands, proclaims himself as head of the church and the country is then protestant. The stress and hurt causes Katherine to become ill and she sadly dies.

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Several things during this historical novel struck me, the time between the death of Arthur and the marriage between Katherine and Henry. I always assumed it was almost instantaneous however its some seven years but the delay is due to dowries and status in Katherine’s motherland.

In this version of events, Henry and Katherine are portrayed as deeply in love. In other interpretations she is shown as having more love for Arthur.

The length of time between Henry and Katherine separating and his marriage to Anne Boleyn – seven years in total is somewhat longer than I thought.

What really struck me is the determination and decorum Katherine shows even in her darkest days. Locked up in moulding houses at Henry’s orders she still loves him and will not have a bad word spoken about him. She could have easily said to the King’s men that yes the marriage was not binding and she would have saved herself being locked up, but for her own pride and the country’s she refuses to give in and refuses to be acknowledged by anything other than ‘Queen’.

She is portrayed as an incredibly brave woman, who’s faith gets her through and is a much more interesting character than I first thought.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty

Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty

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Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty seems to have been everywhere recently. Whilst I haven’t yet read Big Little Lies, by the same author, but I did watch the TV adaption and had really high hopes for Truly Madly Guilty.

Much like Big Little Lies there is an almighty build up to a significant event however we don’t know for most of the book what the event is and the reader has to surmise what has happened. Told from the view point of several friends who all reluctantly attend a barbeque, the novel takes a detailed look into the characters’ lives and thoughts.

Clementine and Sam have a seemingly perfect life with two young daughters, Holly and Ruby. Clementine is a musician but battles with her nerves and Sam isn’t thrilled at his new job. Clementine’s mother, Pam, is very present in their lives and plays the doting grandmother. She also acts as a mother figure to Clementine’s ‘best friend’ Erica. In the absence of her mother’s love and kindness due to mental health problems Erica was taken into Pam’s family from a teenager. Clementine has always felt loyalty to Erica however their friendship s strained as they feel it’s more of an obligation than a choice.

Then there’s Harry, an old man who thrives on complaining about anything and everything.

Tiffany and Vid hosts the barbeque and are an odd pairing. Tiffany, a former dancer and European rich man Vid have a daughter together.

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On the evening of the barbeque Eric is upset after overhearing Clementine saying how she doesn’t want to be a surrogate for her and has had too much to drink. Tiffany is about to perform an exotic dance for Sam while Clementine and Vid are laughing and watching on. But then Erica’s piercing scream shifts the mood which is darkened more when they see a pink coat lying in the fountain in the back garden. Ruby is wearing the pink coat. Oliver immediately performs CPR and Ruby is okay but friendships are broken as everyone blames themselves for not watching Ruby.

It turns out Harry was the one who alerted Erica to Ruby in the fountain. He runs down the stairs of his house to go next door and help however he falls and as he has no family or friends is left to die.

I love books that explore the characters’ thoughts and feelings and I am definitely going to read Big Little Lies. This is the perfect beach read.