cover image The Confession of Katherine Howard

The Confession of Katherine Howard

Suzannah Dunn, Harper, $14.99 trade paper (308p) ISBN 978-0-06-201147-3

A historically obscure lady-in-waiting provides a window into the rise and fall of Henry VIII's young fifth queen in the competent latest from Dunn (The Sixth Wife). The teenage Cat Tilney is raised in the company of the attractive and sexually precocious Katherine Howard in the household of a distant relation, the well-connected dowager duchess of Norfolk. Cat becomes Katherine's confidante and eventually follows her to court when she is made queen, and, as one of the few privy to the queen's secret affairs, Cat lands in a dangerous position when Katherine's romantic history becomes known and a ruthless investigation spreads to include Cat's own lover, Francis Dereham. Working from only a few references in the surviving records of the investigation, Dunn constructs the tale of a teenage girl in thrall to a more charismatic friend and the test of her loyalty. Though Dunn's modernization of the language can result in anachronistic turns of phrase, this is a convincing portrayal of young women made pawns in the dangerous politics of the Tudor court. (Apr.)