Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

The cover of the ARC for Queen’s Gambit features a quote from The Bookseller which says, “What Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy.” While Fremantle’s writing lacks Mantel’s language play and depth, they’re not terribly far off. She tells the story of Katherine Parr, otherwise known as Henry VIII’s sixth wife.

The book begins when Katherine’s elderly second husband dies in 1543. The point of view moves around between Katherine and various people around her, including her close friend Huicke, a doctor, and Dot, her maidservant. It spans her marriage to Henry, his death, and her eventual marriage to Thomas Seymour. The court intrigue, the king’s ego, and Katherine’s wits create a compelling story. Fremantle did much research for this book and even though we know the outcome, she builds enough suspense to keep you guessing. This is a strong, great read for a debut.

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