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Review: Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Queen's Gambit: A Novel - Elizabeth Fremantle

Queen’s Gambit gives the reader a very in depth look at Henry VIII’s last queen, Katherine Parr. So much controversy is associated with the other wives that Queen Katherine’s more reticent personality sometimes gets glossed over as being of less significance. Queen’s Gambit shows that Katherine Parr had a quiet power and dignity that not only outlived 3 husbands and a tragic past but could withstand even the changeable moods of this dangerous king as well as navigate a court filled with those who would use her for their own ends or set her up to be disposed of.

Queen’s Gambit explores the many faceted personality of this often overlooked queen. Katherine Parr was highly educated, moreso than many women of her time, she held her own political opinions but was savvy enough to when it was safe to speak of those opinions, she had a natural affinity for healing herbs, and the way she interacted with those of differing social statuses was fascinating. I also liked that her relationship with Seymour showed that she was also a woman who only wished to love and be loved despite that other’s ambitions would pull her in another direction. 

Fremantle does an amazing job bringing to life, in vivid detail the atmosphere of Tudor England at the end of Henry’s rule. The reader is able to experience the corrupt Tudor court through the eyes of maid, nobility, and other people of the court. It was very easy for me to lose myself in the story, from the dialog to the steady pacing to the writing, Queen’s Gambit was thoroughly enjoyable. If I can nitpick anything at all to find fault with it would be that sometimes I felt overwhelmed with detail, but overall, I found the amount of detail mostly added life to the story. 

I would compare Queen’s Gambit favorably with historical novels I’ve read by Jean Plaidy and Alison Weir who are two of my favorite authors in this genre. I would say that this novel is less dramatized and more solidly based in research than some of the more popular Tudor fiction I’ve read recently. I would recommend it to any and all fans of historical fiction and fans of the authors I mentioned above. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this trilogy