The Queen's Lover: A Novel

The Queen's Lover: A Novel

by Vanora Bennett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061689871
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/08/2011
Pages: 600
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Vanora Bennett is the author of two acclaimed novels, Portrait of an Unknown Woman and Figures in Silk, and an award-winning journalist. She has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, the Times Literary Supplement, The Times (London), and the BBC. She lives in North London with her husband and two children.

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The Queen's Lover 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
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.
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
I was captivated by the wonderful characters and story Bennett developed in this novel. I was surprised at first how much of the action took place in France--expecting a pre-Tudor novel to be only set in England was naive, I guess! The French have nothing on the English of the time with their behind the scenes machinations and handling of royal lines and unions. I especially enjoyed the very learned Christine de Pizan's role in the young royals lives--and was delighted to find basis in real life for this character as well. Young Princess Catherine's feelings for Welshman Owain Tudor did manage to stand the test of time and Bennett painted a great story to go along with tidbits of history.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
Erin_N More than 1 year ago
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.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Over the last few years I've read a large number of historical fiction books about some of the most strong women in history. Queen Catherine can proudly take her place among them.Although I knew some of the other names in this story (Joan of Arc) this story was one I was unfamiliar with. Catherine, the grandmother to King Henry VII, led a life that was - quite expectedly - filled with its fair share of misery. But she was blessed with one bit of goodness, the friendship of Owain Tudor.Owain, as a Welshman, is living the life of a defeated person. It's interesting reading this book and knowing what I know about the war that defeated the Welsh, because I felt some of the history behind the character. Vanora Bennett did a fantastic job portraying just how difficult it would have been to be a Welshman during that time as well.I thought The Queen's Lover was written well. It isn't a fluffy, filled with romantic notions sort of book, but rather a book that comes off as well researched, filled with interesting facts not only about Catherine, but her son and the issues that were prominent in England and France during the 15th century.
ReviewsbyMolly on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I am truly sad with this book. Having recently become hooked on Tudor era novels and loving them, I was excited about this novel. But, it just didn't hold up to my expectations of this style of book. Please don't get me wrong when I say that. I did stay up reading this novel late into the night. I was very interested in seeing how Catherine and Owain's story played out. And, well, frankly, it just wasn't full of the historical, rich details that I was hoping for. While I thought this book to be just okay, I do hope that others will give this 3 star novel a try. Maybe I'm overlooking something that someone else will see and be completely captivated. Because I love the Tudor era and other historical novels, and because I've heard a great many good things about Ms. Bennett, I will not let this one lacking novel keep me from trying her other books.
bachaney on LibraryThing 3 months ago
"The Queen's Lover" is a retelling of the story of Catherine of Valois, who was a Princess of France, wife to Henry V, and mother of Henry VI. The novel begins when Catherine is a neglected teenager at the French court. Her only friend is her younger brother Charles and the older Christine, an author and widow. Christine introduces Catherine to young Owain Tudor, who will eventually become her lover. As the story moves from Catherine as a child to her marriage to Henry V and her rule as Dowager Queen Mother, her relationship with Owain grows and develops. Will the two end up together in the end, or will their fates ultimately keep them apart? "The Queen's Lover" is an uneven historical romance at best. Their are long passage of the novel that drag (which is really a drag in a nearly 600 page novel!), and parts that don't feel right for 15th century England and France. Catherine is an extremely wishy washy and weak heroine, even for a woman in this period. There were times, as the reader, that I just wanted to shake her for her improbable actions and stances. After reading "Figures in Silk", which I really enjoyed, I was dissapointed by this offering from Bennett.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction about Catherine de Valois and Owain Tudor, both of whom are people I knew of, but not a lot about.Ms. Bennett does a superb job of bringing the time period to life. Her characterizations are deft and sure. She has the courage to allow even a French princess and her Welsh commoner lover to be ordinary and that speaks volumes about her as a writer because sometimes people are just that - ordinary - and that's the extraordinary thing about them, eh?I was particularly touched by the early parts of the book depicting young Catherine and her younger brother, Charles, wandering through the Hotel de Paris - neglected, filthy, and hungry - while the adults around them spiral into out of control violence. In many ways this is a book about being powerless and surviving anyway - even about stealing back some of that power for yourself.It would have been easy for this to be a cliched historical romance, instead it is a richly drawn and well written story of its time and the people in it. Quite lovely.
jshillingford on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I love historical fiction, and I chose this book because I know almost nothing about the Tudors before Henry VIII. Unfortunately, as other reviewers have noted, there are too many outlandish ideas presented to make the story credible. I don¿t expect absolute historical accuracy ¿ this is fictionalized ¿ but I do expect believable descriptions. As a Princess, Catherine had far too much freedom (even within such a dysfunctional family) and I found it farfetched that she would have any opportunity to be alone with the young Owain Tudor, even as a girl. Even more outrageous was that she would be allowed to have sex with Henry V before they were even betrothed, before negotiations had truly begun. And lastly, it was ridiculous to think that the Earl of Warwick would be allowed to physically abuse the child-king Henry VI when he was the only living heir to the throne. These inconsistencies often jarred me out of the fantasy a good story should weave.Also, the title and blurb are misleading and I almost felt cheated. Though this is billed as a love story, fully a third of the novel describes Catherine¿s life at the French Court as a child. Catherine and Owain spend most of the book apart, and do not even become a couple until the last few pages! The blurb describes her as ¿being terrified¿ of marrying the rough soldier and enemy, Henry V, yet the story has her conniving to bring it about so she can escape her horrid family. This would have been better described as just a fictionalized account of her life, with a more appropriate title. The brief epilogue explains how the Tudor dynasty actually began (with Catherine¿s grandson, Henry VII) but we do not see how they got there.However, despite the many flaws in the book, I cannot deny that it was a real page turner which is why I gave it three stars. I finished most of the book in day, eager to see the fallout from the various political machinations and conniving of the royal families. This could have been an outstanding novel if the author had focused more on Catherine and Owain as a couple, and kept the ideas more grounded in reality.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The first half of this book was pretty exciting. Taking place in France and following the teenage life of Catherine de Valois, the story is about the princess, her grotesque and selfish mother, her father (the king) suffering bouts of madness, and of course, miscellaneous dukes fighting constantly for control of the kingdom. Catherine is much like many a modern day teenager. She wishes to marry in order to escape her dysfunctional family. However, the man she has fallen in love with, is not of royal blood. He is a welshman named Owain Tudor. I almost fell in love with him myself. Fabulous so far! But then something rather farfetched occurs. In a time when princesses practically wore chastity belts, Catherine is permitted to have relations with King Henry V in his tent before marriage negotiations are even final? Hmmm... My eyebrows almost popped off my head they flew up so high. The plan works of course and Catherine is married to Henry if only for two years. Meanwhile, Owain is mourning the love of his life and writing poetry about it. Catherine's brother arrests their mother. War breaks out again. After Henry's death, there is much debate over who Catherine will marry again and even a case of child abuse. Will Catherine realize her happiness lies with Owain and thus, birth a new dynasty? Loved the first half and laughed till I cried over Henry digging up the patron saint of hemorrhoids and piles only to afflicted with the runs himself. That was a funny addition. However, I fell asleep on the second half. I think it could be cut back about a hundred pages. I also thought the tent tryst with Henry was too farfetched and Catherine's mother was over exagerrated. I enjoyed Figures in Silk more, so three stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciated the realness of every character in this book. It didn’t come off as a sleazy shallow soap opera as other stories concerning Catherine of Valois have. Very much a page turner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book brought history to life. The authors characters almost walked off the page. Catherine was an extraordinary woman. I was happy to discover she led a fascinating life my history classes had never mentioned. This book absorbed me and kept me online checking my facts. But you need not do that to enjoy this book. I think anyone interested in the human side of history or a good book will be pleased.
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