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Book review: ‘The Unfaithful Queen’ is more fiction than history

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 1:52 p.m. MDT

"The Unfaithful Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Fifth Wife" is by Carolly Erickson. (St. Martin's Press)

Editor's note: This is one of a half dozen books that explores the lives of different figures in British royal history, including several set in the court of Henry VIII.

"THE UNFAITHFUL QUEEN: A Novel of Henry VIII's Fifth Wife," by Carolly Erickson, St. Martin's Press, $14.99, 291 pages (f)

Set in Tudor England between 1536 and 1542, “The Unfaithful Queen” is the story of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of the notorious Henry VIII. Because of its historical setting, much can be learned regarding the history of this era’s English aristocracy. However, the main focus is the various sexual escapades of young Catherine, making this book closer to erotica than actual historical fiction.

The events in Catherine Howard’s life showcased in this novel, which has recently been released in paperback, are historically accurate. However, because little is known for sure about this past queen’s actual feelings and words, author Carolly Erickson has taken many liberties. She assumes a lot regarding Catherine’s motivations and thoughts, leaving this book very much a novel.

Centering on Catherine’s romantic interludes, both sexual intercourse and foreplay are portrayed. Many profanities and crude references are made. Violence, such as beheadings and torture, are also described.

Erickson is a resident of Hawaii and author of several historical fiction novels.

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She can be reached at bizziereid@gmail.com.

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