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The Queen's Lover: A Novel

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Book Overview

From Vanora Bennett, the acclaimed author of Portrait of an Unknown Woman and Figures in Silk comes The Queen's Lover, a fictionalized account of the life and loves of Catherine de Valois, a woman of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

England and France They Both Liked the Dance!

Historical Novels have a charm of their own. When I approach any historical novel it is with an open heart. Many authors all start with a healthy knowledge of what the history books say. It is the whimsy of each story that I find with any interest. I love to relax with a novel each and every night, Historical novels are a basic fairy tale. Most have all the elements that are needed to present a decent story line. The Queen's Lover is just what the title implies. We have a Princess named Catherine of France who dances with a King named Henry, Henry the 5Th. There are always battles and war for land ... France and England have always been at war with each other...Henry must leave for battle, not knowing Catherine is with child, an heir for England. Her heart is French but her life is in England ... battles bring wars ... Henry is taken from Catherine. The road is hard with a young king, The rules in England being that the young heir is to be trained in war and tradition. His training is to leave the Queen Mother time alone. Henry 5Th had a loyal servant, the servant being Owain Tudor. The queens Lover takes us from the meeting of Owen Tudor all the way through a Queens life. Owen being a Welsh Lord before England took away the Welsh way of life. Leaving Owen Tudor without land or title. Owain Tudor has served Henry well, Henry's kindness to Owain made it even harder for Wain's love for Catherine. Their are parts of this novel where the author takes many liberties with the everyday life between Catherine and Owen. I chalk this up to "whimsy's". We also have and Queen and King who are the parents of Catherine. History tells us that Catherine's father has been a Mad Hatter for a long time. Catherine's mother had many discretion's even with her brother in law. There are patches that are rather too whimsical, I doubt if a princess would be encouraged to be alone with a suitor .... but, it does give a twist to the story. In all Fairy Tales there is always , most often a Happy ever After ending. This historical novel does stay true to the history , most of the time, I believe I enjoyed this novel as it did take you off the beaten road and the authors imagination takes on a life of it's own. If, you approach this novel with a whimical mind you probably will enjoy their dance. If, you like to stick to the historical facts then pass this one buy.

strong historical biographical fiction

As the English cross the Channel invading France, French princess Catherine de Valois feels neglected and alone as she always has, but now her fear has increased dramatically. She knows she cannot turn to her father insane King Charles VI or her mother self-indulgent Queen Isabeau. A timorous person by nature, who would choose flight over fight, , she realizes her escape from war torn France is as the wife of English King Henry V. Her only haven in the royal storm is her tutor, poet Christine de Pizan. Soldier-poet Owain Tudor is part of the Welsh royalty imprisoned by the English monarchy. He has become a page in the court of King Henry V. Christine introduces her only student to Owain. They become close friends although she is now the Queen of England and mother to the ruler of France and England. This is a strong historical biographical fiction of a woman surviving royal intrigue in two countries. Title aside, this is Catherine's tale although Owain plays a major role. Readers will relish this strong look at the French and English courts before and after Agincourt through the eyes of the person who knew first hand the good, the bad, and the ugly of both monarchies. Harriet Klausner

An entertaining read....just keep in mind it's fiction

Vanora Bennett's newest historical novel, `The Queen's Lover' brings fifteenth century France and England to life. Catherine of Valois, daughter of the mad French King Charles VI, and his dissolute wife Isabeau, leads a lonely life at the besieged French court. Neglected by their parents and ignored by their often quarreling siblings, Catherine and her brother Charles, learn to fend for themselves. Their only friend and sometime tutor is Christine de Pizan, a noted poet and scholar. And it is Christine who introduces Owain Tudor into their lives. The three young people become close friends for one magical summer, until Christine realizes that Owain and Catherine have fallen in love. Owain is returned to his duties at the English court and Catherine solaces her grief in caring for her increasingly mad father. Owain and Christine's story is romantic and touching, heart-rending at times, in this highly fictionalized account. This is a powerful story which Bennett handles deftly. Owain is charismatic, Catherine multi-faceted. Both mature and change as their lives are driven by the demands of their rank and their pasts. Catherine, of course, marries Henry V of England and is briefly Queen of England and France. This is a fascinating time period - the cast of characters is filled with recognizable names - England's Henry V, the greedy French queen Isabeau and her mad but loving husband Charles VI, Jeanne d'Arc and Charles the Dauphin, Warwick the Kingmaker and Bishop Beaufort - all are carefully drawn by Bennett. `The Queen's Lover' will satisfy those who are seeking a well-written, fast paced, multi-dimensional novel. However, the novel places entertainment over historical accuracy. Read and enjoy and get information elsewhere. After all, it is fiction.

The Queen Mother

After reading Vanora Bennett's Figures in Silk, I was looking forward to reading another novel by the same author. I noticed right away that her style of writing had changed slightly. The book told the story of Catherine de Valois (mother of Henry VI), from the time she was a young girl to the coronation of her son, in multiple points-of-view...sometimes it was Catherine's thoughts; sometimes Christine's, Owain, Henry V, and a few others. The POVs changed frequently within the same chapters, but it was easy to keep track of. The novel itself was divided into separate books, which allowed the narration to suddenly jump in time, location and tone. I don't think it made any difference to the storyline, but it did add depth to the various characters. I found the description of Catherine's childhood to be extremely disturbing. I can't imagine royal children starving, or being so severely neglected. Christine was such a big part of Catherine's life, and a great influence on Owain, yet the mention of her death was not what I was expecting for a character of that importance. There were other odd moments in the book; for instance, Dame Butler was emphasized as a beloved servant, but then she makes a snotty remark about young Harry acting like a baby. The abuse that Warwick was able to get away with was also very upsetting. I don't understand why someone would be allowed to beat a future King like that. I can't believe after Catherine's own miserable childhood, she could let anything bad happen to her own son. It's no wonder King Henry VI was known to go mad as an adult. I loved Part Seven with Jehanne of Arc. It helped me figure out where I was on the timeline...it was very difficult to remember what the date was at any point in the novel. However, by that point in the book, I was under the impression that Catherine was more concerned with her love affair with Owain than the well-being of her son, Harry. If I was suppose to think she was a strong female, I never did. I can't summon up respect for someone that selfish, and Catherine always seemed incapable of helping herself -- even towards the end of the novel. The Cardinal was actually more of a favorite. Overall, the story was entertaining, but the Historical Postscript left out the detail of Catherine's death. After reading a novel based on her life, it would have been nice to know how she died. I think I prefered the writing style of Figures in Silk, but I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in historical fiction from this time period.

"We're all in that place... a France full of fear and ghosts."

A wicked queen. A mad king. A lonely princess. And a country besieged by war with England. So begins the story of Catherine de Valois, wife to King Henry V, mother of Henry VI. With little knowledge of the machinations of politics, Catherine craves security while living through chaos. France is mired in warring factions, nobles fighting for their own gains while the country suffers egregiously. A marriage is proposed between Catherine and Henry V of England, to join France and England. It is only out of desperation- after a furious military onslaught by the English- that Catherine is finally wed to Henry. Her only comfort is derived from a friendship with Owain Tudor, a Welshman fluent in French, Henry's emissary to the young woman in the French court. The two young people fall innocently in love, knowing such a match is impossible. Inevitably, Catherine finally marries Henry, who dies before the couple can sail to England. Queen Mother to an infant heir to the throne of both France and England, Catherine finds herself in a country where the political infighting is just as vigorous. Again, her spare comforts are found in the friendship of Tudor, a critical member of little Harry's household. As Harry grows- and is fought over- it is Owain who protects Catherine's interests against those who plot to use the young king. Catherine holds sway over her son's household for a mere seven years until he is of an age to be crowned King of England and France. Bennett has written an enduring love story, but one filled with war, deprivation, fear and politics in the early 15th century. Unable to gain any advantage for herself or her son, Catherine struggles to find her voice, as often as not ineffective. Hampered by a chronic lack of sophistication, Catherine depends on Tudor to guide her through treacherous decisions, clinging to the few years left with Harry. Meanwhile England and France play out a bitter drama on the world stage, culminating in the burning at the stake of Jehanne de Arc in France, on the cusp of Harry's coronation. Then there is the matter of the young king's emotional delicacy, exacerbated by the rigors of a cruel and brutal disciplinarian who thwarts Catherine's every move to protect her son. The author recreates Catherine's insular world and her attachment to Tudor, the vicious political battles on both continents, the increasing ambitions of the Beaufort family and the incipient rise of the Tudor dynasty. Although Catherine is never a very likeable protagonist, her situation is impossible; she is helpless in the face of powerful men who control every aspect of her life. Bennett describes Catherine's frustration as Queen Mother as well as the turmoil around her, both in England and France, the lovers eventually united in a shocking coup in the face of vehement opposition. It is the Welshman, Tudor, who is the star of the piece, a conscientious, loyal man who serves his king and loves his queen with the highest degree of integrity.
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