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The Queen's Lover    by Vanora Bennett order for
Queen's Lover
by Vanora Bennett
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Fans of Vanora Bennett who loved her Figures in Silk will be very pleased with this novel. Set in the reign of King Henry V, when the English were constantly at war with France, the story unfolds the life of Catherine de Valois.

The daughter of the mad French King Charles VI and his German queen Isabeau, Catherine has a lonely childhood, with only her brother Charles and an unusual writer/poet, Christine de Pizan, for companions. At a very young age she is betrothed to Henry V. He is both a frightening and an encouraging prospect for her - frightening because he is the enemy and knows nothing of French ways, and encouraging because through him, she will be able to escape what has been a very unhappy life. Since she knows nothing of English ways, she grows to depend on a Welsh page, Owain, who serves Henry. He becomes her mentor and true friend. Her life continues to be full of twists and turns, but given Owain's faithfulness and loyalty and her own courage, Catherine's story shows what true love can and cannot accomplish in a very politically tense time.

The author is very good at accurately weaving in the stories of contemporaries such as Christine de Pizan, and Jehanne d'Arc. We learn much about the madness of King Charles, and how it affected the French court and, in particular, how the French queen really ruled the country despite her own foibles and shortcomings. This is such a very satisfactory read that we are left wishing the historical postscript provided at the end of the book could have been part of the novel as well.

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