The Taming of the Queen

Part of The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels


Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse...

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn's trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry's dangerous gaze turns on her. The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king's name is on the warrant...

From an author who has described all of Henry's queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a brutal tyrant.



Winner: Best Historical Saga of the Year, Woman and Home 2016 Reader's Choice Book Awards

Winner: AudioFile Earphones Award (2015)

Nominee: Best Historical Fiction, RT Awards (2015)

Nominee: Best Historical Fiction, Goodreads Choice Awards (2015)

Behind the book

Released in 2015

All of my titles are a bit of a labour of love, because I see them as a sort of cryptic message to the reader which sometimes says what the book is simply about, and sometimes says what it means. The title for this book had to reflect my real admiration for the heroine, and also the challenge she faced – not just to survive, but also to retain her courage and her power and her vision. The heroine/narrator is Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII's last and little-known queen, a woman who came to her own individual understanding of her husband, an increasingly sick and tyrannical king, and the world that she lived in. She was a leader of reform and (to me the most important) the first woman to publish her own work in print under her own name in England in English. This is so extraordinary I don't know why we aren't all taught her in schools. But what to call her fictionalised biography? Of course, I knew that she had to silence her voice and keep her writing secret during the months that Henry suspected her, and so I wanted something that would acknowledge his power over her. This is not trivial or romantic – this is tyranny to a murderous degree. And I wanted something which put her in the bitter context of all the other women who are silenced. In this way, Kateryn speaks for all who have not been allowed an education, or to speak, or to write.

Then I learned that Nicholas Udall, the playwright, had possibly premiered a play before her called 'Ralph Roister Doister' – a play about a household of women with a woman head and their spirited and violent defence against an aggressive bullying man. Borrowed by Shakespeare and skewed towards male power this became 'The Taming of the Shrew' – the story of a powerful furious woman who submits to an aggressive bullying man. I had my title: ‘The Taming of the Queen’ – a novel about a woman who is silenced by male power and terrorised by male threat, but who survives to write, to make her own life, and even to love.

Book opens in 1543

Only months after the king sentenced his fifth wife to death, he was looking for his sixth, and chose the recently-widowed, thirty-year-old Kateryn Parr, who was planning to marry the handsome bachelor Thomas Seymour. As soon as the king showed his interest in the beautiful widow she had to serve the interests of her family and agree to marry him, become Queen of England and stepmother to his children, and rule England in his absence. But the king, old, angry and in pain, was hard to please; and very soon Kateryn’s outspoken support of the Reformation put her in grave danger from the courtiers, conspiring for power.

Related Characters




"Gregory’s latest Tudor historical novel charts the surprisingly viable relationship between Henry VIII and Catherine (Kateryn) Parr....Gregory does her usual excellent job of ratcheting up the intrigue and suspense as another intelligent and strong-willed heroine fights for her life and her legacy....another rousing chapter in the Tudor dynasty featuring a refreshingly resilient heroine"

Full Review

People Magazine – 'People Picks Summer's Best Beach Books'

"Henry VIII's sixth wife was smart, independent – and managed to outlive him. In historical-fiction-queen Gregory's latest, she's unforgettable."

Library Journal (starred review)

"Full of vivid details and fraught with the constant tension of a court run by a madman....Gregory beautifully builds the suspense"

Kirkus Reviews

"Gregory puts readers at the scene with visceral details"

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Romantic Times (Top Pick; RT Historical Fiction Award Nominee 2015)

"Gregory manages to make history lively, fascinating and real, even as she puts her own twist on what readers believe they know. The impeccable research shows in every page, while her wonderfully realistic dialogue and remarkable characters come to life. Gregory is a historian with heart and wit who makes history accessible"

Full Review

B&N Reads – 'August's Top Picks in Fiction'

"Gregory fascinates with her depiction of a royal court ruled by a tempestuous tyrant, and with her Kateryn, an intelligent survivor"

Full Review

Good Housekeeping (Book of the Month)

"Gregory brilliantly captures the torn loyalties, treacheries and tragedies that lie beneath the historical detail"

Full Review

South West Residents' Journal

"Another richly detailed novel....paints a vivid picture of life in Tudor England."

Publishers Weekly

"absorbing....Gregory's portrait of the complex, aging king and his sensual, scholarly bride will satisfy Tudor enthusiasts."

Full Review

Antonia Senior, The Times (Book of the Month)

"In The Taming of the Queen she returns in triumphant form to the wives of Henry VIII....compelling....Gregory traces the early seeds of feminism in the disputes Kateryn and her Protestant faction lead....reads like a clever, intimate thriller"

Full Review

Elizabeth Buchan, The Sunday Times

"Gregory's Kateryn is a cool, intelligent survivor....Gregory dramatises the story of a reluctant royal wife negotiating the anxious, dangerous years of her marriage. The outcome is no surprise, but it is written with her usual authority and capacity for great drama."

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For winter nights

"absolutely wonderful....While Kateryn’s character is marvellously drawn, so too is that of Henry VIII....Gregory has created a remarkably realistic and utterly compelling portrait....I cannot praise The Taming of the Queen enough. I absolutely adored it."

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The Sunday Telegraph

"a is a mark of Gregory’s skill as a storyteller that she manages to make this novel almost indecently exciting, and brings Parr plausibly alive....The Taming of the Queen is also a cleverly wrought political novel. In introducing Parr to a new audience, Gregory has done the first lady of English letters something of a favour."

Full Review

New York Post – 'This week's must-read books'

"This wives’ tale takes on a new life under Gregory’s whimsical pen."

Full Review

Historical Novels Review

"Kateryn Parr was named Regent during Henry’s campaigning in France, influenced the Third Succession Act, and was the first English queen to publish under her own name. This novel beautifully exemplifies her accomplishments while portraying an honest and emotional woman learning to survive in a dangerous royal court."

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Reader's Digest

"The Taming of the Queen is not only a compelling novel about a surprisingly unfamiliar period of Tudor history. It also provides an overwhelming sense of the sheer terror that comes with living under a capricious tyrant—especially if you’re married to him."

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People Magazine (Book of the Week) – 'People Picks The Best New Books'

"This is a fascinating history lesson, disguised as a novel, about a wily woman who survives lethal Tudor plots and outlasts a deadly king."

Lancashire Evening Post

"riveting and atmospheric....a breathtakingly intimate portrait.... powerful....The gripping story of a remarkable woman."

Full Review

AudioFile Magazine (AudioFile Earphones Award Winner)

"Once again, Philippa Gregory makes historical events personal."

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"fascinating....Readers are thrust back in time where they will enjoy a fictional account based on historically accurate records that show Kateryn Parr to be a strong, brave and quick-witted woman"

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"Of all Philippa Gregory’s Tudor novels this was my favorite. Kateryn’s intelligence, independence, and courage made her a woman to admire and emulate."

Full Review – 'InStyle Book Club: 9 Page-Turners to Dive into This August'

"Few families in history boast more drama and intrigue than the Tudors, so we're welcoming Philippa Gregory's new novel with open arms and eyes."

Full Review

Liz Smith, New York Social Diary

"marvelous and grimly tense....Gregory is, in my opinion, one of the very best writers of historical fiction....impossible to put down, even if you know the outcome....ripe with astonishing, accurate observations about all the characters....I think I might have enjoyed this Philippa Gregory book more than any other so far."

Full Review

Antonia Senior, The Times – 'Best historical fiction of 2015'

"Gregory returns to the Tudors in superb form with this story of Kateryn Parr, the wife who survived Henry VIII....Gregory is graphic on the intimacies of their relationship. She is equally good on the religious and political tensions of Tudor Britain....Riveting."

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NPR – 'Books To Give This Season'

"This is the book for your mom, your sister, your colleague who sends you awesome links from Jezebel and The Toast. Get this one; wrap it up."

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Jessica Grose, Lenny

"Catherine is a compelling and sympathetic heroine and her story is deeply feminist in its way. She did her best to navigate and triumph over a system she knew to be unjust. Highly enjoyable bedtime reading."

Full Review

Woman and Home (Reader's Choice Awards 2016)

"Best Historical Saga Of The Year"

Full Review