The Rose Without a Thorn (Queens of England, #11)

ISBN: 0609810170
ISBN 13: 9780609810170
By: Jean Plaidy

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England Fiction Historical Historical Fiction History Jean Plaidy Series To Read Tudor Tudors

About this book

From the pen of legendary historical novelist Jean Plaidy comes an unforgettable true story of royalty, passion, and innocence lost.Born into an impoverished branch of the noble Howard family, young Katherine is plucked from her home to live with her grandmother, the Duchess of Norfolk. The innocent girl quickly learns that her grandmother's puritanism is not shared by Katherine's free-spirited cousins, with whom she lives. Beautiful and impressionable, Katherine becomes involved in two ill-fated love affairs before her sixteenth birthday. Like her cousin Anne Boleyn, she leaves her grandmother's home to become a lady-in-waiting at the court of Henry VIII. The royal palaces are exciting to a young girl from the country, and Katherine's duties there allow her to be near her handsome cousin, Thomas Culpepper, whom she has loved since childhood.But when Katherine catches the eye of the aging and unhappily married king, she is forced to abandon her plans for a life with Thomas and marry King Henry. Overwhelmed by the change in her fortunes, bewildered and flattered by the adoration of her husband, Katherine is dazzled by the royal life. But her bliss is short-lived as rumors of her wayward past come back to haunt her, and Katherine's destiny takes another, deadly, turn.

Reader's Thoughts


Entirely predictable (what with the historical fact of her head getting removed and all), but generally enjoyable, if not particularly insightful account of Catherine Howard. Fifth wife of Henry VIII.

Linda Lipko

From the start, Catherine Howard didn't stand a chance of survival in Henry VIII's snake pit of a court.Unlike Catherine of Aragon, she lacked depth of spirtual quality; unlike her clever, quick-witted cousin Anne Bolyen, she lacked savvy; unlike Jane Seymour, she lacked grace; unlike Anne of Cleves, she lacked the ability to sit quietly and learn the strange customs of a court filled with political intrigue and danger.A mere child when she arrived at her grandmother's lax household, she blindly followed the elder, more seasoned ladies. Nightly romps and touching games with men excited Catherine, and soon she was a part of the revelry.Sent to court as a lady in waiting for Anne of Cleves, Catherine was a silly, dim-witted young fawn. Possessing a seasoned sexual beguilement, she soon came to the attention of Henry.Quickly, she became the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Like many men in mid life crisis, Henry was obsessed by the promise of youth that she brought to him. Quickly, he learned she was not the rose without a thorn.When inviting handsome Thomas Culpepper to her bed, she was too obtuse to realize the danger in her hedonism. Too young, naive and silly, she soon lost her life.As the crowd cheered, her head was placed on the block and severed from her body and from Henry.Should we pity poor Catherine? I think not. What a silly little fool to think that there was no price for her actions.


Another historical novel set in King Henry VIII's court. This one has King Henry's 5th wife, Katherine Howard, as the narrator. It was a good story. Plaidy focuses more on the story and less one delving far into history.


I've always found Katherine Howard to be the wife I sympathize with the most, a sentiment that is even stronger after reading this interpretation of her story. As with most of Plaidy's work, historical fact Is built upon and translated into a character who is intimately human and relatable. A tragic story, to be sure, but a beautiful read nonetheless.

Sasha Strader

As much as I love Jean Plaidy, I struggled with this book. Katherine Howard was, without a single doubt, Henry VIII's stupidest wife. There's just really no new take on that that can change my mind.


I read this book immediately following Philippa Gregory's "The Boleyn Inheritance", which made sense seeing as they both cover the same characters. I liked reading them back to back in order to get a more well rounded view of her character. Plaidy's Katherine is looking back on her life retelling all of the events that have led up to her present state. You even get some little side notes like "if I had only known" or "I would have done that differently". It's refreshing to see someone of that time period recognizing their faults. Plaidy makes Katherine likeable, naive, and comes of age very quickly at a time when one needed to fully understand the world around them. This was my first Plaidy book and I found her to be a very refreshing writer. I will definately be back for another one of her books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes Tudor history.


I had the feeling I understood this unfortunate soul...can't imagine that is really possible, but Plaidy is such a good writer I was convinced of it. As always, she tells this story very well. If you like historical fiction as I do, her books are a good place to saunter about..really satisfying, and so well imagined...the human predicaments of the Tudors are given weight and depth. I think Plaidy's insight is not often found in books of this genre.


Henry VIII's fifth wife, Katharine Howard was very young. Many at the time saw a difference in Henry after he married Katharine. He felt younger and seemed in better health. In this historical novel, Jean Plaidy examines just how Katharine may have felt. She paints a picture of a young girl who didn't understand what she was getting into. Katharine is someone who was born to love and that love is what ultimately doomed her. When she went to live with her grandmother, she entered a place where dallying with young men was the norm, not that her grandmother knew that. Henry believed he had married an innocent girl. Katharine's fault was in not correcting his belief. Katharine is perhaps the most tragic of Henry's wives simply because she is too young to understand what she is taking part in. Great new look at a woman many people just deem promiscuous.


I have a secret passion for historical fiction and this series by Plaidy is suspenseful and quick to read. Even though I know the fate of each one of Henry VIII's wives, I still found the book to be a page turner.

Michelle Moe

The writing is awful! She repeats the same thing again and again. This is an attempt to give us a picture of Henry the VIII and his wives told through the eyes of Katherine Howard as she awaits her beheading. I do have a better understanding than I came with, but this could have been done so much better.


The Rose Without a Thorn is the story of Catherine Howard (cousin of Anne Boleyn), the young and vibrant fifth wife of Henry VIII. Jean Plaidy weaves a enthralling account of her young, poor, uneducated and unsupervised life. In a first person narrative, Catherine tells us how she came to court and to the notice of the fat, old (49 to Catherine's 19)king, her short stint as queen and her demise. Having read several accounts of the young Catherine, Plaidy's had me liking her, sympathizing for the young girls lack of knowledge in almost all aspects of life. Basically running free and wild without notice or care, she is put in the path of the King to serve her unscrupulous Uncle's ambitions. I enjoyed Plaidy's writing and dialogue and plan on reading more of her Tudor series.


This book was pretty good. It told the story of Katherine Howard, Henry VII's 5th wife. Jean Plaidy told the story a bit differently from other writers that write historical fiction about this time period and did not focus much at all on Katherine's relationship with Thomas Culpepper. In fact, this novel gave the point of view that Katherine was enamored with the King and did not emphasize Katherine's obsession with clothes and jewels as Philippa Gregory did in her novels about this time period. Overall, it gave me a fresh perspective and I enjoyed it.


More Tudor tales. A little different tone and approach than Phillipa Gregory's series. More conventionally written from a static point of view as a memoir by Katherine Howard's scribe. Katharine was #4 of Henry's wives, the youngest and most innocent. Yet her exasperating shallowness and nieve nature get tiresome so it's hard to feel ultimately sympathetic on her behalf. The Gregory novels are more lively.


This is a short novella about Katherine Howard, fourth wife of Henry VIII. Jean Plaidy does a good job of getting across that Katherine was a ditzy teenager with poor supervision and lax parenting who inadvertently captured a king. She was a pawn of her powerful uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, but little loved by her family. Her downfall was of her own doing - she was unfaithful to a vain, violent, vengeful king who had already murdered one wife. Yet, Katherine is a sympathetic character, yoked to an aging tyrant when all she wants to be is a silly girl. The Rose Without a Thorn is the best novel I have read so far about Katherine Howard, far superior to Phillipa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance.


I've enjoyed Ms. Hibbert's Jean Plaidy books for about 30 years, and am now re-reading some that I read so long ago. Rose Without a Thorn was, as usual, an enjoyable read. Plaidy can almost always make the dullest historical character into a sympathetic one. I found myself rooting for Katherine Howard even though she was very foolish, and very angry and frustrated by her cruel, self-serving uncle.

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