“1415. The jewel in the French crown, Katherine de Valois, is waiting under lock and key to marry King Henry V. For Katherine, England is a lion’s den of greed, avarice and mistrust. And, when the magnificent King leaves her widowed at twenty-one, she is a prize ripe for the taking.
This is a deadly game; one the Dowager Queen must learn fast. The players – the Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor – are circling. Who will have her? This is the story of Katherine de Valois, England’s most coveted prize. The forbidden queen who launched the most famous dynasty of all time…”
Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. As I’ve said before, I don’t often read historical fiction and Katherine de Valois was new to me but it sounded thoroughly intriguing and I was looking forward to getting started.
It began with a brief introduction to Katherine’s childhood and, considering she was a princess, she seemed to be rather neglected. Once she had reached a suitable age her mother set about trying to persuade King Henry V to accept Katherine as his wife, at this point she was young and hopeful and wanted nothing more than to be a good wife but she seemed unaware of what was expected of her.
I found it fascinating to learn about Katherine and I felt a genuine warmth towards her which lasted throughout the book. As she adjusted to her new role as Queen her timid and sensitive demeanour worried me, she seemed to lack the power that a woman in her position needed but it was her strange detached marriage that ended up making her stronger. When King Henry V died I was keen to see how it would affect Katherine’s strength and felt surprised by her reactions during the aftermath.
Edmund Beaufort arrived in a whirlwind and it was then that I saw a different Katherine altogether – he was wildly romantic and cheeky with it, he certainly brought out the fun side of Katherine and I enjoyed reading about their time together. Owen Tudor was gentle and respectful, his presence going unnoticed until a moment which made it impossible for Katherine not to notice him!
A tangled web of lies, deceit and scandal seemed to follow Katherine wherever she went, some of her decisions were impulsive and didn’t serve her well but I was impressed when she stood firmly by her beliefs and fought passionately for them. The writing was beautifully clear and precise which made this a very easy book to read, I flew through the pages as I became more and more caught up in Katherine’s life and the politics that had kept her prisoner.
The epilogue left me in tears – it was incredibly touching, as was Katherine’s life in general, and I couldn’t resist heading online to find out what had become of her family.
This was a romantic, fascinating and enjoyable read, I was utterly gripped by the words on its pages and would highly recommend it to others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne O’Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters degree in Education at Hull, she worked as a History teacher in East Riding until she was encouraged by success in short story competitions to become a full-time author. After publishing a number of “Regency Romances”, Anne decided to focus on giving voice to women in history who fascinated her the most. In 2010, she published the acclaimed Virgin Widow, which told the story of Anne Neville, the wife of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Devil’s Consort followed in 2011, telling the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and in 2012, Anne published The King’s Concubine, depicting the scandalous life of Alice Perrers, the mistress of Edward III. The Forbidden Queen is her fourteenth novel.
Anne lives with her husband in an 18th Century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marshes in Herefordshire, an area steeped in history. ‘A wild and beautiful place’, on the border between England and Wales, it is renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches, as well as a fair few bloody deeds. When not writing, Anne enjoys trekking (early experiences were both exhilarating and beautiful, or life-threatening!), yoga and gardening in her herb patch patterned on a Tudor knot Garden.
You can visit Anne O’Brien’s website for more information.