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112 Reviews
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully evocative...
The King's Concubine is set during reign of Edward III, and describes his relationship with his wife, Philippa of Hainault, and his mistress, Alice Perrers. Little is truly known about the life of Alice Perrers, and yet Anne O'Brien has woven a skilful and believable story about how, in the mid 1360's, young Alice became one of the Queen's waiting women. The way in which...
Published on 4 May 2012 by jaffareadstoo

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying
I found this book hard going, superficial and over-long. The large amount of conversation (some using very modern phrases) and lack of description of the physical world inhabited by the characters made me feel that the story could have been set in any almost any period. The focus of the book is narrow. Surely Alice didn't spend all her time thinking about the King but...
Published 19 months ago by Jacqui O


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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully evocative..., 4 May 2012
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The King's Concubine (Kindle Edition)
The King's Concubine is set during reign of Edward III, and describes his relationship with his wife, Philippa of Hainault, and his mistress, Alice Perrers. Little is truly known about the life of Alice Perrers, and yet Anne O'Brien has woven a skilful and believable story about how, in the mid 1360's, young Alice became one of the Queen's waiting women. The way in which Alice colluded with Queen Philippa in order to begin a sexual relationship with the King, is described in a compassionate and romantic manner. The story quickly evolves into a sympathetic and warm account of an aging king and his love affair, not just with his astute young mistress, but also with his wife, and courtiers. The medieval court is beautifully described and is perfectly placed within the context of the story.
There is much debate about Alice Perrers, and the influence she had on the aging King, she is often depicted as an avaricious, scheming harpy, or as a femme fatale, but in The King's Concubine, Anne O'Brien has given a lighter and possibly more sympathetic view of this charismatic medieval mistress.
I enjoyed this version of Alice's early life, and would definitely recommend this book to my friends who enjoy historical fiction by Philippa Gregory, Vanora Bennett and Emma Campion
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality Romantic Fiction, 26 April 2012
By 
artemisrhi "artemisrhi" (Forest of Dean) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The King's Concubine (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you don't mind if a good story plays around with the facts and you like romantic historical fiction then you will not be disappointed! This is top class stuff, full of contemporary detail of the life, clothes, palaces etc of the English Court. I read this in two evenings! The added bonus of this story is that she makes the King, the Queen and the Concubine all very believable and likable in their menage a trois - tricky thing to pull off I think. I think I might go far as to say that I prefer Anne O Brien to Phillippa Gregory!!!!! Don't tell anyone
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'oh, go on then' choice of book that became a must-read tale., 15 Mar 2012
By 
ROROBLU'S MUM "ROROBLU'S MUM" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The King's Concubine (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book started out as a 'oh, go on then' book - there wasn't too much of a selection left on amazon vine. I intended to skim-read it, as this kind of novel isn't my favourite genre, but I found myself utterly drawn into it from the very beginning, from young, innocent Alice Perrer's convent days. So much so, that I had to read up on her, and on Philippa of Hainault, as both were portrayed as strong women at a time that men had all the power.

The author seems to have very skilfully blended fact with fiction, filling in blanks where history seems to be lacking, and in a very clever, empathetic way, where both women are concerned. I wondered if she especially wanted to make both women powerful in a 'woman behind the man' way.

I found myself intrigued by the author's plot in that it was PoH who made AP the king's mistress, and how willing AP was to serve both king and queen. AP herself came across as a strange blend of strength, innocence, cunning, self-preservation, with a thirst for knowledge and a power of her own - and that was from the age of 16 onwards, which kind of didn't seemed realistic. I do wonder how accurate this could be, given woman's subservience to man at that time, but the author did manage to make (the vilified, according to history) AP out to be...oddly likeable and with a sense of honour and loyalty/duty. I would have hated it if she had been a puppet, easily manipulated and used, but when I tried to find out about her, the author's portrayal seemed totally at odds with historical facts.

Edward himself seemed a strange blend of loving husband, loving lover, yet weakened at the loss of his wife, then further so at the loss of his son, and additionally at what he deemed AP's betrayal. He was also portrayed as being unable to make decisions very well, which I did find very surprising, given the issues with France of the time, which would have required a strong leader...

So, how historically accurate is this novel? Probably not very, from what I read, and realistically, would a queen have been as self-effacing and unselfish as PoH? Probably not, especially in regards inheritance and power, but the tale itself was very well-written, very engaging - I read every page, despite not loving the genre, and despite not liking novels told in the first person. The author is certainly talented with words, and with imbuing feelings and emotions into what could have simply been a tale of 'characters in history long gone'. This was an excellent read that totally drew me in. But, it was first and foremost made out to be a love-story, of different types of love between connected characters. So, if you want it for that alone, whilst it's not all passion, highs and lows (I can't see how various reviewers have described it as a 'romp'), it is a solid read - but perhaps not that historically accurate.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 6 Jan 2013
This review is from: The King's Concubine (Paperback)
I found this book hard going, superficial and over-long. The large amount of conversation (some using very modern phrases) and lack of description of the physical world inhabited by the characters made me feel that the story could have been set in any almost any period. The focus of the book is narrow. Surely Alice didn't spend all her time thinking about the King but had some involvement with her estates and the upbringing of her children?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of the notorious Alice Perrers, 2 Sep 2012
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The King's Concubine (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the second novel by Anne O'Brien that I have read recently, and I have enjoyed them both. Although both novels were written in the first person, a narrative technique that I usually don't like as it is difficult for authors to pull off, I have found O'Brien's writing convincing and applaud her for this.

The protagonist of this particular novel is Alice Perrers, best known as mistress to Edward III. Not an awful lot, it seems, is really known about Alice, at least before her time at court. O'Brien has used known facts and woven her story about these, filling in the gaps with imagination and probability. Historically, Alice Perrers has never come across as a particularly nice person, seeming to be greedy, grasping and manipulative. O'Brien doesn't do a total whitewash job on her, but she does give a more sympathetic portrayal. Her Alice is still keen to acquire land holdings, but seen as a woman who has come from practically nothing and can see what her future might be without royal patronage, it is difficult to really blame her. History has always tended to be written by the victors and by men, and in medieval times they would not have liked a woman stepping out of her 'place' so it is quite understandable that Alice Perrers should have been so vilified.

Overall, I thought this was a good read. I read Vannora Bennett's The People's Queen a while back, which is also about Alice Perrers (she seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance!) but I preferred O'Brien's book. The cover gives O'Brien a plaudit of being 'better than Philippa Gregory'. Well, I can't argue with that as I haven't cared much for either of the books by Gregory that I have read, so I will wholeheartedly agree that O'Brien is much more worth reading! I look forward to her book on Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A proper page turner, 2 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The King's Concubine (Kindle Edition)
I picked this after reading a sample that I couldn't put down. Once I got my hands on the full book my husband was a literary widower.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really?, 23 April 2013
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This review is from: The King's Concubine (Kindle Edition)
Not much to say really. It was good and then I really don't know what happened. It was like climbing a ladder of enjoyment and then falling off into sheer and utter boredom for the remainder of the book. I can happily get through 500+ paged books in a day, but this took me a month. My motivation to finish was only as good as the plot, so practically non existent. Really was a shame because the beginning was gripping. But every great beginning deserves an equally enticing middle and end which didn't happen. This book just wasn't my cup of tea at all.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The King's Concubine, 23 May 2012
By 
Miss E. L. Lawless (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The King's Concubine (Kindle Edition)
[I was given a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review]

2 stars.

Alice Perrers - "England's Most Scandalous Mistress"! Haven't they all been given this dubious title at some point? I wouldn't say that Alice Perrers is the most famous royal concubine - but perhaps that's why a book about her should be more interesting to the jaded historical fiction fan.

Little is known about the real Alice, other than her two marriages and her some 15 year long love affair with King Edward III, during which she displayed impressive foresight and ingenuity by collecting land and manors to see her through when her royal lover is dead. With these scant facts, Anne O'Brien has developed quite a believable - though rather unpalatable - protagonist.

I am struggling with this review because I cannot put my finger on what it was about Anne O'Brien's writing style that I took issue with. It didn't grip me at all; to be honest, I was bored and I skim-read the last quarter of the book (even then it took me over a week to finish, that's a very long time for me!). The story didn't impact on me enough to be able to give a concise review but maybe that is all I need to say...?

With the multitude of truly excellent historical novelists and novels out there, I would recommend that this book be given a miss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars boring, 9 Jan 2013
This review is from: The King's Concubine (Kindle Edition)
i thought this was pretty awful,what i read of it.
very one dimensional, with far too many cliches.
not a patch on phillipa gregory
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 14 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The King's Concubine (Paperback)
I received this book the other day. I havent been able to put it down. What a well written brilliant book this is!! Its up there with Philippa Gregory.
Well rounded characters. I feel like Im really there when Im reading this book. I shall be buying others by this author. Marvellous.
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