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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a bit of a slog at times but it was worth it to get to the end.
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Very quick paced and wonderfully written book. Both parts of the story are amazing. Thank you for the review copy.
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I am fascinated by Tudor history and usually enjoy fictionalized accounts of this period.  However, I struggled with the premise and did not enjoy the story.
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This is a thriller set in dual timelines which was super cool. It was about Catherine Howard who was newly appointed to the court of Henry VIII and it was about a woman in 2018 who was investigating the life of Catherine Howard.
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This was my first book by this author, It was pretty enjoyable. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating! It was a pretty Quick and easy read!
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I adored this book.  The authors research is impeccable and her story telling excellent.  Each level of the book was exciting.  The sisters relationship is so well drawn I cheered them heartily throughout.
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What can I say? I loved the book. I loved the conspiracy theory behind Catherine Howard and jumping from the times of Henry VIII to modern times. I can't even tell you which story I loved more: Piper's or Catherine's.
The period of Henry VIII and his six wives is my favourite. I've read Gregory and Plaidy. I've read many others. This book stands out by its audacity and bravery to choose a different path and to go with it. 
Author has done a great job in creating characters. I loved them all, even the bad ones.
There is a story of modern heiress and Henry's 5th wife. There are stories of love and loss, violence and deceit. It's a very good mix to keep the story interesting and fun.
Someone will be betrayed and someone will be saved. There is always hope and mermaids... 
The villains are a bit badly-done, but it is forgivable. The story does not loose anything by having black-clad dark military men in it. 
I hope there will be sequel. I want to see how Piper's life pans out. I want to know... 
But I guess, that's the point - we are never to know the whole story.
Author left me hanging. I am hanging for more: to read, to research.
Thank you,
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This was GREAT!!!  Always like these types of books and the  what ifs of history.  MORE MORE MORE!!!!!
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was the first book I have read by Alexandra Walsh, and I cannot wait to delve into the next installment of the Marquess House Trilogy, which I have just purchased! This book alternates between the world of the Tudor Court circa 1540, when Catherine Howard became King Henry VIII's fifth queen, and 2018, when a renowned Tudor historian has died, leaving her estate to her twin granddaughters.. Walsh did a masterful job blending historical fact with an intriguing, fast-paced alternate-fiction story that kept me quickly turning the pages. I heartily recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction and stories with a "what-if" twist. I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley without obligation. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.
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This is a vibrant and well-written book with complex characters and enough plot to keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are a fan of historical fiction and conspiracies, give it a go!
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh
Book #1: The Marquess House Trilogy
Source: NetGalley and Sapere Books
Rating: 4/5 stars

Author’s Note: “This is a work of fiction. The conspiracy theory I have built around Catherine Howard is entirely my own creation.  However, as far as it has been possible, I have tried to use verifiable fact for the rest of the story.”

I always find the author’s notes in historical fiction reads to be most illuminating and highly recommend reading them, so you go into the book with an understanding of the author’s intentions.  In so many ways, understanding the author’s intentions will determine how much you like or dislike the book.  For myself, I very much wish I had read the author’s notes before I began this book. 

To be sure, history does not give us a happy picture of the life of Catherine Howard.  At just 16 or 17 years old when the hapless teenager caught the eye of Henry VIII, Catherine made her way to the throne of England and shortly thereafter lost her head for her efforts.  In nearly every book, tv show, documentary, etc. I have seen and/or read about Henry VIII’s wives, Catherine Howard has always been portrayed as a sort of witless wonder, a young girl – too young – caught up in a life she never could have imagined and certainly was not at all prepared to be a part of.  As history clearly reveals, Catherine Howard’s youth, inexperience, and considerable back luck cost her life.  In Alexandra Walsh’s version of history – revisionist history to be sure – Catherine Howard is a very different young woman whose life, thanks to her own efforts and those of her loved ones turns out quite differently. 

Catherine’s reimagined story begins in much the same way as her actual history.  As a young woman from a powerful and power-hungry family, placing Catherine at court was a given.  As a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves (Henry’s set aside fourth wife) Catherine was easily visible to the king and thanks to her youth, beauty, and the machinations of her family, she quickly caught the king’s attention.  What transpires next and throughout the rest of the read is where things become reimagined: Over the course of short marriage to King Henry, Catherine suffers beatings, at least one miscarriage, and grand levels of psychological torture.  Throughout her tenure as Henry’s wife and queen, Catherine learns she will never be safe and will likely die if she doesn’t find a way out of her life with Henry.  After one particularly nasty beating, Catherine’s trusted family (certainly not the men who put her in Henry’s way!) and friends hatch a plan that will see Catherine safe, alive, and far, far away from her wretchedly awful life at court. If the plan is successful, it will not only be Catherine’s life that is saved, but also that of her unborn child. 

Of course, as this reimagined history needs of a way of coming to light, Walsh creates a contemporary family, the Rivers sisters, who inherit a wonderfully large manor house/estate tied to Catherine Howard and her fear-induced escape from court.  Perdita Rivers is relentless in her pursuit to understand not only the unexpected inheritance, but the woman who left she and her twin sister everything.  As Perdita digs in her own grandmother’s past and research, Perdita begins to unlock the dark secrets of not only her own family, but that of the ill-fated Catherine Howard.  What Perdita uncovers will not just change her own understanding of history, but the very fabric of British history.  Of course, not everyone is as excited by Perdita’s discoveries and if she isn’t careful, her work is going to cost her life. 

The Bottom Line:  As I mentioned previously, I truly wish I had read the author’s note regarding this reimagined life for Catherine Howard before diving into the book!  I spent a great deal of time being angry at the totally reinvented history found within the covers of Walsh’s book.  With that being said, once I read the author’s note I rethought my feelings and discovered I quite liked this version of history.  Walsh has given a young woman – someone history largely regards as ignorant and somewhat pathetic – a strong character, an indomitable spirit, and force of will unrivaled.  Walsh has given Catherine Howard a sense of strength, dignity, self-preservation, and self-respect that were likely not part of the historical figure.  In fact, as Catherine’s reimagined story unfolds I found myself wondering at her audacity and bravery; to escape the court of Henry VIII and live out the rest of her life in safety would have been a truly tremendous feat and one I can well and truly wish had been reality and not fiction.  In all, I found the chapters devoted to Catherine Howard to be far more interesting than those related to Perdita; Catherine’s reimagined life can easily stand alone and really doesn’t need the past meets present bit to make her story stronger.  Since this is only meant to be a trilogy I’ll stick it out and hope the next book is even a bit better than this one.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in return for an honest review
Again a very good read and one I can highly recommend to others. 
I could not put this down.
Thoroughly enjoyable.
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This is a rare mystery that combines fast, engrossing pacing with rich character development.  The characters are textured and believable and the scenery atmospheric, which is difficult to do while trying to keep the action moving.  The one drawback is that the chapters are too long to make the book truly fast-paced.  Shorter chapters seem to automatically make the action move faster when the book is well-written (as this one is.)  The author, I think, made extra work for herself by trying to develop too much of the story by creating longer chapters.
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This historical fiction includes a mystery.  Switching between the present and the past, the author tells us that some of what we thought we knew about Henry VIII may not be correct.  The story gives us a definite "what if" reality and leaves us wondering.  Alexandra Walsh obviously spent time and effort to get the historical parts right while developing an outstanding cast of characters for the mystery.  A unique book that doesn't quite fit any genre but is definitely a good read.
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy by Alexandra Walsh. Released 28th March 2019 by Sapere books, it's 464 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is a dual time line with a parallel narrative. The plots intertwine between 1539-1542 and 2018. The stories are well demarcated and aren't confusing to keep track of. The writing is consistent and the additional historical details are interesting. I'm a huge fan of the period, so it was exciting to see the stories intertwine with historical occurrences resonating profoundly down to the present day.

In some ways it reminded me a lot of The Da Vinci Code. Shadowy conspiracy history thugs and a lone academic (with sidekicks) foiling all their nefarious plans. I have to admit that I really did enjoy the book most when I just silenced my suspension of disbelief's annoying whine and tossed it into to the closet. For readers who are looking for meticulous verisimilitude and realistic plot devices, this one might not fit the bill. On the other hand, for readers who (even secretly) love Dan Brown, and movies like National Treasure (with a dash of Indiana Jones on the side), this one could be a good selection.

Some of the descriptions (especially of Henry and his sexual conquests) may possibly be triggering for some readers. I found the portrayal of HenryVIII pretty over the top. He -was- apparently a harsh guy with a prodigious potential for violence, but his portrayal in the book is fairly extreme. The language is moderately strong (one 'F-bomb' in context), but not over the top.

I enjoyed the book, it's a nice historical thriller. I'll be reading (and reviewing) the second book in the series soon.

Four stars.
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A brilliant read and completely absorbing.  Beautifully written and very well researched which made it an excellent read.  I loved it.
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For a debut novel, I was incredibly impressed.  Most debut novels, well, read like first novels – especially when they are the first of a trilogy.  This one, however, was well written and kept me interested the entire time.  I should be said, I have a HUGE interest in all things Tudor England – both fiction and non-fiction – so the bar was set pretty high whether or not I would like this novel.

If you know much of anything about Tudor England, there will be some information that won’t be a surprise to you, however the author does a great job adding in enough twists within the story that you won’t be bored reading the same facts over and over again.  While I don’t usually enjoy dual timeline stories (I find I tend to like one storyline over the other), I though this one was well done and the transitions didn’t take me out of the story at all.

I can’t wait to read the second book when it comes out, and will also keep a look out for any other books that the author writes in the future.
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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is told in a dual timeline that focuses on today and 1542. It was a bit hard to get use to at first, but as the plot moved along, the split worked out really well. I love the time around Henry VIII so this book was a pleasure to read. It had a lot of intrigue in the present day plot, and the fictional conspiracy plot around Henry VIII's fifth wife Catherine Howard was incredibly original. Some parts were hard to read because of the subject matter, but it fit with the time period so it wasn't thrown in for shock value and was treated respectfully by Ms. Walsh. I give this book 4.5 stars and I am really looking forward to the next book in the series.
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J'ai absolument adoré ce livre !! Il contient tout ce que j'aime : du mystère, de l'amour, l'époque Médiévale. 
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After a slow start while all the characters are introduced, this book quickly turned into a page-turner. I'm not usually a fan of the back-and-forth-through-time type books, but author Alexandra Walsh made it work!
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