The quote on the book cover from THE SUN promises “Outdoes even Philippa Gregory.” Well, NOT so. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.
Although I’ve enjoyed several of Anne O’Brien’s historical novels, this one left me wanting. The story itself, of John of Gaunt‘s great passion for Lady Katherine Swynford (ancestors of the Tudor line of Kings), is a good one. Katherine begins as John’s mistress while he is married to other high-born heiresses and she bears him four illegitimate children. Eventually John makes Katherine his third wife and the Pope declares their children legitimate.
Lots of drama over a period of 25 years — including years when the two lovers were separated because of society’s harsh, widespread accusations of immoral conduct.
But this book is too full of lengthy passages where Katherine is mentally reviewing her situation over and over again. This mental self-reflection becomes increasingly repetitive and tedious as the novel progresses. If only O’Brien’s editor had helped her cut out 100 pages or so — this would have been a much better book.
More about Anne O’Brien.
You may also be interested in my review of other historical novels by O’Brien: