Overall, what do you think of The Queen's Gambit?
Join Date: 11/16/10
Join Date: 04/11/12
This book was soooo good. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a very hard time putting it down. While I like to read about this era in history, I had never read anything about Katherine Parr. This author brought her to life and imparted the emotional factors that go along with being "in court."
Join Date: 03/07/13
I generally enjoy historical fiction, because of the way it lights up history for me, making it more enjoyable and giving me a reason to dig a little deeper into a specific time period. This book certainly did that! I thought I had read everything about Henry VIII and had the subject pretty well down. I actually knew very little about Katherine Parr. What I did know was simply a few facts about her relationship with the king after her marriage. Ms. Fremantle has given me a lot to think about. I would be interested in knowing how much of the book is based on writings from the time period and which parts are speculation and imagination. I realize the general timeline of events must be correct, in order to make the book realistic. This book was a great read, and one I can easily recommend to others.
Join Date: 09/02/13
I enjoyed the author's approach. I have read many authors who specialize in this era. One of the strengths of this book was the the author gives a detailed view of what the court looked like. This was particularly interesting from the view of the servants. Adding Dot's voice allowed me to feel what that world was like for those who were serving the nobility.
The one criticism I have is that there was not family trees for the historical characters. The listing of the cast of characters was good, but I like to have a family tree(s) handy to keep the players straight.
I look forward to the author's 2nd book in her series.
Join Date: 06/19/13
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Most Tudor era novels focus on the "sexier" stories and the story of this survivor hasn't been as well explored.
The book was well written although the frequent use of "sanguine" did catch my ear; maybe it used to be a more popular word.
Join Date: 07/18/11
While I enjoyed the book, I was not as taken with it as the previous commentators. So let me begin with what I struggled with. First, I knew little about Katherine Paar and while I have a general knowledge of Henry VIII's life and times, I could have used a bit more historical background to understand Katherine's belief in the new religion and had little idea that Henry struggled with it. Some background reading helped and I must admit that my ignorance is my problem. An author of a historical novel must decide how much she needs to include for her readers.
Another problem was getting used to the limited 3rd-person point of view and use of present tense. And finally, I would have welcomed an historical comment by the author at the end.
That said, I did enjoy the book, especially getting to know Katherine Paar and through her the problems of high-born women (Sarah Dunant shows us much the same in her recent novel on the Borgia's) as well as the dangers of navigating life at court. And I also liked the fully rounded character of an old Henry suffering physically, temperamental, and yet a man who loves this woman Katherine.
Huike and Dot function successfully as characters who helped me to better understand the world that Katherine had to navigate.
So I definitely recommend this novel both to those who love to read about the Tudor period and those who like a good story.
Join Date: 05/24/11
I am a big fan of historical fiction, and have read a number of books that cover the period. I found this book interesting, but not fascinating. The characters were portrayed in a way that made the reader feel distant from them, versus having feelings for their plight. Some of the detail was cursory, and the story moved in a more expository way.
Join Date: 09/02/13
I enjoyed the story very much. Women's lives were certainly not easy and all decisions were made for them. Katherine's talents and political savvy were a great help to her in navigating her royal marriage. The addition of Dot's story helped to give the novel a fuller view of life at court. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and The Queen's Gambit ranks with some of my favorites.
Join Date: 08/26/11
I have read a lot of historical fiction on the Tudors, however have not read much on Katherine Parr. I really enjoyed this book. I did not want to put it down. I liked how the story was told from different character's perspectives which helped develop the characters through the eyes of those closest to them. I enjoyed learning about about the reformers and what they believed. My favorite character was Dot. I loved how she was "invisible" to those around her in her, but was such an important person to Katherine. I also liked the theme of binding friendships that were based on secrets kept.
I would definitely recommend this book.
Join Date: 08/05/13
I liked this book, but I definitely didn't find it fascinating. I agree with sweeney's comments that the characters were portrayed in a way that made the reader feel distant from them. I was also bothered that the author bounced between the character's internal dialogues with astonishing speed. I sometimes had a hard time keeping up with whose thoughts I was privy to at the moment. Perhaps I missed something, but it seemed like we only had access to the minds of women and Huicke. That made the rest of the characters seem even more distant to me.
Join Date: 09/01/11
Join Date: 06/19/12
I enjoy historical fiction generally, and have particularly enjoyed a whole series of books treating Henry VIII. Catherine Parr has received much less attention than some of his other wives, most notably Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, so I found the chance to learn more about her interesting and Fremantles's book informative. It was not without weaknesses, however. In particular, I wish Catherine Parr's connection to the religious reformation had been better developed. It's clear what side she's on, but I wasn't sure how she got there, or why. I also felt it would have been helpful to know more about her early life, particularly the much referenced but undescribed incident at Snape. I'm guessing more information on those two fronts would have provided insight into her ability to be so strategic in managing her life as Henry's sixth wife.
Join Date: 12/07/12
I thought the author did a wonderful job of creating suspense from a story where the ending is known to the reader. As I was reading the last chapters I really began to wonder how Katherine would save herself. I saw the total terror of living with someone who might kill you just because it was convenient for him or someone who was manipulating him. I found the story of Katherine's final days fascinating. The people and their interactions were very convincing.
Join Date: 04/21/11
I enjoyed the Queen's Gambit. My mother is English and growing up we visited England a handful of times and I was fascinated with Tudor English - though Mary Queen of Scots was always my favorite. I didn't know much about Katherine Parr except that she was the Henry VIII's last wife and assisted him with his maladies. I read a bit more about her during and after reading this book and appreciate her place in history more now. The notes at the end of the book about the individuals was helpful to keep track of who was who and to learn more about fact and fiction. I had a hard time putting the book down when waiting for the King's proposal, when wondering if the King was through with her - though I knew she lasted longer than he did -and when her last husband returned to the scene. So sad though.
Join Date: 01/16/12
I've always been fascinated with Henry VIII and looked forward to reading this book. I did struggle with it early on but felt that it gave a fascinating view into the king's court as well as insight into the man himself. I was thoroughly taken with Dot's story as well as the position of women in this society. While Katherine was a survivor, I was impressed with her strength, and saddened by the precarious position she was in married to this madman. Her position was even more volatile due to the fact that her religious convictions were opposite Henry's. I agree with audrey1 that a family tree would've been helpful but I also think that the list of characters would've been more helpful had it been placed at the beginning of the book rather than the end. I was we'll into the book before I realized it was there.
Join Date: 09/16/11
Join Date: 08/23/11
I agree with most participants that it was a well written, well researched historical novel. I did a bit of background reading on Parr, and find that Freemantle stayed well within the facts. Her writing had touches of Hilary Mantel influence in the beginning, but she soon left that behind.
Join Date: 06/08/11
Historical Fiction is a favorite of mine - As with the other comments I did not know anything about Katherine Parr. I felt she was a likable person - maybe too trusting, but honest. Loved the character, Dot and enjoyed that she had a "happy" ending to her story.
I will be recommending this story to my book club
Join Date: 09/15/11
Having read quite a bit of historical fiction, particularly involving the Tudor court, I found this book to be quite enjoyable. I did not have a lot of information about Katherine Parr prior to reading this book, and I welcomed the chance to learn more about her. There were many references to the incidents that happened at Snape...I wonder if a prequel might be in the works?
Join Date: 03/27/13
The author painted a vivid picture of life during that time period. I knew nothing of Katherine Parr, as she was so overshadowed by the preceding wives and their dramas. The Queen's Gambit illustrated how women, even then, were emerging as intellectuals in their own right and how well they could manipulate from behind the scenes. It also highlighted how powerless they could be. Again, the author painted a vivid picture of life in court and the difficulties even when you are Queen. Great book. I will definitely keep it to read again!
Join Date: 08/31/13
A good story, excellently told. I particularly enjoyed her style of writing; how the author opened events by focusing perspective from different characters, primarily Katherine and Dot. Dot's story was the most fascinating to me. Reignited my interest in that period of history.
Join Date: 12/05/12
This book is rich with detail about living in Henry's court. We learn about the sawdust on the icy cobbles,
combing lice from the hair, packing to move from castle to castle, and maids getting lost from one area to another in the large palace are just a few examples. The scenes are set with little bits of information about mundane happenings. I joined them in spirit. A wonderful read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Join Date: 09/09/13
Katherine Parr has to be one of my favorite historical characters. I have been to Sudeley Castle (where she is buried) a number of times. I have read numerous books about her life. I did enjoy this book although I think the biography by Anthony Martienssen really gives a true picture of her life. I did like the idea of the servants view of events. Of all the books I have read about her, all of them except one paints a terrible picture of Thomas Seymour. He must have been ambitious, amoral and reckless. I would have thought an educated and intelligent woman like Katherine could have seen his true character but I guess " love is blind". I have always admired her for being able to outlive Henry VIII.
Join Date: 04/23/12
I really enjoyed this book. What impressed me most was that Fremantle did not sugar coat the every day life of royals. She did a lot of research into real day to day existance. Having read many historical novels, I learned things that others had not pointed out. I hesitate to mention what as I don't want to spoil it. I liked her style and read the book in 2 days. It was hard to put down and do my everyday chores.
Join Date: 10/29/11
Join Date: 05/31/11
The Queen's Gambit was a good read. I recently finished Hilary Mantel's huge books about Henry and his first three wives. They were very detailed books, so I enjoyed the 'story effect' of this book. I believe the author researched the time and subjects well and presented facts along with the fiction. Enjoyed the list of characters at the back with the bits of information provided.
Join Date: 09/14/11
I couldn't wait to receive this book about Katherine Parr. I have read about her in the past because of my absolute fascination with the Tudor Period. This book did not disappoint. I truly loved getting a more in depth view of Katherine since most of the other historical fiction that I have read about her keeps her in the background. Her she is in her glory and gets her due- ultimately winning the chess game with Henry because she survived him. Because I have also read a lot of historical fiction about Elizabeth I as well, I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth from other perspectives, particularly Dot's dislike of her and Katherine wanting to help this motherless child. Although I had read other books (like Alison Weir's Elizabeth) about the whole affair with Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour, this was the first to make clear what happened without innuendo. I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth as a more reckless and less innocent teen, probably how she really was.
The only issue that I had with the book would have to be for the general reader. There were some words used that would draw the reader out of the story because you would have to look them up (unless you are reading on a Kindle device that allows you to look them up immediately). I was an English major and found myself occasionally pulled out of the story because although I know a lot of words or can figure their meaning, even I would have to look a word up- and the last thing you want to do as a writer is pull your reader out of the story. A more well known word in those instances would have also worked.
Join Date: 06/13/11
I really enjoy reading about this particular time period and I thought the author did a fantastic job with her research. She make the characters come alive, giving the reader a real sense of how life was lived during the rule of Henry VIII, whether you are a low born ladies' maid or the wife of a king. I found the novel to be a real page turner and I hope the author plans similar novels dealing with Henry and his unfortunate wives.
Join Date: 08/23/11
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The author gave us a great deal of historical information, but passed it along gracefully which is often hard to do. I enjoyed her fictional characters, and well as her depiction of her central historical ones. The later Henry, crippled with gout, was very effectively drawn.
Join Date: 09/16/11
Join Date: 04/22/11
Overall, I thought the book was quite good and well-written. I was a bit put-off by some of the anachronisms, however, particularly Katherine's easy acceptance of Huicke's homosexuality. One could be hanged for sodomy and in fact, Udall was sentenced to a year in prison. In some ways Katherine seemed a bit to 21st-century in her acceptance of those with a different sexual orientation. Her guilt was overbearing at times as well.
Join Date: 04/11/12
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