Rated of 5
by 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.