Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Published: 2013

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 407 pages of text, 424 total pages with references

Setting: England, 1543-1549

Interest: It was looking for a Q-titled book and found this one. I do enjoy a good historical fiction on occasion.

Summary: Katherine Parr has just buried her second husband. She’s called back to court to attend Lady Mary (the King’s daughter by a previous marriage). While at court, she catches the King’s eye. Although she has other desires (namely Thomas Seymour), you don’t say no to the King. They are married and Katherine embarks on a life trying to keep the King’s fickle attention. It’s made harder when the King can’t make up his mind about religion – is he going to support reformation, like Katherine does, or go back to the Catholic church. She survives the King, but makes a mistake in marrying Thomas Seymour.

Final thoughts: I was captivated by Katherine. She always seemed to present just the right public face needed in a situation. The only problem was that meant she could never be herself. She tried to influence the King to promote reformation, and it almost sent her to the Tower. She kept her head, but also had to keep her tongue. It would be so hard to always, always have to play a part.

I was also so disappointed in how Seymour turned out. I thought Katherine would finally get her chance at an enjoyable marriage, but no. Seymour seemed to love Katherine, but he really just loved the power she represented. And then she finally has a baby to love, and dies in childbed. She survived the King, but her life afterwards wasn’t much better.

The book was a great story about the politics of life at court and the changeable nature of King Henry. I appreciated the fact that all the main characters and major events actually happened. Fremantle just created a story around the known events of the court.

Title comes from: A chess move Katherine uses once when playing the King.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 91/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a Q in my Alphabet Soup Title challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or subtitle to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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