Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey Book Tour Day 5 – Q&A with Adrienne

Jan23,2015 #Adrienne Dillard

adrienne_dillard_author_photoA big welcome to Adrienne Dillard, author of Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey, who is visiting us today on Day 5 of her virtual book tour.

Thank you to Adrienne for allowing me to grill her on her thoughts about the Carey and Knollys families, families who are close to my heart and who I have got to ‘know’ through my own research. Adrienne does such a wonderful job at breathing life into them in her novel.

What are your thoughts on Mary Boleyn’s relationship with Henry VIII? Do you think that it was long-lasting?

I really go back and forth on this. Obviously we love the idea of the relationship put forth by novelists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it really occured that way. I kind of like to play “Devil’s Advocate” with myself on this. I definitely can agree with your idea that the very short-lived affair might have happened before Mary was married and was done and over within the blink of an eye. On the other-hand, we really don’t have a concrete date for their affair and, even though William Carey was very close to the king, we can’t rule out that the grants made in the early 1520s were not because of the affair with Mary.

I think the fact that it was known about and remarked on by people of the court points to it being longer than a “one-night stand” situation. Particularly because Henry was so discreet his affairs; the longer it went on, the harder it would have been to hide. I really don’t think it went on for much longer than a year or so and I certainly think it was over before Henry Carey was conceived. I believe that, if Catherine was in fact the king’s daughter, her conception most likely marked the end of the affair.

What are your thoughts on the paternity of Catherine and Henry Carey?

Catherine_Carey_Lady_KnollysI feel like there are some really good arguments that support and dismiss the king being Catherine’s father. Without even considering the grants that William Carey received or the uncanny physical resemblance that Catherine has to Henry, the fact that Catherine was sought for a very coveted position in the queen’s household speaks volumes, particularly after the spectacular fall of the Boleyns. And while I don’t believe that Henry was the king’s son, we do know that he was very well provided for even after 1536 so I think that it shows that the king held Mary and her children in some affection. However, there may be any other number of reasons for the treatment Mary’s children received. So, to answer your question, I do think Catherine was the king’s daughter, but I base it purely on circumstantial evidence and I am definitely not so set in that opinion that I can’t be convinced otherwise.

You paint a vivid picture of Catherine’s loving relationship with her husband, Francis Knollys, what primary sources gave you insight into their relationship?

I would say the most valuable insights came from Francis’s own letters, not only to Catherine but also to William Cecil. During the time of Catherine’s illness, he seems almost desperate to come home and be by her side and he is very adamant to Cecil, even going so far as to speak a bit unkindly about the queen. Being such a devoted courtier, I think he had to be very emotional to be so blunt.

Sir Francis Knollys
Sir Francis Knollys
There are also letters to Francis from Robert Dudley expressing great concern with Catherine’s diet and poor health. The fact that it was so important to him to know how his wife was faring even while he was performing a very serious job for the queen in guarding Mary Queen of Scots, tells me that she was very important to him. I also think that the rolls from the exile colonies listing Catherine and five of their children with him at Frankfurt demonstrate how concerned Francis was with their safety during Mary’s rule. It would have been far easier for him to leave Catherine and the children at home, but he chose to have her with him instead. It is very telling that Francis never remarried after Catherine died. That wasn’t completely unheard of, but it was a bit uncommon for a man of his youth with as many young children as they had.

Elizabeth I appears to have been a volatile woman who was sometimes hard to be close to. How and why do you think that Catherine managed to stay close to her and serve her for so many years?

I think Catherine was very loyal and dedicated. By the time Elizabeth came to the throne, Catherine and Henry were the only members of the Boleyn family left so I am sure it was important to them to dutifully serve their cousin. As difficult as Elizabeth may have been sometimes, both families were very generously rewarded for their service to her. I think the three of them probably felt very duty-bound to one another as the last three remaining Boleyn grandchildren.

Another thought is that Elizabeth may have wondered about their paternity and felt it was prudent to keep them close to her. She had to constantly fight off other familial claims to her throne so it’s possible she was rewarding them in hopes that they would continue their loyalty. Catherine comes across as maternal and I think it truly extended to Elizabeth. Elizabeth was, for all intents and purposes, an orphan at a fairly young age and I think Catherine may have felt a responsibility for her even when she was being difficult. Perhaps more so during those times. She probably had a lot of practice with her own daughter, Lettice, who turned out to be an awful lot like Elizabeth!

It must have been heart-breaking for Francis Knollys to be separated from his wife when she was grievously ill, why do you think Elizabeth I would not let the couple be together?

I honestly don’t think Elizabeth believed that Catherine would die. There were a few times during that period where she would get sick, but she always seemed to rally and I think Elizbeth probably thought that was the case. We also can’t discount the importance of what Francis was doing. The Scots Queen was a real threat to Elizabeth and it really seems like Francis was the only person she trusted to look after her interests. It was a very unique situation. I don’t think she intended to be cruel, but at the time neutralizing the Scots Queen was a bigger priority.

Do the primary sources give us any insight into Catherine’s relationships with her children?

Lettice, one of Catherine's daughters
Lettice, one of Catherine’s daughters
I scoured as many primary records as I could find, but I found very little reference to Catherine’s relationships with her children. I make a pretty big assumption that she was close to them. Obviously she was close to Francis and had a tight bond with Elizabeth so I inferred that her relationships with her children were very similar. I definitely think the fact that she brought five of them with her to Frankfurt supports that she kept them as close as she could.

Hilary Mantel has recently spoken about the importance of accuracy in historical fiction, what are your thoughts on this? How did you approach your historical novel?

I think accuracy is of the highest importance in historical fiction. These are not “characters,” they were once living, breathing people and it is our responsibility to uphold their legacies. If someone were fictionalizing your life, wouldn’t you want them to be accurate?

There is certainly a place for fictionalized details because we obviously don’t know what people said or thought, but I think that the events we make up should have some basis in fact or at least be probable. In Cor Rotto, Jane Rochford suffers a miscarriage. Do I have any evidence to back up that she had one? No, not at all. Is it possible she did? Yes, certainly. We aren’t going to find a complete historical record of anyone’s life and we do still have to weave a story that will hold the reader’s interest, but I think that there is a lot we can infer from what information we do have that allows us to tell a credible story without slandering the reputation of our subject. Readers put their trust in writers to sell them something authentic. If a writer wants to make bold changes, at the very least they should let the reader know at the end of the story and give them a direction in which to search for more accurate history. I tried to keep as much historically accurate as possible and I think I probably went into overkill in my Author’s Notes but I wanted the reader to know exactly what was made up and why.

Are you working on a novel at the moment? If so, what about?

At this exact moment, I am not. However, in the next couple of months I will start researching my next project which will be a novel on Jane Rochford. She is so often painted as such a horrible person and I don’t think she has had a chance to tell her side of the story. She’s really been made into quite a scapegoat over the years and I think it’s time she got her due.

In your author bio, you mention your research on the American Revolutionary War and the sinking of the Titanic, will you be writing novels about those in the future?

I have considered writing a novel set during the sinking of the Titanic, but I haven’t given it much thought yet. I definitely need to consider an approach to it that hasn’t been done before. It seems like the story of the Titanic has been done excellently and from many different perspectives, but I definitely think that there may be more to discover. This summer I visited the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California and I kind of fell in love with Titanic all over again. As different as the ships are, it really did give you a small taste of the sense of what it might have been like to be on such a grand ship. As for the Revolutionary War, I’ve moved on a bit from that era at this point, but I think that once I’ve satisfied my Tudor obsession I would definitely be interested in revisiting both of those time periods with a view to witing about them.


For your chance to win a copy of Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey, simply leave a comment below saying why you’d like to read it. Leave your comment before midnight on Friday 30th January. I will email the winner shortly after.

Here’s the schedule for Adrienne’s book tour:


Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey

The dream was always the same… the scaffold before me. I stared on in horror as the sword sliced my aunt’s head from her swan-like neck. The executioner raised her severed head into the air by its long chestnut locks. The last thing I remembered before my world turned black was my own scream.

Fifteen year-old Catherine Carey has been dreaming the same dream for three years, since the bloody execution of her aunt Queen Anne Boleyn. Her only comfort is that she and her family are safe in Calais, away from the intrigues of Henry VIII’s court. But now Catherine has been chosen to serve Henry VIII’s new wife, Queen Anne of Cleves.
Just before she sets off for England, she learns the family secret: the true identity of her father, a man she considers to be a monster and a man she will shortly meet.

Adrienne Dillard, author of Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey, is a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with emphasis in History from Montana State University-Northern.
Adrienne has been an eager student of history for most of her life and has completed in-depth research on the American Revolutionary War time period in American History and the history and sinking of the Titanic. Her senior university capstone paper was on the discrepancies in passenger lists on the ill-fated liner and Adrienne was able to work with Philip Hind of Encyclopedia Titanica for much of her research on that subject.
Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey is her first published novel.

Adrienne’s book is available now from, Amazon UK and your usual bookstore.

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88 thoughts on “Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey Book Tour Day 5 – Q&A with Adrienne”
  1. As all accounts of the boleyns focus on Anne, it would be interesting to read about the fate of her ancestors and how they were connected to Elizabeth. The family seem to continue to be both colourful and remained serving at court. That is most fascinating to me!

  2. I’d love to have a chance at winning this book because I love reading tudor fiction and would like to find out more about Catherine Carey x

  3. im absolutely addicted to anything Tudor at the moment I’m watching all the TV programmes DVDs listening to
    Podcasts and trying to get my hands on any books I can. Just watched the start of wolf hall and watched the other Boleyn girl and read Philippa Gregory’s series would love this book as it would follow on nicely from all these

  4. As a ancestor in my family worked for the Boleyns for many years and was very close to them I love reading about them in any form. But nice to see Catherine get some of the limelight…

  5. I’ve heard good things and seen some excellent reviews on this book.I also have had a long interest in the Careys and have been unable to find too much so I’m very pleased to be given the opportunity to win it.It sounds really fascinating!

  6. A chance to read more about the Tudors How can I resist Sarah Morris really whetted my appetite last year so this is a great follow up

  7. Great interview! The book sounds intriguing. I’d love to read it because I haven’t read much about Catherine Carey and I’d love to see how exactly you portray her relationship with Elizabeth I and her mother Mary’s relationship with King Henry.

  8. I have always had a fascination with the Carey family, and how they were connected to The Tudors. I think this book will give an insight to what it would be like to be a part of this intriguing family.

  9. I’d love to read this book because I’ve always been interested in Henry VIII and his wives/children. I also love when people write stories around historical events or people. This sounds like a very good book from the descriptions.

  10. inhave not read any book about Catherine would be interesting to read about a less known Tudor for a change .

  11. It was through historical fiction that I finally began to understand the “who-is-who” confusion of Medieval England, especially the before and after Tudor period. As a language teacher to international students, I have always wanted to give something more to my students and I find they enjoy the lessons much more now than they did before, for they can also learn about the main characters and their intentions and culture and everything connected to the period when the language of nowadays was born and had begun to form. It’s not a secret at all that I myself am absolutely smitten by this period and already have a nice collection (actually a whole wall lined with shelves and filled with) books of this topic. They Mary Boleyn line, I feel, has quite unfairly been not so often talked about, so it refreshing to have a valuable member of Tudor – collection which is not about Henry himself. 🙂 I so much would like to have it!

  12. I would LOVE to read this book! I have always been fascinated with “The Royals” and the people around them. Especially the older royals. This sounds like a fantastic read. Thank you for considering me.

  13. I love reading about the Boleyn . I have always wondered what happened to Mary’s daughter Catherine It sounds like a great book to read. And I would let my kids read it or tell them about it as I do with any book.

  14. I love reading about the Tudors. They are probably my favorite line of royals (and not b/c of how many times King Henry VIII married)

  15. I’d love to read this book about Catherine Carey because I know very little about the Carey/Knollys families and they sound like a fascinating family.

  16. A lot of popular focus is on Mary and Anne, and then on Elizabeth. It would be quite an interesting chance to read more about Mary’s daughter Catherine. This entire era was so volatile, it’s amazing that we know so little about some of these family member who were in reality so close to the throne.

  17. I’m Tudor obsessed, along with the rest of your blog followers! Another book I can’t wait to read. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  18. I love anything to do with Tudor era ..I have read many books about this time but nothing on Catherine..currently on Henry and his wives and many mistresses!! Congrats on book and look forward to reading

  19. I read Ardienne’s article “The sanctity of character” in Susan Bordo’s site and become very interested in her novel.

  20. I love reading about this period in England’s history so I would love to read this book! There’s not been a whole lot said about Catherine so I’d like to be able to read it and learn a bit more about her and her role in history.

  21. Reading about the Tudor Period, for me is like drinking from a fire hose and Iam still thirsty. This is an obsession that I have had for almost half my life.

  22. How wonderful to finally get a glimpse of another side of the Boleyn family. I have an unending penchant for the court intrigue of the Tudor era, especially involving Elizabeth I. I have always felt she was extremely insecure in spite of being a powerful leader. To have Catherine by her side and perhaps feeling somewhat safe in having her as a confidant-well, I am looking forward to this read, believe me!

  23. I love everything to do with Tudor history! I recently have read everything I can get on Anne bolyen. I think reading about a different bolyen generation would be insightful.

  24. I would like to read more about Catherine Carey … I read somewhere, though, that William Carey was related to Henry VIII (I think on the Margaret Beaufort side); did Catherine share any resemblance to Henry’s other relatives?


  25. Catherine Carey has an amazing history and I would love to learn more about her. I have always thought (personally) that Catherine WAS Henry’s daughter but that Henry was not his son (and the doubt it could be Carey’s). To me, she DOES look like Henry VIII from the portraits. Interesting woman.
    Dawn Pinnataro

  26. I am so in love with the tudors and the history of king henry and all his wives and children he may or may not have had. I would feel honored to add this book to my library.

  27. I have been obsessed with Anne Boleyn since I saw Anne of the Thousand Days as a child. I try to read every new book that relates to her, her family and the major players of the time as I think it’s only by looking at the period and her life through many different eyes that we can hope to have any real idea of what she was truly like. The fate of other members of the Boleyn family after Anne’s demise might help to give an insight into Henry VIII’s feelings of events after some years had passed., so I would love to have a copy of this book in order to continue the journey I started many years ago, researching the Boleyn family.

  28. I would like to hear this author’s take on Catherine Carey because there is not much known about her life. It’s time that she gets back her own voice, tell her story the way she would want it told-however unique that author imagines her voice to be. In short, what was it like to be Catherine Carey growing up being the niece of Queen Anne, and possible, just possibly, the unacknowledged daughter to Henry VIII

  29. I enjoyed reading your piece about Catherine Carey and her possible parentage. Catherine Carey does resemble Elizabeth I a lot in the eyes and facial features but maybe it’s just because they are cousins. However if she was indeed the king’s daughter it might explain why he never acknowledged her but did for Henry Fitzroy. I mean she was a girl and he probably didn’t figure he would want to after all his attention shifted to the aunt. However it could have also been because Mary was married at the time also whereas; Betsy Blount was not and he was a boy striking home the point it was not Henry’s fault with Catherine of Aragon’s obstetric history . However there was one man who stayed Henry Carey was his son and he was executed for it. It might be why even though Anne died, the children were still favored somewhat.

  30. I always had this question in the back of my head, “Did Anne or George Boleyn secretly see to Mary after she married a commoner?” I have seen no evidence of this, but it is one idea that both bridges the gap and makes sense.

  31. “The dream was always the same… the scaffold before me. I stared on in horror as the sword sliced my aunt’s head from her swan-like neck. The executioner raised her severed head into the air by its long chestnut locks. The last thing I remembered before my world turned black was my own scream.”

    I love the fact that this paragraph grabs your attention from the very start. The details in this one paragraph are so vivid, I can picture it in my mind and almost feel what Catherine must have felt that very day.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of it.

  32. I feel historical fiction must elicit “the chriill of the chase” for the author checking to find facts and filling in the blanks with logic. The story of Catherine Carey intrigues me and I hope to win a copy of your fascinating work. I especially enjoy seeing the portraits of the historical characters.

  33. I started reading history book with Jean Plaidy, then I loved Phillipa Gregory One I find an author I like I have to read everything they write this would be a nice start to see if I get hooked.

  34. It sounds like an interesting novel – I enjoy reading about the Tudors, both novels and nonfiction – I don’t think I’ve ever read one about Catherine. Good luck with your book tour and future writings.

  35. I would love to read/win a copy of this book! It is so refreshing to see a novel about a different Tudor/Boleyn! Thank you!

  36. I love anything having to do with English history,especially the Tudor Era. Catherine Carey howver,I have not found much information about her. I know it was rumored she may have been King Henry VIII ‘s daughter because of her physical attribute of flame auburn hair and pale complexion. It would be interesting to find out more of her story. It is for that reason that I would love to be able to win this book.

  37. Sounds like an interesting read— I am looking forward to reading it! It is an exspansion Tudor history, that previously has been neglected.

  38. It would be interesting to about other people who lived in the Tudor era. Besides what we know of King Henry and Anne Boleyn. Learning about Catherine’s life would add more to history. I’ve always been fascinated with history. I enjoy reading history based books by authors who have a real interest in what they are writing. To make a book people will remember.

  39. I am so hooked on Tudor history! As a modern woman I struggle to get my head around Henry Vlll ‘s behaviour towards the women in his life. I have just started reading about this period in history and I find my self shocked and facinated at the same time. It all started with Alison Weir’s book on Mary Boleyn which I picked up in an airport to read on a long flight – could not put it down. And so Mary Boleyn and her family have been my introduction into this fascinating world.

  40. I’ve become weary of fiction based on the Tudors which claims historic roots but which is largely made up so had avoided this book. However, having read the Q&A I’m really keen to give this one a go. Adrienne Dillard’s approach is exactly what I want in historical fiction

  41. Catherine Carey has always been one of history’s shadowy figures to me, yet she was so close to Elizabeth. I would love to see her fleshed out in this novel. Sounds really interesting.

  42. I’d love to read this book, as I am totally enthralled with anything having to do with the Tudor Era. In reading this interview, I appreciated her statement, “I think accuracy is of the highest importance in historical fiction.” I fully agree with Adrienne on this point!

  43. I would like to read this because the characters’ perspective will be so fresh, they won’t necessarily be the Tudor characters everybody would recognize

  44. I will read this book because I love anything to do with the Boleyns and/or Tudors. It’s always interesting to see familiar people through others eyes.

  45. I love reading anything about the Tudors especially Anne Boleyn. I would love to read about Catherine Carey, while it is fun to read about the most famous people during the Tudor era, it would be very interesting to read about one of the real people who were in the background.

  46. I’m fairly new to Tudor England, and I got launched into their world through The Other Boleyn Girl, which also posits that Catherine was Henry’s daughter. (There’s a lot of other discrepancies in the book which I learned as I began to get into the history outside of the fiction) but I always love new books about the time period!

  47. The story of the Boleyns has always been a fascinating one with historians and readers of history. The extension of this family is one that has been somewhat ignored over time and Adrienne has now completed that avenue by expounding on the life and times of Catherine Carey. It is a fascinating avenue indeed and one of much interest to read.

  48. I read the author ‘s expertise is on the Revolutionary War, and Titanic’s history, two of my most favorite historical events! But, I have recently discovered that I’m enthralled with the history of the 15tth-16th c., more specifically the Plantagenets, the Tudors, and everything about each Royal Family, and all the intrigues.
    I’ve read extensively about Anne, and also Mary, her sister. It would be interesting to put what took place between their generations and their descendants, especially surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s reign.
    Suzanne M. Belcher

  49. I’d love to read her book because I haven’t read anything on Catherine yet and would love to get my hands on something that is specifically about her. I highly enjoy historical biographies and would like to see new information on Catherine and her life.

  50. Every Wednesday I pay my respects to both the Carey children in Westminster Abbey before moving round the corner to the tomb of Elizabeth I and Mary. (Henry Carey has the biggest tomb/monument of anybody in the Abbey, including Edward the Confessor!) And yet I know so little about them. I would love to know more, albeit through ‘faction’ and am sure Adrienne will do them justice. You can’t beat Tudor history!

  51. It definitely looks as though we’re going to be able to add another author to our list of Tudor authors like Norah Lofts, Phillippa Gregory, Susannah Dunn etc who bring to life all our favourite Tudor characters.
    I loved the first paragraph – it gives me the impression that this is going to be a ‘can’t put it down’ book! The only problem is that there aren’t any more to read after this yet, so please start writing the next one!

  52. i do not know a great deal about Catherine. Perhaps it would enlighten me if I was fortunate to win a copy. I read everything Tudor.

  53. Catherine Carey is someone who is mentioned in passing but obviously deserves to have her interesting and fascinating story told – and here is the opportunity for us all to read it

  54. i am slightly obsessed with the the Tudor period. And I’m a big fan of historical fiction. I would love to read this book and learn about Catherine and her family.

  55. i am slightly obsessed with the the Tudor period. And I’m a big fan of historical fiction. I would love to read this book and learn about Catherine and her family.

  56. I’m fascinated by all thing Tudor. Would be so interesting to read about other members of their family. Love history!

  57. As much as I LOVE Anne Boleyn, I have always been interested in the rest of her family. I never felt Jane Rochford was such a villain, nor was George Boleyn such a wastral. For some reason I never thought Mary Boleyn’s children were Henrys, he would not be above recognizing them especially a boy, as he did Henry Fitzroy( did nto matter if he was a bastard ).

  58. I want to read this book to get a glimpse of family line that is so interesting yet rarely explored. The controversy of Catherine’s birth, and the fascinating tudor times makes this book a must read!!

  59. I would love to read this book as I find Catherine Carey’s story fascinating. I love her mother, Mary, as well. As one of the last Boleyns from the King Henry VIII court, her story is remarkable. From her marriage to her relationship with Queen Elizabeth, Catherine led a very full and amazing life.

  60. I bought the e book and am enjoying it a lot, but I’d really also like to have it in hardback. Thanks, Barnettbuff

  61. I always love to learn more about those lessor known Tudors – The book sounds like it will be a fascinating read.

  62. I will enjoy reading this as I know very little about Catherine Carey, almost overshadowed by her famous Aunt and Mother, I would like to read more about her life, her relationship with Elizabeth and how she coped with the events that rocked the Boleyn family later in her life. Looking forward to purchasing and delving in!

  63. I think that Catherine sounds like a very fascinating woman. She seems to have known how to diplomatically survive in some very dangerous times. Not only that, but she managed to raise a large family at the same time, and seemed beloved by both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I despite her Boleyn connections. It is usually the brash and bold that we read about most often throughout history, and we don’t always get a chance to meet the everyday people of the court and the country. I would love to learn more about Catherine and this sounds like a wonderful book!

  64. I would love to read Ms. Dillard’s book based on her response to the statement made by Hilary Mantel. I do not think that Hilary is the only writer who does justice to historical fiction. Ms. Dillard’s response is so honest and I find so modest even though she is obviously very talented, I would love to read her book on Catherine Carey. No doubt it will be an excellent read!

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