The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen
Anne O'Brien
Reviewed by Rachel Sanderson
Mira
Fri, 01/03/2013
9781848452152
£7.99

Katherine de Valois is the daughter of mad King Charles VI of France and his lascivious wife Queen Isabeau, who is renowned for her penchant for seducing pretty young courtiers. 

King Henry V of England agrees to marry Katherine, and at the tender age of 18 she becomes the queen of England, bringing with her the crown of France for her royal husband. Widowed at the age of 21, Katherine is Queen Mother to King Henry VI of England and finds herself  far from free: unable to live the way she wishes or to bestow her heart upon the man she wants.

A queen about whom very little is actually recorded, Katherine comes alive in the pages of this fabulous novel. Chronicling her life from her youth in the Hôtel de St Pol in Paris, and the terrors of a mad father and dissolute mother, to one of the last completely voluntary actions of her life, this book charts the life, loves, joys and heartbreaks of a woman of incredible strength of character, grace and self-possession.

O’Brien cleverly weaves the story into the true fabric of English history, placing Katherine de Valois at some of the major historical events of the time. But far from making her the ‘dumb blonde’ that history seems to have branded her, O’Brien's Katherine is a strong-minded and thoroughly intelligent woman who can cross mental swords with some of the most powerful men of the time.

Written in the first person, this book compares favourably with the work of Philippa Gregory and would be enjoyed by anyone who likes her work. It takes a poorly known character from history and transforms her into the fascinating, vibrant, passionate, enthralling and truly incredible woman she should be remembered as being.

 

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