The Queen's Gambit: A Novel

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Queen's Gambit: A Novel
432 pages; Simon & Schuster
Katherine Parr is 31 years old and twice-widowed when she is given a marriage proposal she can't refuse: to become the sixth wife to Henry VIII, a brute whose five previous wives have been divorced, disowned or beheaded. A weaker woman would quail at the prospect but Katherine is a rare breed of heroine; she refuses to lose to His Highness in chess matches or to shriek at the sight of a pie filled with live frogs (apparently a kind of Tudor test of one's mettle). Her secret? She's in love with a dashing courtier named Thomas Seymour and hopes to at last marry for love. What ensues are years of desperate gambling for happiness—and a plot twist even canny readers will not see coming. Author Elizabeth Fremantle brings the decadent, conniving, back-stabbing world of the 16th-century British court to brilliant life here, revealing what one woman can teach us all about the timeless art of survival.
— Andrea Walker