YOUNG & DAMNED & FAIR by Gareth Rus­sell, HarperCollins.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - FILM MAKER -

On the eve of her ex­e­cu­tion, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Cather­ine Howard, made a “cu­ri­ous re­quest”. She asked to see the block on which she would die, and prac­tised lay­ing her “slen­der neck into the wooden cur­va­ture”. Gareth Rus­sell’s bi­og­ra­phy gives this queen a depth rarely seen. Por­trayed as giddy and fool­ish, Cather­ine could be de­ter­mined. Un­til the scan­dal over her vir­gin­ity, she had hardly put a foot wrong. Her mar­riage to an age­ing mega­lo­ma­niac who “never pushed for­ward any leg­is­la­tion which could im­prove his sub­jects’ lot” mustn’t have been easy. On the day of her death she nuz­zled her neck into the em­brace of the block, for “she had made it fa­mil­iar. She would leave with dig­nity.”

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