cover image The Unfaithful Queen

The Unfaithful Queen

Carolly Erickson. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-59691-0

Coming five years after The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and one year after the third’s story (The Favored Queen), Erickson now examines Catherine Howard, queen number five to mercurial Henry Tudor. While at Horsham under her grandmother Agnes’s care, Catherine has relationships with Henry Manox, her music teacher, and Francis Dereham, a pensioner in her grandmother’s house. But it’s not until Catherine becomes a maid of honor to the new queen, Anna, that she meets Tom Culpeper, setting her life upon its true destiny. After capturing the king’s interest, Catherine submits to her father’s wish that she advance her family and allows the king, now bored with his queen, to visit her at night—while continuing to make secret plans with Tom Culpeper. While those familiar with the Tudors will be amused at the retelling, this book lacks the intrigue and plot twists one would expect. It plods along until Catherine becomes involved with the king, which doesn’t occur until more than halfway through. Catherine is a lyrical narrator but uninteresting character. A surprisingly disappointing rendition for such a rich and gripping tale. Agent: Heide Lange, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.)