In ‘The Queen’s Mistake,” Diane Haeger has once again painted an intriguing portrait of the court of King Henry VIII. Choosing to write on the controversial life of Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Haeger has provided the reader with her own intriguing take on the series of actions that led to the fifth Queens’ downfall.
While some authors have chosen to slander the name of Catherine and brand her as a foolish whore, Haeger has chosen to portray the young queen as a nave innocent trapped in the web of courtly schemes and intrigue.

Regardless of prejudices the reader might have regarding Catherine, this novel forces a sympathetic response from the reader, as well as a compelling insight into the troubles of a young woman struggling to hold her own in an experienced court.

Most people, when they hear the name Catherine Howard, immediately think of her as one of the two wives Henry infamously beheaded.

The fact that she was beheaded, however, remains insignificant when compared to the mystery concerning how she got to the block on Tower Green. Catherine was Henry’s youngest wife and Haeger makes it clear from the start of the novel that she is a mere pawn helpless to the whims of her ambitious family.

Like most women during this time period, Catherine is not free to choose her heart’s desire. She enters into a unique and treacherous imprisonment in her marriage to the king known for his ruthless behavior and rash decisions, this 17-year-old girl is thrust into the treacherous court and quickly learns that she can trust no one but herself.

Haeger beautifully constructs the romance between Thomas Culpepper and Catherine,
making the reader feel instant compassion for this young woman, who is forced to give up the only man she will ever truly trust for an obese and ill-tempered king who is old enough to be her grandfather.

Surrounded by women who would love nothing better than to see the queen fall so that they might take her place, Catherine feels she has only two friends in the world Jane Rochford, the very woman who sent Catherine’s cousin, Anne Boleyn, to her death, and her beloved Thomas Culpepper.

Haeger cleverly sets up scene after scene of rich dialogue and captivating plot twists so the reader comes to understand that there is always more than one side to every story.
In ‘The Queen’s Mistake,” Haeger succeeds in persuading the reader that the road that leads to Catherine’s execution was not even remotely her doing.

Instead, the reader feels compelled to view Catherine as the victim of her arrogant family and the unfortunate target of the king’s whim.

Haeger brilliantly stacks up the evidence to support her personal belief that Catherine Howard was innocent and simply misguided by the malice of others.
‘The Queen’s Mistake” is a quick read with a captivating plot that makes it impossible to put the book down.

Stylistically, Haeger has made the reader feel as though they are a part of Henry’s court and she has successfully made her characters come to life.

Her portrayal of true love, determination and tragedy is flawlessly conveyed to the reader, and Catherine is given the opportunity to be portrayed in a more positive light.
After her award-winning novel, ‘The Secret Bride,” Diane Haeger has written another compelling love story that has proven to be her best work yet.

Leonard is a member of
the class of 2013.

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