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


I love Jean Plaidy, I’ve never made any secret of that fact, and I found that she does a fabulous job of articulating what I’ve always thought about Katherine Howard, Henri VIII’s ill fated fifth wife. The writing is as masterful as always, and even if you’re familiar with the tale of Katherine Howard, I think you’ll find yourself wrapped up in this book. The story starts out with Katherine talking to her friend, the scribe, and it is all presented as the story she is telling to the scribe in the days leading up to her death.To read the rest of my review, please visit:


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.


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 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.

Kathy Petersen

I picked this up with some trepidation because I somehow identified Jean Plaidy with romance writers and because I have been burned by historical fiction too often in the past. How lovely to be wrong. The Rose herein is Henry VIII's fifth wife, a naive but lively girl named Katherine Howard. Plaidy has her dictating her life to a scribe in the days before her execution, with an addendum by the scribe of her final moments. This Katherine seems frank and truthful, neither excusing herself nor taking total blame for her slips in behavior. It's all just about believable and very nicely done.

Gabrielle Blin

Katherine Howard's story from her point of view.A very good book, easy to read.A good mix of romance and history.I enjoyed this book even if I found the writing very repetitive.


After reading this book, you will be amazed at the kind of girl who could become queen while King Henry was on the throne. Her pretty face attracted her to him when she was only about 15 years old. Her pretty face was about the only positive character trait this girl possesed, besides the Howard name, of course. She was selfish, spoiled and immature. Katherine also had a lot of male friends, which would eventually be her downfall.

Vanessa Tillery

This dtory is about Katherine Howard. Katherine is in love with Thomas Culpepper but she has caught King Henry VIII eye and must become his fifth wife. She make the king the happiest man alive for a short time. When the bliss is over her life takes an unfortunate turn.


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.

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.

Neda Bolo

An interesting look at what may have occurred in the Henry VIII court. I have always found the Tudor dynasty to be a mystery and I enjoyed reading this novel. It is set in the viewpoint of Katherine Howard and allows the reader to really get in the mindset of this young woman who never had a chance at court.


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.


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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