The Confession of Katherine Howard

by Suzannah Dunn

Read time: about 4 minutes

Queen Katherine, the fifth Queen of Henry VIII, has always been a character overlooked often. She has often been described as a teenager girl who was made the Queen to satisfy her uncle’s ambitious plans for her family and she was equally naive about it. It gets difficult to comprehend the character as such, with a crown on head and a giggle on face, married to a persona like Henry VIII. Curious to find out more about the Queen, I stumbled upon this book in a book store and decided it will help me get another perspective to the story. It erases the ‘child whore’ character that Author Emily Purdy had described in her book ‘The Tudor Wife’, but not much.

The Confession of Katherine Howard

Cover page

The cover page is not very different from the other books in this genre. Tassels on the side with the queen face and twirly font, this book cover plays by the rules. It makes it easy to spot it on the shelf and classify the genre but also easy enough to forget after reading.


The books is written from the point of view of Queen Katherine’s friend. Her life with the queen is all she knows. She knows her for what she actually is unlike most people who are blinded by the naivety of the young girl.

The queen has been described as naive alright but she is also a different kind of naive. ‘Sometimes she cutting, unkind, petty; sometimes droll; often intriguing.’

She has been described as someone everyone loves and strives to meet standards with, where she herself is edgy. She does not grant passage to everyone into her world and that is why her friend feels honored to be with the Queen.


The book is about the fifth Queen of Henry VIII. It begins from when the queen is about to be sentenced to death due to adultery and treason. The story then goes back to the days at Chesworth house where she resides with Catherine. They become thick friends even though it took long. Cat understood the soon to be queen like no one did. She is afraid when Katherine is chosen to be the next queen. She is found saying - ‘Try as I might, I couldn’t laugh along with him because I was afraid, all the time, that she’d be uncovered. The King - for all that he was King and should know everything - seemed to be under the misapprehension that Kate was a lady worthy of his devotion. Well, I knew differently. What I knew was that she was just a girl, and moreover, a girl who liked boys.’

The narration follows the life of the Howard queen till she is beheaded.

A detailed sequel of events adorn the book. Every name and face has been described too well. The situations have been made realistic through the narration.


The language here is the tricky part. It keeps switching from medieval English to modern everyday language which is quite disturbing. The words are often repeated. Too flowery sentences lose the plot at some places. The description is quite detailed at few places which could have been skipped for sure. The story is from Cat’s perspective, which gives another voice to the queen itself.

Good points

The characters in the book are detailed to the speck of dust. The content is a great story and not merely a collection of data. Each character is different from the other. The second person perspective is a breath of fresh air.

Bad points

Use of everyday language and repetitive words kill the otherwise beautiful narration. Some details in the book seem unnecessary. It puts off the reader.


It is an interesting book on the fifth queen of Henry VIII. It is a different take on her life altogether. Worth a read but may not necessarily quench the thirst to know more about the queen.

Who do I recommend this to

This book is for those who are new to the genre.

Quotable quotes

How, though, really, it struck me, has she ever been a proper queen? A little over a year running around in some lovely dresses: that’s all it had been, her queenship. It hadn’t ever been serious, she hadn’t ever been in the least like a queen. A private wedding in a tiny chapel. No coronation. She was a Ninteen-year-old girl who’d produced no heirs, promoted no one, inspired no reforms or counter-reforms, and made no alliances.

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH