This is heavy on the history, light on the fiction, in direct contrast to other Tudor-era historical fiction I’ve read. There’s no plot per se, just a slightly fictionalized account of Katherine’s life from her coming to England to her death. A lot of it reads like Weir is checking things off a timeline. Katherine went to this place on this date. She wrote this letter to this correspondent. The court gossip was this. The political climate was this. So-and-so’s star was rising while Such-and-such was out of favor. It’s interspersed with Katherine’s thoughts and feelings and conversations, but it’s not structured like your typical three-act novel. The lack of rising and falling action results in a plodding pace that makes the book feel much longer than it is. It’s good history, but it’s meh storytelling.
Weir portrays Katherine as a religious, loyal, loving, and largely oblivious wife. Katherine is always the last to know about her husband’s infidelities, and she’s completely blindsided by Henry seeking a divorce, having had no inkling of his lengthy pursuit of Anne Boleyn. Speaking of Anne, I am super curious about how Weir portrays her in the next book. In Katherine’s eyes she was a malicious, vindictive spawn of Satan out to drag the whole of England down to Hell by means of religious reform and her wily king-seducing ways.