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Blood Royal Paperback – 18 Feb 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

Read an extract [PDF]
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; paperback / softback edition (18 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007281927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007281923
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for ‘Blood Royal’:

‘Bennett writes thoughtful, well-researched historical fiction, finding connections between past and present without too much silliness or fact-bending, and with plenty of romance. Enormous, in every sense of the word’ The Times

‘A page-turning story, successfully evoking the atmosphere of intrigue and fear that beset the times’
Daily Mail

'A skilful blend of fact and fiction. [Bennett's] characters, story, and fluid writing style sweep you along in a pageant of medieval life. This is quite simply an excellent read!' Historical Novel Society

Praise for ‘Portrait of an Unknown Woman’:

'Bennett's background detail is impeccable – part love story, part thriller, all excellently imagined and written.' The Times

'There is plenty to admire and enjoy in Bennett's portrayal of a society convulsed by radical change…Vanora Bennett is a writer to watch.' Times Literary Supplement

'Distinguished…Romance, intrigue and art history are confidently blended, and Holbein canvases are afforded starring roles.' Daily Mail

‘If you want a classier-than-average romantic read, one contender is this fine historical debut, a ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’-style tale.’
Sunday Times

'An atmospheric, passionate novel set against a backdrop of religious and political upheaval.' Woman and Home

Review

Comparatively little is known about the rather bizarre life of Catherine de Valois, wife of Henry V, but one of the best historical novelists around has conjured up a fascinating portrait of this forgotten queen. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was always told that I shouldn't learn my history from Shakespeare, but I'm afraid that's what I did because I hated history at school and loved Shakespeare. Living just a short drive from Stratford-upon-Avon at the time, I rarely missed a production. Henry V was a particular favourite, partly because it was one of our O-Level plays so I knew it really well. Our whole class was taken to see Olivier's film version, whereupon we all fell madly in love with Olivier. As a result, a novel about Henry V's wife, Catherine de Valois, was irresistible.

In Vanora Bennett's story, Catherine, daughter of the schizophrenic Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria, led a neglected childhood with barely enough to eat. She spent her days playing in the gardens with her younger brother Charles, later the Dauphin and eventually Charles VII of France. Her only friend, the learned Christine de Pizan, was a major influence on her young life. It was Christine who encouraged the friendship that developed between the teenage Catherine and Owain Tudor, a young Welshman under the protection of Henry V of England, encouragement that she later came to regret.

Henry was a soldier king who inspired his people and kept peace within his own country. His ambitions lay in extending his territory in France beyond the gates of Calais, which was already occupied by the English. His victory at Agincourt was familiar from Shakespeare's play, but the rest of the story was new and fascinating.

Surrounded by squabbling French Dukes, and listening to Owain's talk of peaceful coexistence within the English Court, Catherine is determined to secure the proposed marriage with Henry, but his terms are too demanding.
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Format: Paperback
To anyone familiar with medieval English history it's always been an intriguing story - just how did Henry V's widow Catherine de Valois end up with the lowly Owain Tudor? - and one that would make a great historical novel.
I thought I'd been completely put off this author after struggling through The People's Queen, but she's very good at selecting an interesting subject, and the blurb persuaded me to give her another try. I didn't think this was quite as bad, but I was disappointed yet again.
The narrative lacks purpose and focus: instead of sticking with Catherine, she seems determined to skim through everything in the history books, only to either opt out at the last minute (don't take us to Agincourt at all if you're not going to do it properly!) or to go off in some very unecessary directions (like the Joan of Arc scenes). It's all very aimless and superficial.
The same could be said of the characters - what a wasted opportunity. Catherine, the daughter, widow and mother of kings, ended up marrying (probably) a Welsh nobody - surely theirs was one of the greatest love stories and scandals of the age? Yet Ms Bennett has managed to make it dull and repetitive, so it's very hard to care about these people. And she tells us what to think throughout (... 'He could never get away from what the lost Welsh war had made him' ...) instead of showing us events and letting us draw our own conclusions.
My final criticism comes with apologies to the author who, after all, had the energy and talent to write a book and get it published and who might, for all I know, have spent many months in the British Library looking up primary sources. But ...
...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps it has some errors of history, but I have decided that if a story is about someone I know little about, I will read & not question too deeply. After all, Catherine de Valois was someone who had some of her life passed by, not recorded. This leads me to think we cannot always say we know history, but rather, what we believe history to be.

Like so many women, her life was meant to be as a wife & mother, nothing else. That she was able to find love as a widow is a bonus.
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After reading both 'The Red Queen' and 'The White Queen' by Phillipa Gregory, I quickly became interested in the Tudor family (the ones before Henry VIII), and the Wars of the Roses. After being shocked by Owen Tudor's unceremonious death in 'The Red Queen', I decided that reading about his could be quite interesting. While this book was interesting, I felt that the author had aimed more for romance than accuracy, as far as historical novels go. While this is not a bad thing, I wish that someone had warned me of this.

This is the story of Catherine of Valois, daughter of King Charles VI of France, who famously became mad in the later years of his life, and Isabeau of Bavaria. While we are quickly led to believe that Isabeau is an unfaithful wife, who is cruel to her children (or, rather ignores them to the point of cruelty), we see Catherine being unflinchingly loyal to her in later life. The character of Christine de Pizan, a feminist before her time, is a definately more maternal influence in Catherine's life, and yet when it suits Catherine, Christine is forgotten. Also, while Catherine is obviously in love with Owen, she is also cruel to him after he rejects her, when it is clearly for her own good. The character of Catherine has been warped slightly, in order for her to do a string of things which someone would not naturally do. Although this is irritating, it is possible to overlook, if you persevere with the story.

Owen Tudor (spelt 'Owain', in the Welsh way, throughout the book) is a patriotic Welshman at heart, who pretends to be Breton if being Welsh would hurt him at that particular time. He is a kindered spirit, a lonely cousin of Owain Glendwr, and a Welshman among the English, just as Catherine is a Frenchwoman among them. Is this too good to be true? Hardly.
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