Covering the years 1501 -09 Anne and Louis XII of France are now settled in their marriage and in their administration of Brittany and France respectively. Theirs is a love match, though each prioritizing the governing of their individual realms above anything else. After a sad history of miscarriages, stillbirths, and young children dying from illness — they have only one living daughter Claude. And while both love her dearly — they have different visions for her future. In the absence of a living son (though they are still trying for one), Louis wants Claude to marry his male heir, Francois, Count of Angoulême, and become Queen of France. Anne wants Claude to take over Brittany and marry the heir to the more powerful Holy Roman Empire.
The sections of the book I enjoyed most were those that showed the close and loving relationship between Anne and Louis, where each partner, despite their political and temperamental differences, treasures the strength and independence of the other. As well as the relationship between Claude and her father which closely parallels Anne’s memories of her own relationship with HER father.
But, unfortunately, too much of the book reads like a dry history text. Long passages with details about battles involving Louis and treaty disputes with Ferdinand of Aragon. And equally long passages about Anne’s support for the arts — including quite tedious and UNinteresting conversations with various artists working on the elaborate tombs Anne wants for her parents and dead children as well as planning and executing an opulent “Book of Hours” (a Christian devotional work). The material simply was not very compelling.
Though I expected the book to end either with the death of one or both of these rulers, instead it ends quite abruptly in 1509 with Anne in the middle of labor. (This is why I assume there will be a sequel since Anne lives another 5 years beyond 1509.) It seemed like a strange place for an ending.
I can’t say I recommend the series, except to those who have an interest in either Anne or Louis or both. I can say I learned more about these two historical figures.
More about the author.
You may be interested in my reviews of the first two books in this series: