Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Collection
“Charles II is restored to the English throne, and his court is lively and even scandalous. The country is eager for succession to be clear and certain: The next king will be the son of Charles II and his queen, Catherine of Braganza. Yet Catherine, daughter of the king of Portugal and a Catholic, has never been popular with the English people. She is also having great difficulty conceiving an heir, even as many of Charles’s well-known mistresses are bearing his children with ease. Catherine is aware that courtiers close to Charles are asking him to divorce her and take another wife—yet she is determined to hold her title in the face of all odds.”
Catherine of Braganza is a quiet, reserved, and innocent young lady when she comes to marry the Merry Monarch at the licentious court of Charles II. Her eyes are rather quickly opened when she is introduced to her new husband’s mistress, Barbara Palmer. Catherine would have to figure out how to handle her husband’s many mistresses: Barbara Palmer, Louise de Kerouaille, Nell Gwyn and many others. Catherine also has to handle the many plots that implicated her in attempts on the King’s life, hatred toward her for her Catholic religion, and failure to conceive an heir.
Plaidy does a great job at describing the many mistresses that Charles II has. We get to see not only how the court and countrymen reacted to these many women but also have an insight into what Catherine might have felt about them. She is a character that you can find much sympathy for, especially as another woman. I can imagine that it would be hard enough to handle one mistress, never mind several at once.
Prior to reading this book I had no experience with the court of Charles II. Charles is quite the interesting person. He was always lively and jovial and quick to brush off personal problems. It is amazing how carefree his life seems to be. While he cares about how his dalliances with other women affect his wife, he also expects her to handle them with decorum and not pay any attention to it (the nerve!).
Of the few Plaidy novels that I have read so far this is one of my favorites. The characters are very well developed and I could really feel for Catherine. Enough background information is given for a solid understanding of these people without having to look anything up to feel comfortable in that time period.
Plaidy is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors!
Author Jean Plaidy has written scores of novel. This book is a part of the Queens of England Series, which include: Myself, My Enemy, Queen of this Realm, Victoria Victorious, Lady in the Tower, The Courts of Love, In the Shadow of the Crown, The Queen’s Secret, The Reluctant Queen, William’s Wife, and The Rose Without a Thorn.
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