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Publisher's Summary

Written with an exciting combination of narrative flair and historical authority, this interpretation of the tragic life of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, breaks new ground in our understanding of the very young woman who became queen at a time of unprecedented social and political tension and whose terrible errors in judgment quickly led her to the executioner's block.

On the morning of July 28, 1540, as King Henry's VIII's former confidant Thomas Cromwell was being led to his execution, a teenager named Catherine Howard began her reign as queen of a country simmering with rebellion and terrifying uncertainty. Sixteen months later the king's fifth wife would follow her cousin Anne Boleyn to the scaffold, having been convicted of adultery and high treason.

The broad outlines of Catherine's career might be familiar, but her story up until now has been incomplete. Unlike previous accounts of her life, which portray her as a naïve victim of an ambitious family, this compelling and authoritative biography will shed new light on Catherine Howard's rise and downfall by reexamining her motives and showing her in her context, a milieu that goes beyond her family and the influential men of the court to include the aristocrats and, most critically, the servants who surrounded her and who, in the end, conspired against her. By illuminating Catherine's entwined upstairs/downstairs worlds as well as societal tensions beyond the palace walls, the author offers a fascinating portrayal of court life in the 16th century and a fresh analysis of the forces beyond Catherine's control that led to her execution - from diplomatic pressure and international politics to the long-festering resentments against the queen's household at court.

Young and Damned and Fair changes our understanding of one of history's most famous women while telling the compelling and very human story of complex individuals attempting to survive in a dangerous age.

©2016 Gareth Russell. Excerpt from "Die Lorelei" by Stevie Smith, from Collected Poems of Stevie Smith, ©1957. Reprinted from New Directions Publishing Corp. (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd.

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Magnifent scholarly work

If you pay attention to the introduction of this book, you will learn that this work is Dr. Russell's doctoral dissertation. It is also not a biography of Queen Catherine Howard. It is a scholarly work on the queen, her family, the court of Henry XIII and his 5th queen, and the politics and society of the mid 16th century. Dr. Russell has done the massive research required for a dissertation. I know the work required because I have written a doctoral dissertation. He has also written a beautiful manuscript also worthy of a doctorate.The detail and beauty of this work is admirable and a pleasurable to listen to. Jenny Funnell's narration is perfect. Her voice and presentation of the work is excellent. I highly recommend this work to all who are interested in British history and especially Tudor England.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Perfect Narration for an Outstanding Book

I am extremely picky when it comes to narrators ... excellent ones are hard to come by. Besides glottal consonants and over-enunciation, one of my pet peeves are women simulating a masculine voice, and any narrator attempting foreign accents. Jenny Funnell's pitch-perfect narration neatly sidesteps such pitfalls; she maintains her own measured, pleasant rendition with an occasional touch of humor and wryness in her voice.

Which brings me to the book itself. As other reviewers have noted, the biography of Katherine itself is perforce limited - both by her short life and lack of contemporary source material. However, Gareth Russell deftly layers his material with historical background, tangential biographies, and analyses of other professional opinions on the subject matter. If you enjoy the Tudor period, this book will be delight. While serious and scholarly, it is written with a light touch; Russell's choice of words, descriptions and turns of phrase really bring life to his subject matter.

I wish Audible had additional works by Gareth Russell ... and they really must attach Jenny Funnell to more serious and substantial books than those she currently has on Audible. She has the chops to make more substantial genres - such as this one - highly listenable.

Bottom line: Recommend

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Title Somewhat Misleading

From the title I was looking forward to reading a book with a heavy emphasis on Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife and the second to die by his order on the gallows. There is much information about Catherine however I would estimate that 70% of this volume is a detailed description of the politics and lifestyle of the latter part of the Tudor era.

That being said I am sure that many readers will learn new facts and be curious about the author’s theories regarding young Catherine. As I am not a fan of reviews that are filled with spoilers I do not intend to share too much about this relatively new information. I was intrigued as I listened further to several new revelations that Gareth Russell has unearthed. An example that really got me thinking was his argument regarding the question “Did Henry VIII suffer from congenital syphilis”? I, like many people theorize that this could have been the reason why Henry appeared to be losing his mind and making terrible judgments in the latter years of his life. Gareth Russell seems to dispel this myth.

The Gareth Russell version of Catherine Howard is quite a distant far cry from the hapless Queen Catherine that I have always read about.

There is no doubt that even after all of these years there is still more to be learned about the poor, yet simple minded fifth Queen to stand by Henry VIII’s side.

Jenny Funnel gives yet another excellent performance.

If you are curious about Catherine Howard I think that many readers will find this book compelling.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Very Informative

This was very detailed and factual, but dense reading. At times, I had to back it up to keep track of the current topic. It was interesting but a little dry. A little more encyclopedic than I anticipated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A lot about the times, a little about Catherine

Would you listen to Young and Damned and Fair again? Why?

I would listen to it again, but only certain parts. I appreciate the effort the author took to fill the reader in on the background of the times, but I felt most of the book was just that, background. Rather than focusing on the life of Catherine.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Queen Catherine

What does Jenny Funnell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Jenny Funnell did a fantastic job narrating this piece. Her poise and levity of each scenario places you back in the 1500's easily. Not too dramatic, just perfect.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A lot about the times, a little about Catherine

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful

I have not read any of Mr Russell's work before and was oh so pleased to have found this author. Such well researched and informative work and presented in a manner that didn't send me to sleep. Jenny Funnell's performance was alive, but she did have some 'interesting' pronunciation moments. These, however, did not detract from the overall pleasure of listening. DO TRY ! worth the credits.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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NOT WORTH THE TIME OR CREDIT

This book is about everything EXCEPT Catherine Howard. Irish Parliament, Scottish royalty, every person ever mentioned in books about the Tudor Dynasty. Poor Catherine was Queen Consort for 16 months before being beheaded by the tyrannical old pervert Henry VIII. She added nothing to history and would not even be remembered if she's married a country squire. The author tells us very little about Catherine, instead he filled a book with English mores and customs of the era. You can learn these same facts in Alison Weir's "Henry VIII: King and Court".

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully written and performed!

This is a magnificent work about Catherine Howard, likely Henry VIII's most little known queen. The research is impeccable, the writing is mesmerizing and the subject is fascinating. If you wish to know more about the late Henrican court, this book is a great place to start. I very highly recommend it, as it was enjoyable, knowledgeable and entrancing.

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Dry history

This book was pretty much a recitation of events as well as they could be put together by various historians. It contained many segues that became quite tedious and seemed to have no bearing on her story itself. to be honest, I am still struggling to get all the way through it almost a year later. I wanted to go ahead and write the review so that others were spared my pain.

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Excellent

If you enjoy Tudor history, you will LOVE this book! Extremely well-researched and equally well-written. The narrator was great too!