After having no contact with her grandmother throughout her life, Dr Perdita Rivers is shocked to discover that on her death, she has inherited Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire. Finding herself wealthy beyond her wildest dreams, Perdita sets out to discover the reason behind her estrangement from her grandmother. She soon realises that something is afoot at Marquess House after discovering documents claiming that the fifth wife of Henry VIII was not, in fact, executed, but instead managed to escape his tyranny. Will Perdita discover the fate of the Tudor Queen and find out just how her grandmother is connected?
I am a fan of fiction containing a dual timeline and so The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was definitely a book that appealed straight away, especially with its Tudor link – another of my interests. I was intrigued to read about Henry VIII’s fifth wife, as she is one of the Tudor Queens that I know least about and I loved how the author has merged historical fact with fiction, to the point that I began to wonder which parts were real and which were not!
History has perceived Catherine as a flirtatious, naive young woman but Alexandra Walsh paints a completely different picture of the ill-fated queen. In The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, we see her constantly in fear of her husband, whose behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. Several scenes were truly heartbreaking as we see how she is being mistreated and I was willing her to escape his clutches. I particularly enjoyed the relationship she had with Henry’s previous wife, Anne of Cleves, the only other woman who truly knew what it was like to be married to the king.
Perdita, I found, to be quite a complex character and my feelings towards her changed throughout the book. I did, however, find myself incredibly envious of her having all of that priceless historical documentation at her disposal! I admired her tenacity when, faced with a potential life-threatening situation, she was determined to uncover the truth about what had happened to Catherine Howard.
As I knew that this was the first in a trilogy, I couldn’t wait to see how the author would end this first installment. I liked how, although the main mysteries in the book had been solved, there is a clear indication of what is going to happen in part two.
This is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
With thanks to Sapere Books and Net Galley for my ARC.