The troubled story of England’s Queen Catherine of Valois’ dysfunctional childhood family. Awarded three stars on Goodreads but probably deserves 3.5 stars
Catherine of Valois is the youngest daughter of King Charles VI of France — destined to become the wife of King Henry V of England, the hero of the Battle of Agincourt. Her lonely childhood in France, with a mentally unstable father and distant, power-hungry mother, is heavily influenced by the deaths of several older brothers (heirs), difficult relationships with sisters, and shifting political alliances. The one constant is her nurse-governness-confidant Mette, who narrates the book.
How Catherine eventually weds Henry of England, despite years of obstacles, her sexually charged relations with the powerful Duke of Burgundy, and the difficult demands of royalty make this an interesting story. And along the way, Mette tells about her own family, so you also get some notion of life for the lower and middle classes in France during the Middle Ages.
My criticism of the book is two-fold. There were times I found myself losing interest – especially around battle scenes. And some of the very personal aspects to Catherine’s marriage (like getting her sex life on a good footing) struck me as a bit farfetched. Nevertheless, I finished the book and am about to start the sequel. So I guess overall I liked it well enough.
More about the author, Joanna Hickson.