The Sixth Wife by Suzannah Dunn was shipped lickety-split, so I dropped the book I was reading on the War of 1812 & dived in. In Queen of Subtleties this author used a first-person narrative with Anne Boleyn's tale being reported upon by a confectioner in Henry's Court. In The Sixth Wife she returns to this technique, only the narrator in this one is Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk. For you peeps who may not know or recollect, she's the daughter of Maria de Salinas (Mary Salts in English LOL), Catherine of Aragon's favorite lady-in-waiting. She became the ward of Charles Brandon & that old lecher married her when she was 13, a mere 3 months after the death of his (2nd or 3rd, depends how ya look at it) wife, Mary Tudor, the Dowager Queen of France.
Catherine was widowed fairly young (as ya would be when your hubby's 40 years your senior) & since Charles & Mary's son Henry died shortly after Charles & Catherine were married, it was her elder son (also Henry) who succeeded as Duke of Suffolk at age 11 or so. Sadly, both Henry & his brother Charles died really young in a sweating sickness epidemic in 1551, on the same day; they were 17 & 16 years old & away at school in Cambridge. The story is that whilst Catherine hastened to their bedsides as soon as she heard they were ill, Henry had died by the time she arrived & Charles shortly after. She went on to marry one Richard Bertie a few years after that & had 2 more children, Susan & Peregrine, who were born in Germany due to Mary's whole Catholic thing (Catherine was a well-known & outspoken Protestant, & didn't want burning). Peregrine succeeded either Dudley or Philip Sidney (I forget which it is atm, they was related, after all) as General of the English forces in the Dutch wars after Zutphen.
Anyways, that's who she is LOL This tale takes place in the period immediately following Henry VIIIs death, through Catherine Parr's. Dunn has her as a close friend of Catherine Parr (Catherine Parr is Kate & Catherine Willoughby is Cathy, to avoid confusion) who visits the Dowager Queen frequently, first at Chelsea & later a few times at Sudeley.
Now Dunn writes in "modernspeak", but don't be put off by it as the prose flows pretty well despite that, & it's interesting to hear Cathy thinking in a language closer to our own ears (she thinks a lot LOL). She doesn't approve of Kate's marriage to Thomas Seymour & doesn't like him (was there anyone who did, really?), preferring brother Ed. There was a lot of stuff Cathy was up to & thinking about throughout the story that had me kinda scratching my head going RELEVANCE, PLEASE!, but then you turn a page & realize that you have been masterfully set up for the surprising denouement....as is Thomas Seymour
I don't want to get into a lot of plot particulars here because it would definitely be a "spoiler" for its interesting interpretation by Dunn on what really happened with the whole Thomas & Elizabeth thing. Suffice to say I've never considered it in this light before & it was a fabby idea instead of rehashing the same tired old thing all the time.
I sorta take umbrage with the title, tho, since it really had nothing to do with Catherine Parr's queen years & there's already a Jean Plaidy book by this name (as well as others). They could've thunk of something different. The copy I have is a trade paperback so not as runious to your wallet as a hardcover would be. I'd recommend it just for the fun spin Dunn puts on the Seymour/Elizabeth affair
And thereby Greens' book report is finished <curtsies nicely>