In The Queen’s Mistake, Diane Haeger tells the story of Henry the VIII’s fifth wife, the young Catherine Howard. I really, REALLY like this Cat Howard. She actually seems smart, has a good head on her shoulders, (ahem, no pun intended) which is different than she is portrayed in some of the other books I’ve read where she’s basically a flighty sl*t. Don’t get me wrong though – Cat IS loose when it comes to the opposite s*x. And she knows it. “She knew her behavior had long been considered promiscuous, but seducing men was the one thing in the world she knew how to do well.”
When the time comes for her to go to court, she knows the reason her uncle is sending her – he wants to marry her off to someone whom he feels will be an advantageous match, therefore raising the family higher up the social ladder. “To remain, she must find more favor in the queen’s household, anger no one who had the power to speak against her, and, on the whole, search for a husband not only wealthy enough to keep her but well placed enough to please her family.” Little does she know that she will catch the eye of the most well placed man in England!
Another person I really like in the book is Anne of Cleves. She is so endearing and tries so hard to please everyone, especially Henry. Court is like the worst high school clique you can imagine and it must have been terribly hard for her trying to fit in. Cat was sweet with her. I like the part near the beginning of the story where the queen wishes to learn to play the lute to please the king. Catherine does her best, but when the time comes for Anne to show off her new talent, she forgets what she’s supposed to do. Mistress Howard joins the queen to play and this is where Henry gets his first look at ‘all grown up’ Catherine.
Of course we know what happened and about Catherine Howard’s sad fate. But, the way Diane Haeger tells the story to us is like hearing it again for the first time. I absolutely love the way she describes things – from items to people to places. It’s almost like you can see them in front of you like a movie. I appreciate an author that takes the time to do research and makes an effort to teach you something on top of entertaining you. I’ve read her books before but I can honestly say this is my favourite of the bunch. I completely adore it.