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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The King's Secret Matter by Jean Plaidy

This is a sympathetic portrayal of Catherine of Aragon who suffered so much at the hands of Henry VIII. Plaidy paints a vivid picture of the splendour of Henry's court and the life that Catherine is forced to endure after her downfall.

Catherine is depicted as proud and determined to fight for her daughter's legitimacy. She is a very loving wife and mother, and remains very fond of Henry even when he subjects her to great trials. She is, perhaps, shown as a little bit too saintly, but Plaidy does an excellent job of making the reader feel very sorry for her.

Plaidy's character analysis of Henry is also excellent. He could be kind and loving, but quickly change to being nasty. His mercurial nature must have been extremely frightening! Henry was capable of turning against people very quickly, and the fear of death became ever-present for those close to him.

Plaidy also wrote well about Wolsey, but I got a bit tired of reading about him. He wasn't a very likeable character, and I wasn't especially interested in reading about his thoughts. Plaidy probably thought that this made the story clearer, but I am not sure that it was necessary.

I enjoyed this book and thought that it was one of Plaidy's better novels. The story is depressing and the reader knows that at the start. This probably made the novel even harder to write because many readers like happy endings. This book is worth reading if you like historical novels set in Tudor times.

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