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Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle's debut novel as Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, walks a fine line between passion and loyalty. Married to an aging king with a penchant for discarding wives, she must learn to navigate the often perilous intricacies, suspicions, and ambitions of a divided Tudor court. Though passionately in love with dashing courtier Thomas Seymour, Katherine shrewdly adapts to her new role, becoming a positive influence on Henry while arousing the ire of many of his advisors. Often fraught with danger, her ultimately successful balancing act earns her the title of the one who survived. This compulsively readable fictional biography of the ultimate survivor is infused with the type of meticulous attention to historical detailing that discerning fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory have come to expect in the Tudor canon.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Just when historical fiction fans were beginning to feel the dearth of new works, Fremantle fills the void with this outstanding debut novel that follows twice-widowed Katherine Parr as she falls in love with courtier Thomas Seymour but is compelled to marry King Henry VIII. The author manages to do something that few authors of historical fiction can: delve into the hopes, dreams, and desires of one of Henry's wives. Although not viewed as "ill-fated" by history because she survived her tempestuous royal marriage, Parr was a woman who struggled to live for herself and to make her mark on the world. The latter she hoped to accomplish by furthering church reforms, a dream that died when she almost found herself prisoner in the tower. VERDICT This guaranteed best seller will appeal not only to your die-hard Tudor buffs but also to readers who enjoy Hilary Mantel's novels about Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies). Be sure to include this on your summer must-read list. [See Prepub Alert, 12/2/12.]-Audrey Jones, Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Tudor women continue to rule historical fiction, as Fremantle demonstrates in her debut novel tracing Katherine Parr's passage from grieving widow to Henry VIII's sixth and last wife, the one who survives. Taking us into Katherine's mind and heart, Fremantle portrays a complex gentlewoman: decent, though willing to hasten her previous husband's demise; modest, though ready to throw herself into the arms of the man she adores; and intelligent, though blind to the machinations of the man in question, aristocratic playboy Thomas Seymour. At 31, daft with desire for Thomas, Katherine has no choice but accept the now aging, ungainly King's unwelcome marriage proposal. A reluctant queen in a court full of intrigue and potential enemies, she still manages to write a book, reconcile Henry to his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and champion Protestant reforms, all while maintaining a tenuous hold on the King's favor and a noticeably unabated attraction to Seymour. Fremantle details the dangers of 16th-century sexual politics while humanizing powerful women, including Katherine herself; clever, willful Elizabeth; and lonely, suspicious Mary. Even with invented characters-such as a gay royal physician/confidant, and a loyal commoner maid-Fremantle carves out no new literary territory, but like Katherine, she navigates Tudor terrain with aplomb. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.