Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Pub. Date: August 25th, 2015
Length: 18 hours, 3 minutes

Book Series: (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #11)

Genre: Historical Fiction/English History/Tudor History


By the number-one New York Times best-selling author behind the Starz original series The White Queen, a riveting new Tudor tale featuring King Henry VIII's sixth wife, Kateryn Parr, the first English queen to publish under her own name.

Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse.

Kateryn Parr, a 30-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives - King Henry VIII - commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted 16 months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride, and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and the first woman to publish in English, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her. The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy - the punishment is death by fire, and the king's name is on the warrant.

From an author who has described all of Henry's queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power, and education at the court of a medieval killer.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I don't think I will ever get tired of reading about the Tudors or reading Philippa Gregory's books! It was actually Philippa's novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, that really cemented my love of historical fiction. While I've found myself getting behind with reading her newest books the last few years, my introduction to my library's audiobook rentals has presented the perfect way to get caught up. First up on the available books to listen to: The Taming of the Queen.

The Taming of the Queen is Henry's last wife - Kateryn Parr's - story and stretches from right before they are married until shortly after Henry's death. While there isn't anything new or revolutionary in this telling (at this point how could there be?!) I did find it to be a very interesting and entertaining presentation of what it would have been like to be married to such a mercurial and vicious man. Being from Kateryn's point of view we are able to see her husband go from a caring and giving man to one who gets pleasure from manipulating and abusing those closest to him at the drop of a hat. We also get to see  her grow into an intelligent and thoughtful woman ready to fight, however she can, for the reformist cause.

While I enjoyed seeing the political side of Kateryn's time at court, my favorite aspect of the story by far was the more emotional and tender personal side she had to keep as hidden as possible from those that would use that information to their advantage. Her love for Henry's mistreated and often ignored children was tangible and it was interesting seeing her effect on them, especially Elizabeth, knowing how their lives would eventually unfold. Her great love for Thomas Seymour was also very clear to see and I liked that he was presented as truly loving her as well and not just the cad he's often depicted to be. Her sister, Anne, also played a large part in the story, protecting her and guiding her as best she could, and their relationship was quite interesting as Anne, having served each of Henry's wives, was able to guide her like no other. I would love to read a book with Anne as the main protagonist as she comes off as very strong, capable, and intelligent in this story.

The narrator, Bianca Amato, was wonderful and did an amazing job of moderating her voice to keep the tone of the story appropriate: when Kateryn's marriage is new, happy, and the bond between husband and wife respectful, if not overly loving, the tone is appropriately light and hopeful; when Henry's leg begins to fester and his mood darkens the tone becomes tense and stifling. She really shone during these darker times and I give her credit for making the fear and anguish surrounding the court palpable for the listener.

Having loved Philippa Gregory novels in the past but having always read them instead of listened to them, I am very pleased with the audiobook version of The Taming of the Queen. Those who are already fans can find a new way to appreciate her work, and those new to her might find a story style to appreciate further. I definitely recommend this to those who love Tudor history as much as I do, or someone looking for something to keep them occupied during a long commute.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

If I'm reading a novel about the Tudors, then dangit I want a cover that shows them (or at least has the people on the cover appropriately dressed to represent them)! This cover is exactly what I like to see and represents the story within so well, especially since we get to hear about the painting of this particular portrait in the story. Perfectly fits the story!

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

I borrowed this audiobook from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are my own. You can find more reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy of your own on Goodreads HERE.


  1. Great review -- I'm not a huge Tudor fan but your love for this book and its audioproduction has me very curious!!