In her new book, The Kings Curse, Philippa Gregory adds multiple chapters to the madness of the Tudor Court of King Henry VIII.  If you enjoyed her best-selling novel The Other Boleyn  Girl, you will be very much at home with The Kings Curse. The story comes through the voice of a new narrator, Margaret Pole of the Yorks, part of the Plantagenets, and considered a rival to the Tudor Throne.


All of the great characters of the period are interwoven throughout the book.  The demise of Katherine of Aragon, the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn, Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey and of course Henry VIII himself. Throughout the novel the crafty and devious Margaret Pole masks her disdain for the Tudors in an effort of save the lives of her sons and Henry and Katherine’s only living child,  Mary, the legitimate heir.  It is indeed the King’s curse, that he has no  legitimate son to continue the Tudor Dynasty.

Gregory’s research and attention to detail is impeccable and her literary style is fast paced. There is never a long wait at the starting line.

Other novels of this era you may enjoy are Katherine by Anya Seton and the entire C.J. Sansom series set during this period.  You can search these titles and The Other Boleyn Girl here at



The Other Boleyn Girl, written by Philippa Gregory and published in 2001, is among the very best novels written about Tudor England and King Henry VIII.  If you have not read this great novel place it on your must read list.  This true story about Mary Boleyn, the younger sister of Henry the VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn, is remarkable in many ways.   The book enlightens the reader not only of the history of the period but it portrays an accurate glimpse into how women, even in their teens, were used as pawns for both power and pleasure.




This is the story of Mary, the first daughter in the Boleyn family to be offered to a King in return for the hope wealth and power. So driven was this family that when Mary’s star began to fade in Henry’s ardor , sister Anne pushed her aside to eventually become Queen Anne.  Although you may know how that romance ended, believe me, the writing of Philippa Gregory will  capture and fascinate you through the final page. This story of two sisters and a King is also a study of the structure of society in 16th Century England. It is not suprising that Philippa Gregory is a recognized authority on women’s history.

Tudor England was  fascinating and this blog has focused on many enjoyable reads set in that period, including the  great British novelist C.J. Sansom and the Shardlake series. Another wonderful work of historical fiction written of an earlier period, Medieval England, is Anya Seton’s Katherine.

After reading the Other Boleyn Girl I ordered the  2008 movie through Netflix.  The movie does not come close to the book’s more intricate story line and I would strongly suggest that reading the book is a must before watching the film.  Once you have read the book it is worth watching.



Another Anya Seton Classic

British historical novelist Philippa Gregory in her foreword to Anya Seton’s Katherine  is correct in identifying Seton among those writers who  ” Dominated historical fiction  following World War II.”   In the opinion of Gordon’s Good Reads,  Seton’s historical novel  Katherine , a huge best seller in the 1950s ,  is perhaps her very best.  Katherine is without doubt a love story, a romantic novel indeed, but the attention to the detailed setting in  Medieval  England in the 1300s , gives this book high marks as a classic historical novel. Just as she did with Winthrop Women, Seton traveled to the novel’s setting and has marvelously recreated a world that only a novelist of her calibre could bring to life.


Katherine , from rags to riches , Knights in shining armor ( John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster), serfs, England’s feudal system, bastard children, the Black Death,  kept woman, love triumphs!  All of the elements of a great romantic novel are here but with page after page the reader is placed in a time and place of Fourteenth Century squalor, chivalry and treachery amid riches , castles and jeweled crowns beyond imagination.    Arranged marriages enthroned Kings an Queens  including  12-year-old King Richard, while the lower classes begin an epoch march to freedom, long before Cromwell and Henry the Eighth dashed all hopes of equality.  Seton gets the history right and delivers the lesson  within the framework of a wonderful love story well outside the confining lines of a text-book. Add to this novel the poetry and presence of Geoffrey Chaucer!

Put Katherine on your reading list. Anya Seton ( 1906-1990), through all of the years will, never disappoint.  See my previous reviews here at gordonsgoodreads of Seton’s Winthrop  Women and Dragonwick.  Also by Anya Seton:  Avalon, Devil Water, Foxfire, Green Darkness and My. Theodosia.