The Rose Without a Thorn

Date finished: 5-13-05
Author: Jean Plaidy
Category: Historical fiction
Published: 2003 (Originally published in 1993)
Pages: 260

Basic plot:
First-person narrative of the life of Katherine Howard, fifth wife to King Henry VIII. Katherine tells of her humble beginnings, her rise to court and the attentions of the king that led to their eventual marriage. A marriage that ended with Katherine’s head on the block.

My assessment:
Plaidy is a great storyteller, setting scenes well with clear writing. But there just didn’t seem to be much she could do with Katherine, who comes off as dull, dull, dull. Katherine is just a silly girl, who doesn’t seem to understand the importance of her actions or words until it is too late. Unlike any of Henry’s other wives, she actually deserved her fate.

Not sure why Plaidy would have chosen to tell this story in the first person. Thanks to Katherine’s lack of intelligence and interest in what was going on around her, we miss so much of the history of England in this one, background that lifted Plaidy’s book on Catherine of Aragon to a great level. Instead, we get vapid Katherine flirting with everyone. Not sure it was the best way to tell the story, but maybe it was the only way based on historical evidence. Katherine certainly wasn’t involved with the politics of England, so there might not have been any way to include that in her story.

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