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Paperback The Fifth Queen Book

ISBN: 0307744914

ISBN13: 9780307744913

The Fifth Queen

(Part of the The Fifth Queen Series)

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Book Overview

Ford Madox Ford was a prolific English novelist and poet in the early 20th century. Ford wrote the best-selling novel The Good Soldier, as well as the Fifth Queen trilogy and the Parade's End series.... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

wise - not wanton

I'm a Henry VIII nut. I have quite a few books on him - from the recent historical fiction ones to old library tomes almost too dry to read. And I love historical fiction about England, particularly when the - what's the word I'm looking for? it's eluding me at the moment - their speech is true to form. This is not quick reading, and yet it seemed like the book was finished in nothing flat. It does for Katherine Howard's reputation what Sharon Kay Penman did for Richard III's and the twins in the tower (the antithesis of shakespear's play.) Who's to say what the truth is? Because history potrays Richard as a power hungry, murdering rogue (except for a sect of people these days who are out to clear his name), and Katherine (except in this book) has always been said to be a wanton and promiscuous woman. In The Fifth Queen, however, her character is wise and virtuous; but that Henry would have her as his wife, she'd have gone to a nunnery by choice. She believes strongly in the Catholic God and sees it as her mission to return Henry to Rome and to Catholocism and to persuade his daughter to reconcile with him. But she's too innocent and good-hearted for those at court, who are always thinking of themselves and what's to their best advantage. As restoration of the Catholic faith would re-instate to the church lands and riches previously taken, those who are Lutheran would be left without what they gained when Henry became head of church and state. So Katherine must be dispensed with by whatever means possible. Thus Ford's quite rational and lucid explanation for history's version of her background. It's no secret that Henry was "not such a one who {could} stay the wind," as she puts it, and indeed, throughout my readings, that seems the essence of him: big and powerful on the outside, small and unsure on the inside; a man who has the power to get what he wants when he wants it, but best walk softly because he may change his mind tomorrow. Mercurial at best. I wonder if he'd be on prozac these days? He's under the impression he's saved her and now they'll be together, but he's missed the irony of what he's put forth and arranged. Her speech in the final pages of the book is moving and borne of a wisdom you'd be hard pressed to find today, especially in one so young. On an entirely different note, she was apparently beautiful. But have you ever noticed the paintings from that era? Check out the paintings of her - and his other wives by various artists. There doesn't seem much difference in the attractiveness of Anne of Cleves, Catherine of Aragon, Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, for instance. And Hans Holbein, who did quite a number of portraits of royal family members, was supposed to be the finest painter - and easy to belive that. His portrait of her is far superior to any of the others (not the miniature that is apparently actually Jane Seymour's sister), and Cromwell and Moore practically jump off the canvas. I dunno.

Intrigue and romance in the court of Henry VIII

Intrigue and romance in the court of Henry VIIIKatherine Howard, armed only with education, wit and honesty, becomes the Fifth Queen, Henry VIII's fifth wife in this amazing historical trilogy. The plot-ridden court comes to vivid life as everyone high and low maneuvers for advantage. Everyone except Katherine Howard, whose unwillingness to scheme will make her queen and defenseless at the same moment. Even knowing the general story this is a fascinating and occasionally shocking novel, with a stunning ending...

A New Spin on an Old Queen!

Fans of Tudor history will enjoy this meaty volume which delivers a very different take on the life of Queen Katherine Howard...she is hardly the hysterical and promiscuous girl so often depicted. Especially interesting characterizations of "Bloody" Mary Tudor and Henry VIII, as well. Strictly for fans of the subject, however, or otherwise tedious reading.

A Parable

Ford Madox Ford's "The Fifth Queen" - actually a collection of three separate novels - is a fictionalized account of the fifth wife of England's Henry VIII, Katharine Howard. As A.S. Byatt explains in her Introduction, "This figure bears little relation to what we have about the real Katharine . . ." and thus the reader should be conscious that Ford's Katharine - a young, pretty, pious woman who yearns for a return to Catholicism after Henry's split with Rome - is strictly fictional. That said, the only real failure of this work is that Katharine is the least appealing, least interesting character; we first meet her as a dispossessed ingenue seeking entrance to Henry's court around the time of his disasterous fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves, and it is this description which will follow her throughout the book. Even as she becomes Queen, it is almost by accident, surviving the machinations of Cromwell, Lord Privy Seal and the recklessness of her devoted cousin Culpepper. She is Queen by default. She constantly protests that all she seeks is a Catholic England - the "old ways" - and yet throughout she resigns herself to letting events happen to her, as if she cannot control the consequences of her own life. Indeed, her final speech to Henry where she confesses to an adultery which did not occur, becomes her last fatal act of passivity, for which she pays with her life. She cannot see that there are those who wish to help her and that her naive, narcissistic piety does not have to be her ruin. What holds these novels together is the rich supporting cast: the aforementioned Cromwell, who has his own sovereign Protestant image of England, free from the entanglements of Rome. There is the brooding Princess Mary, Henry's daughter by his first wife, who knows how to carry a grudge for her mother's divorce, the super-spy Throckmorton, the lecherous Magister Udal and more. Ford uses Katharine to show that the blind commitment to an ideal - any ideal - will only result in failure, that this world is more than ideas and faiths, but of people who are imperfect, people who will fail. It is a world five hundred years in the past, but it is also our own.
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