What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII …?
Whitehall Palace, England, 1539:
When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.
Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.
Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…
Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018:
Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.
Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.
Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…
What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?
And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?
THE CATHERINE HOWARD CONSPIRACY is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.
I’ve always felt sorry for all of Henry VIII’s wives, but especially for the two, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, whom he had beheaded for no legitimate reason. I was thus delighted to discover this book that gives an alternative ending to Catherine’s short and tragic story. Here she is not disposed of as a teenager, but… well, I don’t give too much away. This is a book you really must read for yourself.
There are two timelines in this story – 1539 and 2018. In the Tudor timeline we encounter well-known historical figures, and in the present-day portion of the novel a cast of intriguing fictional characters. Perdita, our heroine, is a strong, ambitious but likeable woman, echoing Catherine’s courage. There’s a clever shadowing of the way Catherine was manipulated in the way Perdita’s grandmother have pulled a few strings in the background to make things happen. Perdita crosses paths with a few interfering men too.
Settings are fabulous everywhere, from the palaces of London, to splendid Marquess House in Pembrokeshire, to the Welsh sea floor where a fascinating cup engraved with mermaids comes to light.
The mystery is well sustained and thoroughly captivating, and there’s some romance along the way as an added bonus. This is an extraordinarily engrossing book, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this series.
About the author
From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.
Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!
Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.