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The Queen's Lover

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Historical Fiction

    The era toward the end of the colorful Plantagenets and the start of the feisty Tudors is one fiction writers don't always celebrate. Ms. Bennett does, and unfolds a delicious tale of the earliest beginnings of the Tudors, which start when a queen and a dispossessed Welsh courtier fall in love. Catherine of Valois is the youngest daughter of the dysfunctional and sad French royal family. Ultimately she marries Henry V of England, and produces the necessary heir; when the king dies unexpectedly she prepares to be shunted aside, married off, and more or less forgotten. But life has other plans for her and for Owain Tudor, who has loved her unreservedly for many years. I found this book even better than Figures in Silk, another book by this author which is also terrific. This is a real page-turner, and the reader is totally immersed in the time and place, as well as in the seemingly doomed love affair of two very sympathetic people.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a strong historical biographical fiction

    The Queen's Lover
    Vanora Bennett
    Morrow, Mar 16 2010, $25.99
    ISBN: 9780061689864

    As the English cross the Channel invading France, French princess Catherine de Valois feels neglected and alone as she always has, but now her fear has increased dramatically. She knows she cannot turn to her father insane King Charles VI or her mother self-indulgent Queen Isabeau. A timorous person by nature, who would choose flight over fight, , she realizes her escape from war torn France is as the wife of English King Henry V. Her only haven in the royal storm is her tutor, poet Christine de Pizan.

    Soldier-poet Owain Tudor is part of the Welsh royalty imprisoned by the English monarchy. He has become a page in the court of King Henry V. Christine introduces her only student to Owain. They become close friends although she is now the Queen of England and mother to the ruler of France and England.

    This is a strong historical biographical fiction of a woman surviving royal intrigue in two countries. Title aside, this is Catherine's tale although Owain plays a major role. Readers will relish this strong look at the French and English courts before and after Agincourt through the eyes of the person who knew first hand the good, the bad, and the ugly of both monarchies.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    Excellent read!

    During the 100 year war, little Catherine de Valois had much to worry about. Her father, the King of France was mad; her mother an adulterer; her brothers, uncles, and cousins were destroying France with their infighting; England had invaded and won; and she and her brother Charlie were all but completely neglected by their parents and the palace staff. But, to make things worse, Catherine had fallen in love with a landless, title less Welshman. Promised in marriage to the conquering King Henry V of England, Catherine begins to understand her royal blood cannot save her from her fate or from a broken heart.

    Owen Tudor, son of a Welsh insurgent, was sent to King Henry IV as a ward after his father fled the British Isles and his family captured. Growing up in the royal household, he overlooked the lack of civil rights he and his fellow Welshmen suffered during the reigns of Henry IV and V (the Lancastrian kings). His loyalty to the English crown was so complete that he willingly accompanied Duke Thomas of Clarence to France on the mission to offer a marriage proposal to the youngest daughter of King Charles VI, the mentally disturbed and vanquished Lord in Paris. Little did Owen realize that this trip would inspire a love of the written word, the love of a beautiful princess, and lifetime where his devotion to his king is tested.

    Christine de Pizan, known as Europe's First Feminist, grew up as a friend and companion to the Royal de Valois children in France. Her life-long companionship with Charles VI and her fame brought about by her published works of poetry won her the position of tutor to Catherine and Charles, the youngest (and most neglected) children of Charles VI and Isabeau. Christine loved France deeply and she truly believed in the sanctity of royal blood. When she heard that her student, Catherine, had been promised in marriage to the usurper Henry V of England, she turned her back on the would-be daughter and supported young Charles in his endless fight to wrest France from English rule.

    Jehanne of Arc was a teenage girl who followed the voices she thought to be that of God. These voices told her that Charles de Valois was the true heir to the French thrown, not the son of English Henry V and Catherine de Valois. God told her to wear men's clothing and to join Charles' efforts. So deep was her belief that she successfully led Charles to many victories and even successfully had Charles coroneted in Reims. Despite her efforts, she was abandoned to the English, who promptly put her to death for heresy. Her efforts also won her the admiration of Christine de Pizan, whose last published works was an epic poem in Jehanne's honor and support from a heart sick French Princess living as an English Queen Mother.

    Vanora Bennett brings to life France and England at the end of the Hundred Year War and demonstrates how a couple of young impetuous lovers can found one of the most famous English Dynasties that history has ever seen. The Queen's Lover is a captivating story taking place in the landscape of a Europe in chaos as the ancient aristocracies crumbled and a new world order emerged.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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