Summary and book reviews of The Queen's Lover by Vanora Bennett

The Queen's Lover

A Novel

by Vanora Bennett

The Queen's Lover
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2010, 592 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 592 pages

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Book Summary

A fictionalized account of the life and loves of Catherine de Valois, a woman of enormous courage who became a great queen of two countries. Readers who enjoy top-quality historical fiction will be swept away by this epic love story set against the rich backdrop of 15th-century England and France—and by this remarkable woman who triumphed magnificently by making her own rules.

Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king Charles VI, is born into troubled times. Though she is brought up in a royal court, it is a stormy and unstable environment. Before she is out of her teens, Catherine is married off to England's Henry V as part of a treaty honoring his victory over France. She is terrified at the idea of being married to a man who is a foreigner, an enemy, and a rough soldier, and is forced to leave her home for England.

Within two years she is widowed, and mother to the future King of England and France—even though her brother has laid claim to the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions of her own family and under threat by the powerful lords of the English court, she must find a way to keep her infant son safe. In Owain Tudor, a childhood friend for whom Catherine has long had affection and who now controls the Royal household, Catherine finds both strength and kinship. As their friendship turns to love, however, she risks not only her life and that of her son but the uneasy balance of power in England and France that will be forever changed.

History comes alive in this lyrical and moving true story of one woman's courage and the inception of one of the most famous royal lineages of all time.

ONE

The page made himself as inconspicuous as possible at the back of the English delegation, looking at the vast tapestries on the walls of this dusty, splendid Parisian hall, clutching his box to his chest, waiting for his cue.

His latest master, the Duke of Clarence, had turned away from the repulsively fat French Queen, his hostess, whose eyes were glittering as wickedly as the jewels half-buried in the flesh of her slug fingers. Clarence fixed his eyes on the fourteen-year-old Princess at her side. The Princess was Owain’s age, and quite a pretty girl, Owain judged, with light brown hair and freckles and gentle eyes over a long nose; it would be sad if time turned her into a swollen monster like her mother. Owain also noticed that the Princess’s cheeks were very pink, which perhaps wasn’t surprising since her top garment was an enormous green velvet houppelande, magnificently trimmed with miniver fur – very stately, but far too...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king Charles VI, is born into troubled times. Brought up in a royal court, she is Catherine is married off to England's Henry V before she is even out of her teens as part of a treaty honoring his victory over France. Within two years she is widowed, and mother to the future King of England and France -- even though her brother has laid claim to the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions of her own family and under threat by the powerful lords of the English court, she must find a way to keep her infant son safe. History comes alive in this lyrical and moving true story of one woman's courage and the inception of one of the most famous royal lineages of all ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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. Book groups will find many topics for discussion. Thank you Ms. Bennett. I'd truly forgotten how fascinating this period of history could be!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

It might seem foolhardy to dig into the treasure trove of English history and yank out one of its least illustrious characters for a revisionist makeover, yet Bennett pulls it off in this dishy historical ...

Library Journal

Starred Review. Bennett offers a compelling and occasionally solemn coming-of-age tale about a young woman who must navigate her conflicting roles as daughter, sister, wife, and mother.

The Times (UK)

Bennett writes thoughtful, well-research historical fiction, finding connections between past and present without too much silliness or fact-bending, and with plenty of romance. And the subject is fascinating. Enormous, in every sense of the word.

Daily Mail

A page-turning story, successfully evoking the atmosphere of intrigue and fear that beset the times.

Lancashire Evening Post

Comparatively little is known about the rather bizarre life of Catherine de Valois, wife of Henry V, but one of the best historical novelists around has conjured up a fascinating portrait of this forgotten queen.

Historical Novel Society

This is quite simply an excellent read!

Reader Reviews

Melanie J. (Rosemary Beach, FL)

The Queen's Lover
A good read. I love to read historical fiction and learn about the time period amidst the story. Ms. Bennett weaves some wonderful themes of love and commitment for children and the search for freedom. Sometimes I got bogged down in trying to ...   Read More

Sandra L. (Newton, MA)

An insight into the real Tutors
This very long (over 500 pages) historical novel involves the merge of France and England in the 15th c . Part fiction and part historical you are involved from the beginning of the intrigue and diplomacy of the rise of the Tudors and the French ...   Read More

Joanne V. (Towanda, PA)

The Queen's Lover
I loved this book! One of my favorite periods in English history and about two characters, Catherine Valois and Owain Tudor, that I had only read about peripherally in the many books I have read about the Lancaster/York and the War of the Roses. ...   Read More

Judith P. (rosebud, missouri)

Bring History to Life
I enjoyed this book because it takes characters from history and makes them real people. One has no idea of the hardships of royalty. You can identify with the constant struggles of survival. The intrigue and subterfuge needed to maintain one's life...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Christine de Pizan

Portrayed in The Queen's Lover as mentor to Catherine de Valois, Christine de Pizan was quite a woman!    She was the first woman in France, possibly in Europe, to earn her living as a writer. Born in Venice in 1365, her family moved to Paris when she was about five when her father, Tomasso de Pizzano, was appointed as court astrologer/physician to King Charles V of France (where the family name was changed to Pizan). Christine grew up in the royal court which at the time was renowned for its intellectual pursuits and for having the finest library in Western Europe. At age 15, she was happily married to Etienne du Castel, a young scholar and court secretary who encouraged her to continue her studies - but her idyllic life was not...

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