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No Will But His by Sarah A. Hoyt

No Will But His

by Sarah A. Hoyt

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An easy read that brought life to the character of Katherine Howard. ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 25, 2016 |
This is the best fictionalized account of Catherine Howard's life that I have read. In most fiction books about her, she is either portrayed as a goody-goody (as in Carolly Erickson's The Unfaithful Queen) or just as a lusty young woman that could become vindictive to those that would expose her faults.
I believe she was neither. She was just young and naive. Remembering back to when I was that age myself, I could really relate to and sympathize with her---something which was difficult to do in the other novels about her. ( )
  TheCelticSelkie | Jul 4, 2014 |
I've read more books about Henry VIII and his six wives than I can count. Fascinated by this subject, I continue my quest to learn more and more and to find a new book with a new twist. Sadly, this wasn't the one!

I assume the name of the book No Will But His refers to Henry VIII and his controlling personality, yet, even as one who knows a lot about the subject, I'm mystified how the author published with this title.

The book focuses on Katherine Howard, wife #5 of rotund, open-wound stinking, mercurial Henry. While peppered throughout there are sentences about Anne Bolyen and Henry, it isn't until the last chapters (that seemed rushed) wherein the author melds Henry and Katherine and their ill fated union.

A mere child when Henry took notice of her, Katherine's life was a case study in frivolity and supreme lack of common sense.

Motherless and living with a penny less father, the only thing the family had was a name, which Katherine promptly besmirched.

Hoisted off to her non- hands on grandmother, Katherine had free reign with other girls in the house as they wantonly attracted and bed young men.

By the time Henry set eyes on her, she certainly was not a rose without thorns. Continuing the hope of liaisons while married to the King of England, alas, this empty headed fool lost her virginity long before she lost her silly little head.

It is such a shame that the author had so much to work with and rambled on and on with corny, trite phrases, lacking depth.

Not recommended.
  Whisper1 | Nov 19, 2012 |
Sarah A. Hoyt, mostly of Shakespeare fiction fame, takes one of the most scandalous wives of the Henry VIII, Kathryn Howard, in true Philippa Gregory/biographical fiction tradition. I had high hopes for this novel -there's so much juicy intrigue to pull from. How could you go wrong?

Readers first meet young Kathryn Howard when she's sent off to live in the home of the dowager duchess, a family relative. Even though Kathryn is raised to be a well-mannered, graceful young woman who will one day marry a man and bear his children, she finds herself entangled with a lustful music master and a young man named Francis Dereham, whom she hoped to marry one day. After discovering her indiscretions, the dowager duchess sends her away to be a lady-in-waiting to the new Queen Anne of Cleves, within something of a hidden agenda. Of course, much like her infamous cousin Anne Bolyen, Kathryn catches Henry's eye and eventually becomes queen herself, but of course, her questionable past catches up with her as do her other questionable deeds...

Sounds like a great recipe for some juciy fiction, doesn't it? It should have been, but Hoyt manage to make it well...boring. First, Hoyt's writing style is composed of long, windy sentences and flowery dialog that fit better with her other Shakespeare-fiction novels, but tend to leave readers out of breath. Hoyt's prose also tends to frequently fall flat, and lacks adequate detail or emotion. More importantly, No Will But His has dull characters that have hardly any personality or compelling traits that bring them alive for the reader. I was left wondering if Kathryn was ambitious, a pawn in a bigger game, or just an unintelligent flirt. I never even got a sense of romance between Kathryn and her adulterous lover Thomas Culpepper, just the need for them to come together for the purposes of the plot.

Though the plot itself is solid, there's no characterization at all. Frankly, I was sorely disappointed in No Will But His, and went away with no added understanding of Kathryn Howard the character or the historical figure. Tudor fiction fans should give this one a miss. Don't waste your time here. ( )
  BookAddictDiary | Jan 19, 2011 |
Pros: Some fascinating glimpses into court life and how people could react to each other.

Cons: The main character can be aggravatingly self-centered sometimes.

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

Kathryn Howard spends her childhood as one daughter in a family of children. When her grandmother comes to take one of the children to raise to serve in the royal Court, however, Kathryn's circumstances undergo a great change. She grows from a naive country girl into a young lady capable of holding her own. And yet all is not what it seems, for her grandmother and other relatives seem to have other plans for her, plans that involve a match with someone very highly placed at Court. She is going to have to find her way through the labyrinth of people's intentions, but her past mistakes could undo everything she has managed to accomplish...

I've always enjoyed reading historical books that touch on court life, because it gives me better insight into the labyrinthine intrigues that go on behind the scenes. When I realized that this book was about Kathryn Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, I was looking forward to a glimpse into the dynamics of a court with constant openings for a new queen. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, both in not finding what I was hoping for and in the character of Kathryn herself.

The book opens during Kathryn's childhood, when she is taken by her grandmother to learn what she needs to know to enter the royal court. Being young, she is fairly self-centered and unaware of many of the undercurrents that are swirling around her. As she grows up, her continued naivete began to grate on me. The length of time that she remains unaware of the nature of sexual relations when surrounded by girls more adventuresome than herself stretched my credulity. Her nearly complete obliviousness to her relations' plotting, even when she's in the room, also bothered me. It was as if she had no interest in what was going on around her. I suspect that part of my frustration with her stemmed from the breaks in the story, during which she is supposed to grow and mature. I never felt as if I had a good grasp of how much time had passed, and so I thought of her as older than she probably was. (It doesn't help that she isn't sure of her age either.)

There is also a fairly heavy amount of foreshadowing in the beginning of the book regarding whom Kathryn will marry. And yet, when it serves its purpose early on, all of these hints and suggestions not only completely disappear from the narrative, but are forgotten by Kathryn as well. Because of that, those hints felt more like a convenient as a means of moving the plot forward.

I did enjoy seeing some of the preparations and grooming that went into preparing noble children to attend royalty. I can't help but wonder, however, what that kind of training would have helped someone with a little bit more drive to accomplish. Because Kathryn is at times determined to not make too many ripples (or oblivious), I felt like I was missing a lot of interactions that would affect her and her life. Readers who enjoy following a heroine through a textured world may be disappointed in the somewhat narrow focus of the book, but for those who enjoy following a character without needing too much information about the world that the character inhabits will probably enjoy it.

It was also fascinating to see the intersection between Christian morality and human sensuality. The contrast shapes so much of Kathryn's character and the events of her life that I was left wondering how others of the time handled the dichotomy. While parts of the book felt like stories out of "The Canterbury Tales" or Boccaccio's "The Decameron", others didn't feel all that different from some of the strictures of Victorian times. It's interesting to see that while some things have changed throughout time, others have remained the same.

While it was difficult at times to connect with Kathryn and her world felt slightly shallow, the reader is still left with a portrait of a woman whose life is at least partially shaped by circumstances beyond her control. And while she does have moments of quiet strength, they were too few and far between for me to really care whether or not succeeded. With that being said, Ms. Hoyt does have a feel for some of the undercurrents and ideas of the times. While readers looking for the story of a woman's life will probably find something to enjoy here, those readers who want more than a few words about the events, undercurrents, and intrigues of the setting will likely be disappointed. And as much as I enjoy glimpses into lives of the past, whether the characters are strong or not, I as a reader need more of a sense of places, people, and events to fit all of the nuances of the story together. For those who have a better sense of the history of the time, however, I'd be willing to bet that they would appreciate the finer details of the story better than I. ( )
  ReneBlock | Nov 15, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425232514, Paperback)

The author who "masterfully builds a dramatic story" presents another gripping novel of the women of Tudor England.

As the bereft, orphaned cousin to the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard knows better than many the danger of being favored by the King. But she is a Howard, and therefore ambitious, so she assumes the role Henry VIII has assigned her-his untouched child bride, his adored fifth wife. But her innocence is imagined, the first of many lies she will have to tell to gain the throne. And the path that she will tread to do so is one fraught with the same dangers that cost Queen Anne her head.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:00 -0400)

Seeing her cousin, Anne Boleyn, executed, Kathryn knows better than most the danger of being favored by the king, but ambition runs strong in her family, as does passion. She assumes the role that Henry assigns her: his young, untouched child bride, and adoring fifth wife. Kathryn, no stranger to love, must hide this and many other lies if she wants to gain the throne, and keep it.… (more)

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