Queen Katherine’s life of clothes, music and “constant partying” comes to an unpleasant end in Dunn’s (The Queen's Sorrow, 2008, etc.) latest historical.
As observed by her BFF Catheryn Tilney, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Kate Howard is a bit of a tramp. Although raised in a Catholic household, Kate was apparently only pretending to be a virgin on her wedding night and since becoming queen has taken a lover. Dunn’s account of 19-year-old Kate’s downfall in 16th-century England uses modern language and preoccupies itself with friendships, rivalries and, above all, sex. An overlong central flashback is devoted to Cat and Kate’s younger years living with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, which is where Kate became involved with Francis Dereham, later to be Cat’s lover and the first victim of Kate’s fall from royal grace, taken to the Tower for questioning about his early relationship with the queen. The novel’s drama is in its beginning and end, tracing Kate’s swift descent: questioned, stripped of her crown jewels, pressured to admit she was pre-contracted to Francis, which would have rendered her unavailable for the royal marriage, and eventually betrayed. A postscript offers the succinct facts and fates of the protagonists.
A sexually charged version of history angled toward a Gossip Girl audience.