King Philippe of France sends his daughter, Princess Isabella, to marry the dashing King Edward of England. Once wed, the young queen quickly abandons any romantic illusions as her husband has a secret, one that will stand between them and threatens to plunge England into civil war. And when tensions with France rise, the young queen faces an impossible choice.
I received an advance review copy from publisher via NetGalley. A HUGE thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for this opportunity to read and review.
A well-researched story about a young woman who overcomes insurmountable odds using her political acumen and intelligence. Isabella is a girl who grew up with a larger-than-life father who sat as king on the French throne. To help unite France and England, she is wed to the English king, Edward. Unfortunately, Isabella quickly finds herself undervalued and unloved. Throughout the narrative, she is seeking to win that one elusive gift from her husband: love.
The narration is very true to the mindset of the time period. I found Isabella’s set of beliefs about how royalty should act and their responsibilities realistic to how she was raised and seemed to fit perfectly within the setting. She expected certain respects paid to her as a queen, and I thought the setting and belief systems were very well researched and narrated. While I do not always agree with her point of view, I understand that it is a product of the time period and how she was raised. All Isabella’s actions were dictated by her sense of duty and felt true to the time period as well as to a woman trying to keep her place next to her husband the king.
While some historical fictions stories can become bogged down by the sheer amount of historical figures, this book never became overwhelmed by the English and French courtiers. I never found myself lost in a sea of names. I think the author did a great job keeping a succinct storyline and amount of characters.
At times, the author repeated himself regarding thoughts about people or pieces of narration. However, I really enjoyed the story, and the narration was never weighed down by redundancy. There is great historical detail to how the characters speak to one another which I loved. There is also a lot of good detail to the surroundings of the characters that enriched the tale.
BEST SCENE: Isabella meeting Edward in prison. Their conversation was very insightful. Isabella had wanted Edward to love her, yet she never listened to him when he talked of his wish for his life. While she found herself bound by responsibilities that she wished she could break, she did not allow these concessions for other royalty until it was too late. It was a great moment for both of the characters.
DISLIKE: Isabella’s final line for two reasons: (1) The epilogue completely undermines it. Why would you make your main character’s final words moot a few pages after they are spoken - especially following all she had worked and struggled through. While I liked where the epilogue left us, it made me think the author didn’t respect his title character as much, and (2) when did Isabella get that creepy? I think hinting at what the box contained would have been enough to leave a sympathetic and slightly disturbing emotional undercurrent with the reader. I made that Disney-like connection when the box was first introduced, so I was not overly surprised by what it contained in the end. However, throughout the book, I’m not sure if Isabella “always” got what she wanted. The line felt incongruous to the story. Isabella held her emotions inside throughout the entire storyline. At this final juncture, however, it would have been nice if she would have finally let them go and mourned her lost husband instead of gloating about her final “accomplishment” (which really was not an “accomplishment” a few pages later).
Just released December 2016: "The Forgotten" volume 2 "Heir of the Heretic"
Reviewed and awarded the
2016 Indie Editor's Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
Long listed for the Historical Novel Society 2017 Indie Award.
Goodreads profile at: https://www.goodreads.com/JElse