Saturday, January 9, 2010

REVIEW: Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy

As this was my last read for the year 2009, I am glad it ended on a good note. This novel tells the story of Henry VIII's doomed queens which he had beheaded-Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. The story kind of does a back and forth between the two but the book is not evenly split between the two. I would say 3/4 of the book is about Anne Boleyn and the other 1/4 about Katherine Howard.

The book goes over all of Henry's marriages through Katherine Howard briefly to give filler to the story. With Anne it tells of his initial meeting with her and her banishment for falling in love with Henry Percy. It tells of her return years later from the French Court and how Henry falls in love with her and pursues the reluctant Anne until her ambition overrides all else and she decides to wed him. It chronicles their tempestuous relationship and her ultimate downfall when the weaselly Thomas Cromwell exacts confessions from her circle which ultimately doom her. I really liked Plaidy's Cromwell in this book. Quietly sinister and willing to do absolutely anything to stay in Henry's good graces.

For Catherine the book tells of her impoverished childhood, her initial meeting with Thomas Culpepper and a meeting with her beautiful cousin Anne when she was a toddler. It continues with her placement and immoral upbringing and various romances while in the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk's household and how eventually she earns a place at court in Queen Anne of Cleves household and is noticed by Henry. Following is her rekindled interest in Thomas Culpepper and her enemies bringing about her downfall through the discovery of her past.

All this will sound familiar if you have read any books at all on either Anne Boleyn or Katherine Howard. As always, Plaidy is great with the historical accuracy and it is a good read if you are looking for a glossing over of the two most tragic of Henry's six wives. I think though that if you want to read detailed accounts of these two ladies which are both very good, Plaidy's stand alone novels The Lady in the Tower (Anne Boleyn) and The Rose without a Thorn (Katherine Howard) would be much better choices. I enjoyed Murder Most Royal but not nearly as much as the other two books which gave me a better feel for both queens.

If the FTC is wondering: This book is from my own personal library


  1. I didn't think this one was as good as her "The Lady in the Tower" or "The Rose Without a Thorn" either.

  2. Excellent review!) Plaidy is my very favourite author- I absolutely loved The Rose Without A Thorn and was very curious to read this one as well. Thanks:)

  3. It is always good to end the year with a good book, I hope you started this year with a good one too :) Just found your blog, I am looking forward to your reviews!