Sunday, August 23, 2009
One of the defects in my personality is that when I find something I love, I want to acquire as much of it as possible. My love of historical fiction is no different but owning all of the new releases isn’t enough - I also feel compelled to get my hands on as many older, out of print books as I can. I do however have an internal “reasonableness” limitation – I will not be shelling out $70+ for Diana Norman’s Fitzempress’ Law for example since that would violate my motto of “buying books is cheaper than buying shoes”. So, I spend a lot of time each week trolling through used book sites and ebay looking for books.
A couple of years ago I came across a book about Anne Boleyn, The Dark Eyed Queen by Lozania Prole. Since then, I have acquired a couple of other books by Prole, including one about Katherine Parr, Henry’s Last Love. At the time, it was the only copy available on the internet (now there is one copy for $125) and I got it for less than the price of a new hardback which is usually my limit of “reasonableness”.
Written in 1958, Henry’s Last Love is a quick read and focuses on Katherine’s years at court as a young widow finding love for the first time; as the last wife of Henry VIII; and as a wife for a fourth time to the man she loved – and thought she had lost when she was forced to marry the king.
Prole covers the major events in Katherine’s life without providing a lot of detail. The writing is at times overly dramatic with lots of exclamation points for effect and for the most part there’s no real insight into the characters. The one exception is of Thomas Seymour. Arrogant, vain and self-absorbed, he is the ultimate cad and when it looks (to him) like he could make a better marriage, he takes matters into his own hands resulting in an ending to the book that was one of those "WTF" moments.
This is one of those books that it’s hard to say much about because there just wasn’t much to it. Nearly a quarter of the book covers Henry's previous marital history and there seems to be an abundance literally of flowery language - numerous references to various kinds of flowers and other plants that are either in the garden where the action is taking place or that will be in bloom during a particular season. I seriously considered throwing it against the wall a couple of times, but since I was reading it while at a cabin we had rented in the mountains for a couple of days, I didn't want to damage someone else's walls! Unfortunately, the other books that I had brought with me to pass the time were in the car, which my family took to go white-water rafting. Figuring that even a bad book was better than no book at all, I finished it.
The storyline is pretty simple and so this would be a book that’s good for a pre-teen who has an interest in the time period. For anyone with even a passing knowledge of Katherine Parr or if you are looking for a more in-depth story about her, I would suggest The Ivy Crown by Mary Luke (also out of print, but generally more reasonable in price!). I can only hope her other books are not like this one.