The King's Rose

I’ve read my fair share of Tudor England fiction.  Some were about all the wives, some focused on a particular one – most popularly Anne Boleyn.  The King’s Rose is the first, that I can remember, that focused on Henry’s fifth wife Catherine Howard.   Alisa Libby has done a masterful job of bringing Catherine’s story to the page.  This novel was written for young adult audiences but I think it perfect for adult audiences as well.   I am sure many fans of historical fiction would find this an engrossing, hard to put down, read.

Catherine Howard is fifteen, beautiful, and of noble blood.  And she has caught the eye of a most dangerous suitor…Henry VIII, the king of England.

The court of King Henry is a complex network of lies, deceit, and danger and Catherine, once a carefree, romantic girl finds herself on a dangerous crash course on how to play the game and to becoming a woman.  Even with all the jewels ,the power, and the love of the king of England, Catherine finds herself on shaky ground. She is asked to keep secrets, secrets that could be her undoing;

The king is in love with me. But who am I? Who is this girl that the Howards created out of their words, to whom the king has given his love? I am King Henry’s sweet wife–Catherine Howard, no more. I wonder if God can see me now, see the treason in my heart. I squeeze my eyes shut, pushing these thoughts from my mind. I am a player upon a stage, even when the stage is a bed, even in an intimate moment such as this, with no costume or mask to cover my nakedness, I must play my part well, especially in an intimate moment such as this. I must become my role, and nothing else. (56)

And the most dangerous secret of all is the kiss, and the possible betrothal, she shared with her cousin, Thomas Culpepper – the man who holds her heart.

My life will be more than I ever could have imagined–but perhaps it will also be a little bit less. All of this must be put aside now, the words and dreams that led to his perfect kiss, near midnight in the dark garden at Westminster, and all the happiness that kiss seemed sure to promise. This was a different Catherine who received these letters, who responded to that kiss–since then I have been transformed by the king’s eyes, by the royal jewels around my neck and a cloth-of-gold gown…but who is the real Catherine: the shadow or the light? The smoke or the flame? (44)

Poor Catherine.  She was only fifteen.  She had her own dreams, her own desires, and her family used her for money, position, and power.  She was naive.   She only wanted to make everyone happy.   She fancied herself in love with her cousin – and could have been happy if not for the King and her family.  And she wanted to make herself happy.  After everything she gave up, is that too much to ask?  Unfortunately, when you’re married to King Henry VIII, yes, it probably is.  Libby’s writing is pitch perfect here.  This is a lovely young adult novel – it’s quick and engaging, and it’s easy to find oneself caring about Catherine.  Libby does a wonderful job giving Catherine a voice, very believable and true.  I definitely recommend this for both teens and adults, or anyone who would be interested to learn Catherine’s perspective.

The King’s Rose
Alisa M. Libby
Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Published by: Dutton
Format: Hardcover, 297 Pages
On Sale: April 1, 2009
ISBN: 9780525479703

Purchase from

The Book Depository | IndieBound | Powells

Other reviews by:

Becky’s Book Reviews | Devourer of Books | The Book Vault |Melissa’s Bookshelf

I am a Book Depository, Powells, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

5 thoughts on “The King's Rose

  1. Michelle

    The lovely Jen of Devourer of Books sent me her finished copy of this book which is now languishing on my TBR pile. It came after the rules were set for the Reading Our Own Books challenge I'm participating in this month so I won't be able to get to it but I'm looking forward to the time when I do.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Reading Our Own Books Challenge =-.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • November 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov    


    Support My Habit:

  • Nothing at the moment!

  • Recent Reviews

    The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon RonsonThe Fireman by Joe HillMother Tongue: My Family’s Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish by Christine GilbertRave Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelThe Wander Society by Keri Smith
  • Stories from 2019

    1. Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper, read by Heather Simms
    2. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis *I am not proud of this*
    3. Other People’s Love Affairs: Stories by D. Wystan Owen
    4. The Fourteenth Goldfish Jennifer L. Holm N/A
    5. The Dreamers Karen Thompson Walker N/A
    6. My Sister, the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite Adepero Oduye
    7. Giant Days, Issue 46 John Allison N/A
    8. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
    9. A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
    10. Herding Cats by Sarah Anderson
    11. Calculating the Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
    12. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
    13. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
    14. The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
    15. What is the Bible?by Rob Bell
    16. Captain Marvel: Volume 1 – Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick
    17. Giant Days, Issue 47 by John Allison
    18. Giant Days, Issue 48 by John Allison
    19. Giant Days, Issue 49 by John Allison
    20. Sabriel by Garth Nix
    21. Captain Marvel: Volume 2 – Stay Fly by Kelly Sue DeConnick
    22. Lirael by Garth Nix
    23. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
    24. Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl read by Ruth Reichl
    25. The Library of Lost Things by Matthew Bright
    26. Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer read by Henrietta Meire