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Book Review of The Sixth Wife

The Sixth Wife
The Sixth Wife
Author: Suzannah Dunn
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
FeliciaJ avatar reviewed on + 136 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1


Suzannah Dunn's The Sixth Wife was an odd, tiresome and ultimately disappointing look at the last year-and-a-half of Katherine Parr's life. The title is a misnomer, as the book only mentions in passing her marriage to King Henry VIII and focuses exclusively on her relationship with Thomas Seymour.

Dunn chose to tell Kate's story through the eyes of her best friend, Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk. Dunn's Catherine was an unlikeable character whose behavior became more and more preposterous as the novel progressed.

Dunn skimmed over the most interesting parts of the story: Thomas's inappropriate relationship with the teenage Princess Elizabeth, and his subsequent trial and execution for treason. The final third of the book was somewhat touching. By then, however, I was impatiently skimming the novel, just wanting it to end so I could read something better.

I read historical novels partly to become immersed in the past, but Dunn's annoying use of modern idiom kept pulling me right back into the 21st Century. (The worst offense: Catherine referring to Edward VI, the boy king, as "little Eddie." Groan.) The author's writing style was clunky and overly simplistic, with laughable, tin-eared dialogue. The impression her novel gave was of bad chick lit, with historical personages incongruously shoved into it. Without the names Katherine Parr, Thomas Seymour and Princess Elizabeth, this could have been any tedious piece of romantic fluff.


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