Queen's Gambit: Sometimes it’s NOT Good to be the Queen

Not long ago, I overdosed on Tudor books, films, and shows.  There was a ton of it out there, and not all of it good.  Then, on a cold January day, I visited Hampton Court Palace.  Very few people were there, and I slowly rambled around the palace, often alone (well….except for the staff who had to politely ask me to leave at closing time).  It was seriously one of the most magical days I have spent.  Of course, it also helped that my husband and boys were not there constantly badgering me with, “This is boring, can we go now?”  (I still love you guys!)

That day rekindled my interest in the Tudors, and I have slowly dipped my toe back into the sea of Tudor-related books and films.  Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle was an excellent way to start. The book follows Katherine Parr’s marriage to King Henry VIII, and after Henry’s death, her marriage to Thomas Seymour.  As Henry’s sixth wife, Katherine knew her position as queen was precarious.  She did not want to marry him, but once he set his eyes to her, she had no choice.

Katherine Parr has always been my favorite of Henry’s six queens.  She was undoubtedly very smart and charming.  She learned from the mistakes of her predecessors, and successfully navigated the religious and political court intrigues.  This was made even more difficult because Henry’s Catholic advisors had her on their hit list due to her Protestant beliefs.  Fremantle has done an excellent job of showing us a strong and brave Queen.

It is sad to me that she survived her marriage to Henry, only to be betrayed by the man she truly loved and die in childbirth.  She deserved so much better than that.

I also liked that along with Katherine’s story, we get points of view from those around her:  her physician, her step-daughter, and her servant.  Their stories are also intriguing and give a better understanding of life in those times.

Georgina Sutton’s narration is very good, and added to my enjoyment of the story.  She is passionate without being over-the-top.  She captured Katherine’s voice very well.

After finishing this book, I added Fremantle’s other titles to my wishlist.  Looks like I am back into Tudor territory for a while.


Book:  Queen’s Gambit
Author:  Elizabeth Fremantle
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster Audio
Date Published:  August 6, 2013
Narrator:  Georgina Sutton
Overall:  B+
Story:  B+
Performance:  A
Source:  Audible (my own collection)