The Sixth Wife: A Novel

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A gripping novel of love, passion, betrayal, and heartbreak in the unstable Tudor court following the death of King Henry VIII

Clever, level-headed Katherine Parr has suffered through four years of marriage to the aging and irascible King Henry VIII—and she has survived, unlike the five wives who came before her. But less than a year after the old king's death, her heart is won by the dashing Thomas Seymour, and their hasty union undoes a lifetime of prudent caution.

An unwilling witness to the queen's late-blossoming love, Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk, harbors nagging suspicions of Kate's handsome and ambitious new husband. But as Catherine is drawn deeper into the web of politics ensnaring her oldest friend, it gradually becomes clear that she has her own dark tale to tell. For though Thomas might betray his wife for power, Catherine might betray her for passion, risking everything she has in a world where love is a luxury not even royalty can easily afford.

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About the author

Suzannah Dunn is the author of ten novels in the United Kingdom, including The Sixth Wife and The Queen of Subtleties, both published in the United States as well. She lives in Brighton, England.

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3.4
12 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Feb 15, 2011
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780062047236
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The execution of the penal laws enabled the king, by an ingenious comment, to derive considerable profit from his past forbearance. It was pretended that he had never forgiven the penalties of recusancy; he had merely forbidden them to be exacted for a time, in the hope that this indulgence would lead to conformity; but his expectations had been deceived; the obstinacy of the Catholics had grown with the lenity of the sovereign; and, as they were unworthy of further favour, they should now be left to the severity of the law. To their dismay, the legal fine of twenty pounds per lunar month was again demanded, and not only for the time to come, but for the whole period of the suspension; a demand which, by crowding thirteen payments into one, reduced many families of moderate incomes to a state of absolute beggary. Nor was this all. James was surrounded by numbers of his indigent countrymen. Their habits were expensive, their wants many, and their importunities incessant. To satisfy the more clamorous, a new expedient was devised. The king transferred to them his claims on some of the more opulent recusants, against whom they were at liberty to proceed by law, in his name, unless the sufferers should submit to compound, by the grant of an annuity for life, or the immediate payment of a considerable sum. This was at a time when the jealousies between the two nations had reached a height, of which, at the present day, we have but little conception. Had the money been carried to the royal coffers, the recusants would have had sufficient reason to complain; but that Englishmen should be placed by their king at the mercy of foreigners, that they should be stripped of their property to support the extravagance of his Scottish minions, this added indignity to injustice, exacerbated their already wounded feelings, and goaded the most moderate almost to desperation." From this deplorable state of things, which is by no means over-colored in the above description, sprang the Gunpowder Plot.
 “All I needed to do was tick off the list of the old sins - lust, greed, anger, laziness, gluttony, and pride. At least three of those were going to cause trouble. And then, of course, there was the seventh, the most destructive of them all. Envy. We’d come to that one before the end.” 
It is 1916 and the war in France is hot and about to get hotter. Embedded undercover in a British infantry regiment on the Western Front, Anson Scott, an American newspaperman, watches, waits and writes his articles in secret, sending them out uncensored for his readers in the USA. But life in the trenches is far from what he had first expected. While the soldiers are raring to fight, the commanding officer is antiquated and the officers themselves are divided into factions. Only Scott’s friend, the elegant, dandified David Alexander is impervious to the murderous rages of the Company Captain Tollman, a monstrous man who victimises anyone who dares oppose him. And when the battalion is on leave away from the front, there is Beatrice Tempest – the most beautiful woman Scott has ever laid eyes on, but who is engaged to Alexander. 

As the regiment readies itself for battle, Scott is in ever greater danger. If his real occupation is discovered, he will be shot as a spy. If he antagonises Tollman, he risks his own life. If he allows himself to become close to Beatrice, he will lose his one great friend. But then there is also David Alexander himself, who is pursuing his own highly dangerous obsession. Soon the opposing forces of love and hate are every bit as dangerous as the enemy gunfire, and the great battle on the Somme grows ever closer. Finally, the intensities of hope and fear cannot be evaded… 

The Sins of Soldiers is a captivating tale of love, loss and the First World War. It will particularly appeal to those interested in the period and the human impact that occurred as a result of war.
A tremendously vivid, page-turning and plausible novel that depicts the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, the most spirited, independent and courageous of Henry’s queens, as viewed from both the bedrooms and the kitchens of the Tudor court.

Everyone knows the story of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII divorced his longstanding, long-suffering, older, Spanish wife for a young, black-eyed English beauty, and, in doing so, severed England from Rome and indeed from the rest of the western world. Then, when Henry had what he wanted, he managed a mere three years of marriage before beheading his wife for alleged adultery with several men, among them his own best friend and her own brother.

This is the context for Suzannah Dunn's wonderful new novel, which is about – and told by – two women: Anne Boleyn, king's mistress and fated queen; and Lucy Cornwallis, the king's confectioner, an employee of the very highest status, who made the centrepiece of each of the feasts to mark the important occasions in Anne's ascent. There's another link between them, though: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician, the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne's downfall hinged...

Suzannah Dunn has all the equipment needed for literary-commercial success: wit, a mastery of dialogue, brilliant characterization, lack of pretence, and good humour. The Queen of Subtleties adds to that mix a wonderfully balanced, strong story; Dunn has plumped for a fascinating retelling of one of the most often-told, most compelling stories of our islands' history. In doing so, she's turning from contemporary stories to historical fiction. The result is sensational.

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