Tahoe Pine Nuts: The taming of the Queen
September 22, 2016
Facing some daunting summer road trips across Nevada, I asked our capable and resourceful librarian to recommend an audiobook to keep me company while out on America's loneliest roads.
I asked only that the author not be a dead white guy, as I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and she filled the bill with Philippa Gregory's, The Taming of the Queen, narrated by Bianca Amato.
So off I drove, with the blinding Nevada sunrise burning my eyes, and Catherine Parr at my side to keep me from shouting out loud, "I can't see a G_____ thing!"
I had never heard of Catherine Parr, in truth, I have always been prejudiced against nobility, especially English nobility, which we managed to escape around 1776. But I have great faith and trust in our librarians, so I turned up the volume, and committed myself to getting acquainted with Catherine Parr.
Well, there's no small talk with Catherine. She jumps into bed with Thomas Seymour before we're out of Incline Village, and skipping any sort of pillow talk, goes right to work making him forget all about the fact that she is about to marry Henry VIII, King of England, who is not known for his charity.
So now I've got the rising Nevada sun in my eyes and the windows are fogged-up and I have to turn on the defroster, reducing my gas mileage, but I'm learning to like Catherine Parr. And I might mention just here, the narrator of this audiobook, Bianca Amato, does a stellar job of creating an atmosphere.
Next, just as I'm getting to like Catherine, she goes ahead and marries Henry VIII and pretends to love him, even though he's a complete nincompoop, and known spouse abuser of the 10th degree. Catherine, on the other hand, is a free thinker and religious reformer, who wants to leave the dead language of Latin behind, and allow the unwashed to read the Bible in English. Here I had to sympathize with her, as I wrote on my binder in 10th grade, "Latin is a dead language, dead as it can be. It killed the Romans and now it's killing me."
But Henry, not fond of free thinking women, signs a warrant for Catherine's arrest, which, if delivered, will result in her being taken to the tower, put on the rack to make her taller than normal, and set on fire to complete the lesson.
By the time we pulled into Wells, Nevada, I was in love with Catherine Parr, and wanted to grab Henry by the scruff of his beard and teach him a thing or two about manners when it comes to ladies. Still, I was only half way through the audiobook, with Thomas Seymour out to sea and Catherine facing arrest, and I was starting to get a case of the hives.
I'm not going to ruin the last half of the book for you, but will leave you with a rhyme that school boys in Jolly Old England memorize to this day, in trying to keep Henry's wives straight, "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.