The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien
|The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien|
|Genre: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Another excellent read from the ever-reliable Anne O'Brien. Strong characters and a great setting make this highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 464||Date: March 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Katherine de Valois is the young and innocent girl betrothed to Henry V of England. While Henry doesn't love her, she thinks she can be happy with him. Unfortunately, though, she quickly finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, then finds an even worse fate in store as Henry is killed and she is left a lonely young widow. With political machinations dogging her every step as men like Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor catch her eye. Can she be happy with one of them, or will those people at court who don't want to see any man gain the power that would come with marrying the mother of the young king foil her hopes?
This is the third Anne O'Brien book I've read, and there's a reason she's one of the relatively few adult authors whose books I'll go out of my way to get hold of. She's remarkably consistent - whenever you read one of her books, she brings the time period she’s writing about to life wonderfully. It’s easy to imagine yourself transported back to the 15th century when reading her excellent descriptions of the places she’s writing about, and her characters are always brilliantly portrayed. The stand-out here, for me – above even Katherine herself – is Owen Tudor, fiercely proud of his Welsh heritage despite being looked down on by the noblemen, he's a wonderful character and the chemistry between him and Catherine is absolutely sizzling!
It's not exactly a difficult book to predict the outcome of, even if the early 15th century isn't your strong point historically - the front cover includes the line Tudor Mistress, while the publicity describes Katherine as the forbidden queen who launched the most famous dynasty of all time As always with O'Brien's books, though, it's seeing her breathe fresh new life into these historical figures so skilfully that makes them worth reading - and re-reading - even if you have a good idea of how it will all end.
Highly recommended, as are Anne O'Brien's previous books.
I know that Anne O'Brien herself is a fan of Alison Weir, who writes similarly excellent historical novels. Katherine Swynford is one of her best.
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