The story of a great queen, a woman of enormous courage who made her own rules, and a true survivor. This is the first in a series of early medieval novels by Vanora Bennett, the author of Portrait of an Unknown Woman. Catherine de Valois, daughter of the French king, is born in troubled times. Brought up in a the stormy and unstable environment of the court, her only friend is the remarkable poet and writer Christine de Pizan. Catherine is married off to Henry V as part of a treaty honouring his victory over France, and is destined to be a trophy wife. Terrified at the idea of being married to a man who is at once a foreigner, an enemy and a rough soldier, Catherine nevertheless does her duty. Within two years she is widowed, and mother of the future King of England and France – even though her brother has already claimed the French crown for himself. Caught between warring factions, Catherine finds support from Owain Tudor, controller of her household – a dangerous support as rumours of their relationship would jeopardise her right to keep her child. To save her son, and herself, she must turn away from her love and all that is familiar and safe to find another way forward
Read under the title “Blood Royal”, rather than the alternative title of “The Queen’s Lover” this is the fictionalised story of French Catherine, her marriage to English King Henry V and her long term friendship with Owain Tudor. It’s is the offspring of the latter marriage that ultimately become the Tudor family, producing Henry VIII.
Other reviewers complain about the apparent falsehoods in this story – I have no idea whether the plot lines are true or not. But it can be certain that in a male dominated world, where women (even Queens) have little power and only that be granted to them by even inferior status men, then some of the plot devices here are likely to have some grain of truth. Then again, this is classed as fiction, not fact!
There are some things that dont quite ring true – was Owain and Catherine’s friendship allowed to flourish that easily, and once found out, allowed to continue? But then again, they did marry in real life, so if not this way, then how?
On the whole an enjoyable book