I was first introduced to Tony Riches historical novels when I read the books in his Tudor Trilogy, about the founding and growth of the Tudor family. The history is compelling. For Mary – Tudor Princess, and this book, Katherine – Tudor Duchess, the reader experiences the Tudor family from a woman’s point of view. The author hasn’t lost a step in the transition.
Katherine Willoughby was born at Parham Hall in Suffolk in 1519, daughter of the 11th Baron of Willoughby and his second wife, Maria de Salina, who had come to England as a lady-in- waiting to Katherine of Aragon. With her father’s death, Katherine inherited the barony. Her wardship fell to King Henry VII, who sold it to Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, his brother-in-law.
Her story begins as she is about to leave to join the Duke’s household. Her mother, who will continue in her service to Queen Katherine, sees her daughter as a good match for Henry Brandon, the Duke’s five-year-old son who is in the line of succession to the throne. Katherine is not so sure.
After traveling to the impressive Westhorpe Manor, Katherine becomes a part of the Brandon family, joining Henry and his two sisters, who are close in age to Katherine. She immediately is drawn to the beautiful, clever and elegant Lady Mary, wife of the Duke and sister to the King. (See Mary – Tudor Princess). When Katherine meets the Duke, she is immediately drawn to this rich and powerful man.
When Princess Mary dies after a lingering illness, Katherine mourns her deeply and is surprised when the Duke proposes to marry her. She is but fourteen and he is forty-nine. Beating the odds, theirs is a long and successful marriage, weathering the vicissitudes of the King’s many marriages and the reigns of Henry’s children. Katherine’s quick wit, devotion to learning and outspoken advocacy for the English reformation help her navigate the politics of the time. Through Katherine’s eyes, you meet the famous women of Henry’s court: Anne Boleyn, Katherine Seymour, Catherine Parr. You suffer with the deaths of her children and experience terror when Katherine’s faith puts her and her entire family in danger.
As impressed as I was by the story of Princess Mary, Katherine’s life left an even more indelible vision of an indomitable woman who not only survived a tumultuous time, but thrived. As always, the author’s attention to detail and depth of knowledge of the intrigue of the English court is superb.
I highly recommend yet another well-written and richly ornamented book by Tony Riches.
About the author
Tony Riches was born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and spent part of his childhood in Kenya. He gained a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University and worked as a Management Consultant, followed by senior roles in the Welsh NHS and Local Government.
After writing several successful non-fiction books, Tony decided to turn to novel writing. His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period. His novels Warwick, The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham have both become Amazon best sellers.
Today Tony has returned to Pembrokeshire, an area full of inspiration for his writing, where he lives with his wife. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.
Visit Tony online at www.tonyriches.co.uk, Tony Riches Author on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @tonyriches.
You can find Katherine – Tudor Duchess at Amazon Books: