I love historical fiction about the English monarchy and court. This time period, the 1300’s, is one that I wasn’t very familiar with, which was fine with me. I’m always up for learning something new while being entertained. Warning: there are some spoilers ahead if you aren’t familiar with English history.
This story centers around Joan of Kent. Joan’s father was executed by her grandmother’s lover when she was very young. She also didn’t trust her own family to provide for her or believe that they had her best interests at heart. After reading about the actions of some of her clan, I can’t really blame her for that.
Joan seemed ridiculously naive when she married, clandestinely, at the age of twelve for love. Then, when her family insisted on a more advantageous match, she was heart broken.
I was surprised at first about her behavior and reaction but then I imagined that the lack of training, guidance or protection that she received during her childhood was probably the reason that she believed she could marry whomever she wished. Royalty didn’t enjoy the freedom of marrying for love. Poor Joan.
The historical figures described in this tale, such as Edward III and his son, The Black Prince, were larger than life with tempers to match. I loved the descriptions of the clothing, the feasts, the dancing, building maintenance and other minutiae of daily life.
I didn’t love other aspects of this story. I felt like this book was too long and the second half was incredibly rushed. I think the author should have created a trilogy.
She could have ended book one at the decision of the Pope about Joan’s marriage status. (I won’t ruin that one for you.) Then, a second book could have followed about the birth of her first four children and family life. A third book could have chronicled her next marriage and what followed.
In this book, five years passed in approximately a page and a half, sometimes less. There could have been so much more to the story and I would have loved to have read it.
Fans of Philippa Gregory’s brand of historical fiction will probably eat this up with a spoon. Prepare yourself for some rushed passages though.
I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. Thanks for reading!