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Catherine of Braganza: Charles II's Restoration Queen Paperback – 28 Apr 2017
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History is more interesting when spiced with royal drama. "Catherine of Braganza: Charles II's Restoration Queen" by Sarah-Beth Watkins is a short biography of Queen Catherine of England, who reigned from 1662-1685. Her marriage to King Charles II, a king on shaky ground as he had previously been usurped, was an alliance match. The book focuses much on her struggles as a foreign bride - she was a princess from Portugal - and the problems of being a Catholic noble in the hostile, Anglican-leaning English courts. I found myself finishing the book in a matter of hours, as Catherine's history was so engaging that I had to know how it turned out...--Diana Fossett, Dixie Sun News -The Voice Of Dixie State University
I liked the book so much I read it all in one sitting. I definitely plan to look into more of her books.--Kelly Wells, GoodReads
About the Author
Sarah-Beth Watkins works in publishing and has a BA in Social Policy. She grew up in Richmond, Surrey and began soaking up history from an early age. Her love of writing has seen her articles published in various publications over the past twenty years. Her history works are Ireland's Suffragettes (The History Press), Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII (Chronos) and The Tudor Brandons (Chronos). Sarah-Beth lives in County Wexford, Ireland.
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The prose reads as if written for children except that she occasionally makes a foray into a word such as 'tantamount' or 'compunction', making it embarrassingly obviously that she doesn't know what they mean or how to use them.
I was so taken aback by the poor quality of this biography that I checked out the publisher. It looks from their website very much as if writers pay them to publish their work. That explains the elementary mistakes that an editor would, hopefully, have picked up. At one point she even refers to the future James II's daughter as his step-daughters! I wouldn't have bought it if I'd realised.
That's a few hours I won't get back.
Once again Watkins manages to introduce me to someone I’ve heard of but knew very little..and it’s a very compelling tale indeed.. Catherine didn’t have things easy in her life.
The years with Charles were tough..he wanted an heir that she just couldn’t provide and the author manged to convey the struggle she must have been going through. Charles’s treatment of Catherine at times was harsh and scandalous but at others he showed his loyalty to her.
Catherine does her best to fit in at the English court despite the obvious hatred some held for her, she must have been a very strong woman indeed.
Overall it’s a very captivating tale. There’s plots galore and mistresses as you’d expect from the time but the tale really does open your eyes to someone we should really know more about..too many people in history are overshadowed..Catherine should not be one of them.
If you enjoy fact more than fiction give this book a go and if indeed you prefer fiction I still suggest you read the book. I never would have thought I would enjoy a tale such as this, a biography, “where’s the action” I always thought..but how wrong I was. It’s full of excitement and so much more.
Sarah-Beth Watkins definitely makes me want to read/learn more history.. there’s so much out there to explore.
My thanks go to Chronos Books for providing a copy of the book for review.
Although a historian myself, anything after the Tudors does almost defeat me because it's not a period I've studied at great length - and this is probably just the right sort of book for me to read about a time period I know little about.
The author's tone is light, and dispenses with any sort of discussion about sources and their reliability, rather focusing on what can be pieced together about Charles II's Queen, which doesn't seem to be a great deal. It is told in a chronological order - which I always like - and while I would have quite liked a list of Charles II's mistresses and illegitimate children - Charles does not feature massively in the text. Not that he's not there - and there are a few times when I was struck by Charles' regard for his wife, unable to give him the legitimate sons he needed, and yet fiercely loyal to her for all that - apart from perhaps in his younger days when his treatment of her was quite scandalous.
Overall, a very enjoyable and quick read - I especially enjoyed the mentions of the French court as it brought back all my memories of studying Louis XIV. I think it would help to have some understanding of the time period when reading the book - but as I discovered while reading, I did actually know more about the time period than I thought I would.
The book barely sketches in the political and historical background: there's no discussion of libertinism or the culture of the Restoration court, and while the Anglo-Dutch wars happen, Watkins doesn't bother explaining what they're about. The second part of the book does become a bit of an engagement diary as the king and Catherine go visiting around the country.
So this is perfect for someone who prefers their history to be a reflection of historical novels: Watkins uses straightforward language (on Louise de Kerouaille, 'her popularity put Nell's nose out of joint') and isn't above some teen-girl exclamations (on archery, 'Catherine was so good that she hit the bullseye!'). A light, romp of a read.
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