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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review: The Rose Without A Thorn by Jean Plaidy

The Rose Without A Thorn by Jean Plaidy
Book 11 in the Queens of England series
Paperback, 288 pages
Three Rivers Press
June 24, 2003
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal collection

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.

I read this book immediately following Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance, which made sense seeing as they both cover the same characters. You can see my review of Gregory’s book here. I liked reading them back to back in order to get a more well-rounded view of the character of Katherine Howard.

Plaidy's Katherine is looking back on her life retelling all of the events that have led up to her present state of confinement. 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, but I’m not sure that, in reality, Katherine actually realized what was happening. Plaidy makes Katherine likeable, naive, and comes of age very quickly at a time when one needed to fully understand the world around them. I actually enjoyed Katherine in this novel, where as in some other books, she is whiny, overly sexual, and just unlikable.

This was my first Plaidy read and it definitely made me a Plaidy follower. Her characters feel very real and there are so many little details about the world around them that you don’t get sometimes in other books. A wonderful read.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Jean Plaidy:

Jean Plaidy  also has written many other historical fiction books under several pen names.  The other books in this series include:

Loyal in Love

Loyal in Love (Book 1)

Queen of this Realm

Queen of this Realm (Book 2)

Victoria Victorious

Victoria Victorious (Book 3)

The Lady in the Tower

The Lady in the Tower (Book 4)

The Courts of Love

The Courts of Love (Book 5)

In the Shadow of the Crown

In the Shadow of the Crown (Book 6)

The Queen's Secret

The Queen's Secret (Book 7)

the reluctant queen

The Reluctant Queen (Book 8)

The Merry Monarch's Wife

The Merry Monarch's Wife (Book 9)
[My Review]

The Queen's Devotion

The Queen's Devotion (Book 10)

My other reviews by this author:

Find Jean Plaidy: Royal Intrigue Blog


Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I much prefer Jean Plaidy's first-person books to the other ones. My favourite is The Queen's Confession (which she published as Victoria Holt) but I also enjoyed The Lady in the Tower, about Anne Boleyn, and I want to read this one too. Catherine is one of my favourite queens.

  2. Thanks for the review. I have not read one of her books yet, and having joined the Jean Plaidy challenge I am trying to decide which one to read first. Maybe I will read this one :)

  3. This is one of my favorite Plaidy's as well. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  4. This is also my first Jean Plaidy read and I really enjoyed it,,,glad you liked it..

  5. Great review Heather. I'm so glad you have now become a Plaidy fan. I'm telling you I can't get enough of her.

  6. I'm planning on reading this for the Tudor Reading Challenge. This will be my first Jean Plaidy read and I'm really looking forward to it. Nice review!

  7. Nice review. I too like to read books that deal with interconnected characters and events. It adds so much more to each book .

  8. Yay, a new Plaidy fan! I think you'll find her books are always a step above the rest in regards to details and accuracy, as well as characterization. I can't wait to pick up another... read 2 so far this year!

  9. I like Jean Plaidy though I do not get much opportunity of reading her here. I have done a review on one of hr books and would appreciate you looking at it. Thanks

  10. This is your first Plaidy?! No way! I can't believe it. Very glad you enjoyed it. If Plaidy wrote history books students would be very knowledgable :)

  11. Jean Plaidy is a new author for me, and I will definitely check out her books. I love reading about the Tudor Court, and this book sounds like a winner!


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