Carol C. (Troy, NY)
The Queen's Lover
Despite the title, the book's focus is on Catherine of Valois rather than Owain Tudor. What drew me to the book is that it relates the story of two people who are, perhaps, lesser known to history and seemingly acknowledged more for their connections to the widely known Henry V (a relatively minor character in this book) and their descendants, Henry VIII and Elisabeth I, than for themselves.
The story is entertaining and held my interest throughout, although the writing could have been a bit tighter - the book is nearly 600 pages long. That said, the author is adept at conveying to her readers the physical and political world of early 15th century England and France.
The Queen's Lover is an enjoyable read about a relationship that ultimately leads to an unlikely marriage (where the book ends), given the written and unwritten rules of the day.
Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
Enhanced History AND a Love Story!
Great historical fiction gives the reader deeper understanding of the times and people depicted. Vanora Bennett allows me to finally comprehend the deep differences between the French and English undiscovered in both Shakespeare's Henry V and the tragic tale of Saint Joan. The anticipation that builds in this true love story, is reminiscent of Austen or the Bronte sisters and is also an excellent read for a history buff!
Julia H. (Excelsior, MN)
The Queen's Lover
I was a little taken aback at the size of Bennett's novel, but was soon captivated by the wonderful characters and story she developed. I was surprised at first how much of the action took place in France--expecting a pre-Tudor novel to be only set in England was naive, I guess! The French have nothing on the English of the time with their behind the scenes machinations and handling of royal lines and unions. I especially enjoyed the very learned Christine de Pizan's role in the young royals lives--and was delighted to find basis in real life for this character as well. Young Princess Catherine's feelings for Welshman Owain Tudor did manage to stand the test of time and Bennett painted a great story to go along with tidbits of history.
Shirley L. (Norco, LA)
The Queen's Lover
Early 15th century England and France were not easy places to be if you were female even if you were of royal blood. Catherine of Valois, her mother Isabeau, and writer Christine were wonderful characters to tell this story of kings, conflict, betrayals and palace intrigue. The story starts slowly; the first hundred pages read more like history than a novel. The pace picks up and delivers a satisfactory ending.
Russell P. (Nashville, TN)
Now Here's Something to Talk About
What a masterfully written novel. Ms. Bennett pens a wondrous tale of young love, and its maturation. Filled with memorable characters, vivid descriptions, and attention to detail we are served a fictitious novel based on historical facts. If you love romance The Queen’s Lover will not disappoint. The plots and subplots sweep you into a whirlwind tale filled with heroes, villains, war, greed, manipulation, deceit, betrayal, fear, laughter, separation, and hope just to name a few of its many elements. Then the story really gets interesting!
Darra W. (Walnut Creek, CA)
Tracing the Tudors
"The Queen’s Lover" tells the story of Catherine of Valois, the French princess given in marriage to Henry V as part of a peace settlement following the English conquest of northern France, and the Welshman who became her clerk of the wardrobe—and ultimately her husband—Owain (Owen) Tudor. This improbable union led to the establishment of the Tudor dynasty through their grandson, Henry, Duke of Richmond, who took the crown as Henry VII after defeating the Yorkist king, Richard III, at Bosworth Field in 1485. The dynasty eventually produced—arguably—the two most recognizable names in the history of the British monarchy: Henry VIII and his daughter, Elizabeth I.
At 500 pages, "The Queen's Lover" is epic in proportion. After a somewhat slow start, Bennett serves up everything you might expect—and desire—from a meaty work of historical fiction set in 15th century Europe: dysfunctional royals, court intrigue, war (civil and international), romance, conniving clergy, and the occasional offspring of “questionable origin.” Yes, at times Owain seems a bit too good to be true, and Catherine’s behavior occasionally borders on the insipid (e.g., her besotted u-turn upon meeting Henry V, her future husband), but on the whole, "The Queen’s Lover" is a highly enjoyable imagining that describes the unlikely origins of one of England’s most fascinating families.
Peggy K. (Long Beach, CA)
I have a deep attachment to the Tudors. I love history and it has been years since I read such a wonderful book dealing with them and few books really have been out there about the man who started the Tudor line. I had some familiarity with the characters but this book is so beautifully detailed it is an amazing read. Part factual and part fiction it may be but it is one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year. Readers who like a bit of history in their fiction will love this book. Thank you Ms. Bennett. I'd truly forgotten how fascinating this period of history could be.