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The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

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I was given a copy of The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by NetGalley for review purposes. This is Alexandra Walsh's debut novel and the first part of a trilogy. The novel combines Tudor skullduggery with a modern day thriller and is an interesting idea. I found the book enjoyable but must stress, as does the author, that this is a work of fiction and, although the Tudor characters are based on real people the story is not rooted in fact. I found the characters on Catherine Howard's part of the story to be sympathetically drawn and the modern part of the story is exciting. Overall I found this an enjoyable novel and ideal for fans of historical romance.
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Such a well written, enjoyable book! Historical fiction at its best. Catherine Howard, 5th wife of Henry VIII, may be the least written about of the Tudor wives. Alexandra Walsh writes a spellbinding story, twisting and turning with unexpected clues and events that will surprise the reader in its ingenuity and reality. An eye opener into the character of Catherine Howard, and recommended reading.
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This was a very exciting and clever story, with lots of action and anticipation. The historical background was excellent and the characters were all believable. One of the can't put down books and I enjoyed every minute. Waiting in anticipation for the next in the series.
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To begin with, I loved the duality of this novel, the two time lines - Tudor era and present day. I enjoyed the way that Ms. Walsh seamlessly moved between the two. Although a work of historical fiction, she obviously did research the time of King Henry's rule. It was a fascinating look at Court rivalries between the Howards and the Seymours and their political intrigues and power struggles. The characters are well-developed and the story moves along smoothly. I enjoyed the different interpretation of Henry's lovely and very young fifth bride. What if?

I look forward to the next book in the trilogy and seeing what's in store for Perdita, Piper, Kit and company.

* I would like to thank the author/publisher/Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review*
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Fasten up your seat belts for The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh! You are in for an exciting Da Vinci Code style chase though history for answers. Via the treacherous muddy waters of The Tudor era. This is such a me-book, that I was wired from the moment I read the blurb. And the book delivered all the conniving, slippery moves that I wanted.


The first three words that come to my mind for this book are fun, exciting, thrilling. I loved all The Tudor politics, the scheming and plotting. And this alternate version of history was a fun (but also creepy) take on Catherine Howard’s life. I loved watching the author join the dots to show how this might have happened using a mixture of historical facts and artistic licence.

I was less invested in the contemporary characters, but I did enjoy how everything connected. Perdita is the main character in this storyline, and I was fascinated by her research skills as she investigated the conspiracy theory and just how it might connect to her own life. Of course Catherine is the main character in the Tudor thread, and it was interesting to see her portrayed as a thoughtful, kind-hearted woman for once. Instead of the foolish girl that we are more used to hearing about.

What always strikes me about the Tudor period and always gives me all the rage is how women were pawns moved about by the whims of powerful men. So I appreciated that we had some decent men in both the past and current storyline for a little balance. Not to mention the slow but steady development of a promising romance.

Most of all, I’m delighted it’s a series. Especially as it left on an exciting note, with lots of scope for developing the characters and the storyline. Bring on book 2 ASAP! 


I’d highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, especially the Tudor period. Fans of the Philippa Gregory series should enjoy, I know I found it fitted in perfectly with my reading of those books.
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What an enjoyable book about 'what could have been ' this turned out to be!  As we learn of the tragedy surrounding poor Catherine Howard 's fate, we travel through the courts of King Henry VIII as we learn more about this mysterious  fifth queen.  She was the second and last of his wives to lose her head and was pushed upon the King during a troublesome time for him mostly by her uncle, who had some grandiose plans for himself in the court. Said plans quickly escalated at an alarming rate. A lot of this book brings to life Catherine's family, who we don't read about normally and that is a very interesting perspective in which to weave this novel.  For fans of history, Henry VIII, and historical fiction/mystery alike.  This is sure to be enjoyed by many.
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*Many thanks to Alexandra Walsh, Sapere Books and Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*
I am afraid I will be in the minority regarding the praise of this novel ...The dual timeline chosen for this novel may sound like an intriguing idea, however, I was not intrigued ... It may be that I do not enjoy thoroughly this type of storytelling. Also, I struggled while reading the passages describing King Harry's violence. There are several theories regarding the change in Henry's personality in his later life, and there is no denying that he had a mind of a tyrant, but I suppose the author's imagination went a bit too far even though I understand that his extreme violence served its purpose in the plot development. In my opinion, Catherine Howard is far too mature in this novel for intriguing at the Tudor court as we know that it was  carelessnes that lay at the foundations of her downfall and execution.  While reading HF I probably look for a good story set in the period with a decent dose of factual information, hence my little disappointment.
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This book is absolutely riveting.  If you love anything Tudor then this is the book for you because it is so much more than a story about the Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if it was true.  I particularly enjoyed the story from Catherine's point running alongside Perdita Rivers story.  It was so interesting the way the author weaved the known facts into the story.  It certainly left you wanting more so it would be great if there was a follow up to the story.  A great read.
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I like stories with two separate time lines. This one from the very present modern pair of twins in an exquisite setting of the Marquess House and then we go back centuries to the time of the Tudor King Henry VIII and yes some of his wives.

1539 and Catherine Howard is a simple girl just arrived at the court. She wasn't to know that she would catch the rapacious eye of the King who just did not like his Queen - Anne of Cleves. She was too "plain" for him and he wanted someone younger, more pliant than a maturer woman. Catherine fitted the bill. That she did not like the King, and that she was coerced into the relationship is obvious from the start.

On the other hand we have Perdita and Piper who have been estranged from their grandmother who they believe cut them out of her life when her only daughter was killed in a car accident. Just days after her grandmother died, the twins are amazed to know that not only was their father in a very good relationship with their grandmother, but that their grandmother had followed every detail of their lives minutely and that both of them were her only beneficiaries of her estate.

How the two disparate stories come together is very well told in this epic story. History to a great extent, factual and very much part of the story and then the fiction crept in and what a story. It would change the history of the British Royals if factually true!

This was history, family saga, mystery and of course a fair amount of murder considering that we are talking of Henry VIII.
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I am a huge fan of the Tudors. Thus, I was happy when there was a thriller about Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s tragic queen. I thought that this was a well-done thriller that kept me reading till late at night. Overall, I recommend this for fans of The Da Vinci Code.
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The 1st book in the new Marquess House Trilogy by Alexandra Walsh is a great read that keeps you guessing until the end.  Walsh deftly unravels the mystery of Catherine Howard and the present day plot to keep her fate a secret.  The Catherine Howard sections of the novel, read more easily to me than the present day sections.  Can't wait to read the 2nd book in the series and have already pre-ordered a copy of it.
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Title: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy
Author: Alexandra Walsh
Publisher: Sapere Books
Rating:📖📖📖.5 / 5

When you think about the wives of Henry VIII, there are definitely certain names that are most memorable such as Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. But for the lesser known wives, books such as these can be enlightening. Although fiction, The Catherine Howard Conspiracy does help to paint a picture of what life could have been like for Catherine Howard. The queen with such a short rule can often be overlooked as not much seems to be known about her. In Walsh's book, we are shown that not everything you read in history should be viewed at face value. There can be a little mystery in anything.

Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper are thrown into chaos when they find out that their estranged grandmother has died and they are left her hefty fortune which includes Marquess House. Marquess House is full of history and art, along with their grandmother's research and unfinished manuscript of her latest book about Catherine Howard. Following the clues left behind, the girls and their new acquaintances soon find that maybe the documented fate of Catherine Howard is not in fact true. And not only that, but there may be outside forces that are trying to cover up any discoveries Perdita uncovers.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is a good introduction to Walsh's new trilogy. Walsh does a good job of introducing the characters involved as well as the setting and the history of what Perdita is uncovering. The story could have used a bit more background into who Catherine was, for those readers who may not be as familiar with Tudor history. Though, when information is sparse, perhaps this is the best that could be done. I found myself wishing for the Howard chapters more than Perdita's chapters. 

I don't feel as if the mystery in the present day was built up enough to hold my interest. It wasn't until the last 10% of the book that the intrigue and the real "action" heated up. I couldn't get a real feel for what Perdita was doing as she uncovered the clues. They seemed to fall too easily into her lap. However, I felt more invested in Catherine and her plight than the people that were trying to find out more about her. However, as the first installment, I do believe that Walsh did a good job of building the suspense and I am for sure going to seek out the next book to figure out what happened to Catherine and the mystery surrounding her. Tudor buffs should check out this book for sure! 

#catherinehoward #tudors #history #mystery #mrsmadonnareads #currentlyreading #books #henryviii #alexandrawalsh #saperebooks
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This book is historical fiction and suspense wrapped into one.  It takes place in England and Wales during two time periods: the 1540's during King Henry VIII's reign and present day.  What seems at first like two completely separate stories is masterly woven into one by author Alexandra Walsh.  I personally am fascinated with Tudor history and this book has offered me yet another glimpse at what life really was for the queen and members of Henry's royal court; in short the opposite of everything my younger self dreamed it had been.  To be part of Henry's court did not offer the security you would expect to come with such privilege, especially if you were queen. 
As the saying about Henry's wives goes...divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.   When the main character Perdita, discovers her recently deceased grandmother's research into one of Henry VIII's wives, she discovers that perhaps this history that has been handed down is false?  What if one of those outcomes mentioned in this rhyme is wrong?  What if one of his wife’s lives didn't end as everyone has now thought for hundreds of years. And why has the truth been hidden? As she dives deeper into her grandmother's research, she is astonished at the revelations within and wonders why her grandmother deserted it and never had it published.  But not long after she begins to ask why the research was abandoned, she learns the all to dangerous reason.  As she gets closer to the truth of what happened to Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, the more real the threat on her own life becomes.  And soon the race is on to discover the truth before her own life is brought to an end by those still fighting to keep the truth hidden.

The thing I loved most about this books is how plausible the fictional conspiracy really is.  With power like Henry's and those who were part of his court, how do we know that what we've been taught is the truth?  It would be so easy for Henry and his nobles to pass the "truth" they wish onto us, keeping hidden the secrets that would change our view of them. The constant lying and plotting that took place within Henry's court could just as easily have been used to create the historical "facts" we've all been told.  

I really enjoyed this book!!  I gave it 4 out of 5 stars because as much as I enjoyed it, I did find some major plot twists predictable and saw them coming a mile away.  But I would still recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction and suspense like myself, because it is still a great read!
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This is the first in a planned trilogy by Alexandra Walsh, and it pretty much wears its heart on its sleeve all the way through. Perdita Rivers and her twin sister Piper inherit a fortune when their estranged grandmother dies, leaving them everything. Their grandmother Mary had been an historian, and has left behind the text of an unpublished book revealing the ‘truth’ behind the story of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard. The book alternates in time between the present day and the period 1539-42, showing life in Henry’s court and the marriage between Henry and Catherine.

Firstly, you get exactly what it says on the tin with this. It’s a conspiracy theory, Dan Brown-esque romp, throwing common sense and logic out of any ornately-patterned window it can find. It’s blindingly obvious how the trilogy will work out – we will no doubt learn the true identity of Perdita and her twin sister (as if the clue ‘Perdita’ wasn’t enough!!). I have no problem with this at all. What I take umbrage at is the astonishing portrait of Henry VIII the book gives, showing him to be a thug, a rapist and a murderer. I’m all for proto-feminist retellings of stories but this seems a bit heavy handed. And it jars completely with the other half of the story, and the descriptions of the main characters (which could be taken out of any Mills and Boon novel); you will get sentences like this: ‘For a moment, her mind wandered to her fiancé: tall, athletic, tanned and, despite her shock and grief, she felt a flutter of lust.’ Oh dear. In general, the characters are 2-dimensional, secondary to the plot throughout.

Anyway, the book rattles along at a decent pace at times, but at points there is a lot of conversation as Perdita and the dashingly handsome Kit (who has ‘piercing blue eyes’, of course) explain their theories to each other. There is a shady government organisation called MI One, whose role is to ensure that ‘official’ history only is allowed; there are menacing figures in dark clothes hiding in the shadows; there are clues and ciphers and a hidden tunnel; there is a murky plot to put them in danger and they plan an escape…. You get the picture.

It’s fine; nonsense, but fine, with little literary worth. Will I read the next two in the trilogy? Perhaps, if only to see what new outrages to history can be dreamt up. This might be great for some readers, but not for me, I’m afraid. 

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)
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Well this turned into a train wreck two thirds of the way through. I hated this after the 70% mark and felt that it took a turn towards the unbelievable. The premise had so much to offer and it simply did not deliver. This should be marked as a fantasy as there is no way this is based on the world as we know it. The only redeeming quality was the writing and I did care about Perdita and Kit's relationship but these were the only redeeming factors.
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Dr Perdita Rivers receives news that her estranged Gramdmother has passed away.  Strangely, despite having no contact with Perdita or her twin sister since they were children, Granny Mary has left her estate to the two girls.  The estate is far more vast than they could ever imagine, but more interestingly, Mary has also left them her life's works as an historian, including an as yet unpublished work investigating Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII.  This research could not only hold the key to why Mary abandoned the girls, but could also change history as we know it.  Told from both a 2018 and a 1539 point of view this story gives us an interesting twist on well known Tudor history.

I requested this from NetGalley because I'm a sucker for historical adventure novels.  I know they aren't necessarily historically accurate, and this one states in the blurb that it is giving an alternate version of Tudor history. I still love reading about different times though, and the lifestyles that people have (or potentially could have) had over the years.  This book definitely hit the mark.

The book shifts between 2018 and the 1540s, but not on an alternating chapter basis.  The book is split into 7 parts, each one with several chapters, allowing us to really get a feel for the timeline and what is happening.  I thought this worked, because each time you become immersed into that timeline and story arc.  Each time the book changed to the next part and the other timeline I was both disappointed that the part I was reading was ending, and also excited to get back to the other characters and find out what was going on with them.  Each part ends on a mini cliffhanger, so as a reader you're keen to see what happens.

Character wise I thought there was some really strong characters in the book.  I loved how Catherine Howard was portrayed, and felt we really got to know her as a character.  Henry VIII was portrayed as vile and repulsive, violent and mad.  I know this isn't a historically accurate novel, but I could fully imagine this being true.  I didn't think we got quite as much of an insight into Perdita, but she still came across as likeable, and as a strong and resilient woman.  I liked her ability to focus on the task at hand, and her self reliance.

In terms of the storyline I thought it was fascinating.  I loved reading about the Tudor history and how the courts worked.  Again I know this isn't necessarily historically accurate, but it felt believable and that made it interesting to read.  Following Perdita as she unravels her family history was also interesting.  If I had a drawback it would be that the 2018 sections didn't feel like they had as much depth and drama as the 1540s did.  Towards the end especially I felt there could have been more danger to really put the reader on the edge of our seats.

Overall I thought this was a brilliant read, and the richness of detail in the Catherine Howard sections is exceptional.  The only thing that stopped this being a 5* read was that I felt the ending was a little weak, the author could have ramped up the tension here.  It's still a great read though, and I recommend it for anyone who likes reading about different time periods.  I would also just mention that some of the topics covered in the 1540s parts are quite brutal and some readers may find them distressing. Personally I will definitely be looking out for the second book and finding out what happens next.

Thanks to NetGalley and Spare Books for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the sequel.  

It is very much a female-driven novel - the main characters, the most 'written' characters, the sympathetic characters are all women.  It is set now, and in the 1540s, and gives a different slant to what is commonly known about Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII.  Although the author states it is a work of fiction, aspects of the mystery are plausible.

Would definitely recommend it.
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What a fantastic read. Anyone who loves historical novels and conspiracy will be in seventh heaven.
This book grips you from the first page and trust me you will not be able to put it down. 
The first book in a trilogy with a very clever stance on the Tudor dynasty which will leave you craving for the next instalment and like me ordering the next book and waiting impatiently 
Role on the 2nd June
It has to be one of the best books I have read this year
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The "Catherine Howard Conspiracy" is basically about what would happen if history as you knew it was wrong.  This is a dual timeline book where it takes place in the Tudor era (which is my favorite) and in the present.  Dr. Perdita Rivers is notified that her grandmother, the great Tudor historian, Mary Fitzroy, has passed away and has left the grand estate, Marquess House to Perdita and her twin sister, Piper.  Perdita and Piper have not talked to Mary in several years and is shocked to hear the news.

Upon arriving to Marquess House they are swept up with the mystery of why her grandmother cut all ties to the girls and the discovery that history may be wrong about Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII's fifth wife.  As the girls unravel Mary's research Perdita realizes that not only is her life in danger but the lives of her family and the house staff.  Can Perdita solve the mystery without losing her family?

I am so looking forward to the second book to see where the author will end up taking this story.
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My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere books for a review copy of this book.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is the first in a trilogy, the Marquess House trilogy, and is a mystery/thriller that unfolds in two parallel timelines. After a brief prologue setting out some events in 1542 Pembrokeshire, we come to the present day where historian–archaeologist, Dr Perdita Rivers working at an undersea site where a sunken ship, possibly from the Armada, has been found is told that her estranged grandmother, an eminent historian Mary Fitzroy has died, and that her and her twin sister, Piper are left heirs to her estate. She soon discovers that her estate is not only vast including the imposing Marquess House, but also includes treasures in the form of the books and documents that Marquess House is home to including its own legacy and the results of her grandmother’s research. As she begins to look into this, she begins to uncover the secrets that Marquess House hides (which connect to Catherine Howard) as well as much that has been hidden in her and Piper’s life. In this, she is helped by her grandmother’s lawyer and friend, Alistair Mackensie and his family, particularly, his youngest son, Kit. Alongside, back in the sixteenth century, we follow Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth queen, from the time she enters the palace as maid-in-waiting to Anne of Cleeves, catches Henry’s eye, and becomes his queen. But as queen she is caught between the ageing and increasing violent Henry, who acts entirely on his whim, and her own family the Howards, particularly the Duke of Norfolk who wants his own ambitions for the Howard family realised through her. Having seen the fate that befell her cousin Anne Boleyn, Catherine must live in fear nearly every step of the way, and can rely only on a few to protect her. 

Some aspects of the book when it begins, and the comparisons with Dan Brown, kind of gave me a clue as to the direction in which the plot was headed, so when I started, my enthusiasm was kind of dampened, but as I read on and the two storylines unfolded with the present-day characters uncovering various secrets, I began to get absorbed in the plot and want to keep reading on to see what they would find next, and how they would get to the answer to the mystery. I also enjoyed the historical part of the story as it played out (though there were certain scenes, describing Henry’s brutality and depravations which were a bit too gruesome for my liking—may be a little less detail would have worked better for me here). The author has taken historical events and characters and given them her own interpretation. So, many of the characters, Catherine Howard, Lady Rochford, and Norfolk, in particular, have different personalities than one is (or at least I was) used to from other fiction (even, non-fiction) set in the era. How much of this interpretation is true (the conspiracy is fiction of course, as the author says), I can’t tell but it was certainly an interesting spin on events, and told in a fast paced, and exciting manner. The main character, Dr Perdita Rivers, I didn’t really take to so much, in the sense that I felt her a little too naïve in many situations; also I felt even when the answer to some things seemed to stare her in the face, she took a page or two longer to get to it. While this book solves part of the mystery, there is a further thread to explore which is probably where the next one will pick up, and I am excited to see how that turns out. An exciting read which I would have enjoyed far more if the secrets unveiled would have really taken me by surprise.

The book released on 28 March 2019!
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