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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the standard of Phillipa Gregory, 15 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Forbidden Queen (Kindle Edition)
"The Forbidden Queen (March 2013) presents Katherine de Valois, wife of England's hero King Henry V. A glorious story of political manipulation, intense passion and ultimate tragedy. What a pleasure it has been for me to develop their characters and allow these women to speak to us today." (Anne O Brian's website)

She is not the first author to wish to do this. Jean Plaidy and Anya Seyton - fabulously with Katherine Swynford (and Plantagenet Prince John of Gaunt). What does work well is seeing Katherine Valois' life through her own eyes and some of the historical context (such as restrictions on royal widows) coming alive because of that.

The first half of the book is definitely better - it's more plausible and seems to have more historical evidence behind it.
The second half (focusing on her relationship with commoner Owen Tudor) less so.

What IS interesting (and unsurprising) is that most of us have not heard of Katherine Valois -or indeed most of the women in that era including the currently famous white queen Elizabeth Woodville. What Anne O Brien and Philippa Gregory do well, I think, is allow us to glimpse into the world of women in different eras - particularly painting a role of strong women in a world of female pawn in the high stakes of court politics. That it has taken so long for us to hear of these women illustrates how patriarchal our society in Europe is/has been. While it is good to be able to read between the lines and imagine how life MIGHT HAVE BEEN for those women caught in the trappings of power, and tell their story, most of the narrative is speculative and illustrates how remaining pawns unless allied with powerful bishops princes and 'kingmakers' was the norm.

This book received good reviews including "Better than Philippa Gregory" (The Bookseller) and "Anne O Brien has joined the exclusive club of excellent historical novelists" (Sunday Express) Sadly I don't agree with either at least with regard to The Forbidden Queen ( I haven't read her other works). It was 'stodgy' in places, and lacked historical credibility. It was readable, but not a great read.

In the amazon kindle store there is another novel Queen by Candlelight which is doing the rounds but by a different author. It too focuses in on Katherine Valois - a woman until this week I knew nothing about. I haven't read that but I am wondering why Katherine Valois has suddenly become a historical figure of interest. Perhaps because of another wedding between a commoner of the same name and a member of the royal palace several centuries later?
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Mar 2014 21:59:07 BDT
K. Harvey says:
"Crown By Candlelight" by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (who also wrote "The King's Grey Mare" about Elizabeth Woodville) has been around for many years and is lyrical and highly romantic. I first read it in the 1980's and LOVED it - almost as much as "Katherine" by Anya Seyton which I read at 11. I believe writers like R H Jarman and other historical romancers were neglected until recently when it became "respectable" through writers like Philippa Gregory making megabucks.
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