Title: The Queen’s Lover
Author: Vanora Bennett
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition
Publication Date: March 8, 2011
Paperback: 624 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
From the Publisher:
Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king Charles VI, is born into troubled times. Though she is brought up in a royal court, it is a stormy and unstable environment. Before she is out of her teens, Catherine is married off to England’s Henry V as part of a treaty honoring his victory over France. She is terrified at the idea of being married to a man who is a foreigner, an enemy, and a rough soldier, and is forced to leave her home for England.
Within two years she is widowed, and mother to the future King of England and France—even though her brother has laid claim to the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions of her own family and under threat by the powerful lords of the English court, she must find a way to keep her infant son safe. In Owain Tudor, a childhood friend for whom Catherine has long had affection and who now controls the Royal household, Catherine finds both strength and kinship. As their friendship turns to love, however, she risks not only her life and that of her son but the uneasy balance of power in England and France that will be forever changed.
History comes alive in this lyrical and moving true story of one woman’s courage and the inception of one of the most famous royal lineages of all time.
I adore history and there is a fair bit of it to digest in the nine parts that make up The Queen’s Lover by Vanora Bennett. The book is essentially about the love affair between Owain Tudor and Catherine, during the time when Catherine of Valois is married to Henry V of England and is subsequently widowed. Whether or not Owain and Catherine’s marriage was actually acknowledged remains a debate, but this is a work of fiction, the fact remains that their union, while unhappy, ends for them both, eventually provided heirs to the thrown. Bennett introduces the reader to the French court and a very young Owain Tudor, which is a refreshing change of events and allows the reader to learn more about Owain’s childhood, what happened to his Welsh countrymen and family, and how he entered the service of King Henry V. Catherine’s childhood was less tumultuous than Owain’s, however her family life was less than ideal for a Princess. The Queen’s Lover begins as a very fast paced read and eventually becomes mired in extensive details, some of which I can neither prove nor disprove without research, but again, this is a work of historical fiction. There is no doubt that Bennett spins an intriguing tale of two adolescents who would eventually alter the course of history but not without sacrifices along the way. The character development is strong, Owain is an affable character and Catherine is not only a strong French Princess but makes for a strong Queen of England and a powerful and resilient widow. I did enjoy reading The Queen’s Lover and must say this is probably the most unique and creative version of Owain and Catherine I have read to date. The book is long, vividly detailed, filled with a lot of history, and at times can appear a bit overbearing, yet it still makes for exceptional reading. For those who enjoy historical fiction and do not fear long books, this one comes in around 575 pages; The Queen’s Lover may indeed be the right book to try. I would be remiss to add that at the conclusion of the book, Bennett includes historical notes, how she came to choose this topic as well as describing 15th century France. For those who may not quite be up to date on this time period, Bennett has it covered with a timeline of the major events listed at the end of the book. The Queen’s Lover was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction.
An award-winning journalist, Vanora Bennett is the author of Portrait of an Unknown Woman and Figures in Silk. She lives in North London with her husband and two children.
To learn more about the author please visit her website.
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I received a complimentary copy of The Queen’s Lover by Vanora Bennett from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.