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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review: The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick


The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
Paperback, 633 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
November 1, 2010
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Sourcebooks for The Forever Queen Book Club

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

“Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom—and her crown—are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England's shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery”

The Forever Queen is the story of a powerful woman. Emma grows into this state of being because of all of the things that she has to deal with. As a young girl she is married to King Æthelred – a man who does not treat her well. She gains strength from this and uses it as a catalyst to continually push forward and never back. She is certainly a woman that should be celebrated for her accomplishments and it is certainly a shame that she has almost been forgotten by history.

Typically I hate reading long books because by the time I get to the end, events that happened in the beginning feel like an entirely different book. Also, there is the fact that I feel like I am not making any progress because I am not on a new book. I did not have that feeling with The Forever Queen. I always wanted to keep reading and struggled to put the book down. I stayed up super late on the final night of this book because I was determined to finish it and not have to wait until morning to see how it wrapped up.

There are SO many characters in this book that at times it is hard to keep them straight. Hollick remedies this by providing several useful pages that I referred back to time and again. There is a family tree for Cnut and Emma, a pronunciation guide (Thank You!) and maps of the world they lived in. I would have been totally lost without these references, as this is a time totally foreign to me. Hollick also does a great job of indicating dates and places of events throughout her writing and with the chapter titles. The world that these people lived in just came to life through her writing.

The characters that Hollick has created are superb. Right from the start you can really get into what they are thinking and why they are doing what they do. You also can really see the evolution of character throughout the book – this is most evidenced by the growth of Emma. She also expertly molds your opinions of these characters – a telltale sign of a great author. I went from hating Cnut near the beginning, to finding him one of my favorite characters toward the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I am eagerly looking forward to the follow up.

Helen Hollick is the author of several books, including The Forever Queen and the soon to be US release follow up, The Chosen King. You can visit Helen’s website for more information about her books or you can visit her journal site to see what she is up to. If you are interested in reading an excerpt from the book, follow my link to Sourcebooks and click “excerpt”.

Watch this book trailer:

 

My reviews of other books by this author:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 
Be sure to follow along with the reviews by other members of the Book Club (I know I am toward the end). Also, check out the Book Club chat on November 22 at the Bibliophilic Book Blog (more info below).

The Forever Queen Book Club Schedule

November 1
http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
http://calicocritic.blogspot.com/

November 2
http://www.passagestothepast.com/
http://lifeinthethumb.blogspot.com/

November 3
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/
http://www.luxuryreading.com/

November 4
http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/
http://historicallyobsessed.blogspot.com/

November 5
http://booksbythewillowtree.blogspot.com/
http://www.historyandwomen.com/

November 8
http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com/
http://www.bookwormsdinner.blogspot.com/

November 9
http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/
http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/

November 10
http://literatehousewife.com/
http://carpelibrisreviews.com/

November 11
http://web.me.com/quirion/Bookaddict/Welcome.html
http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/

November 12
http://www.brokenteepee.blogspot.com/
http://www.read-all-over.net/

November 15
http://writesthoughts.blogspot.com/
http://celticladysramblings.blogspot.com/

November 16
http://www.jennylovestoread.blogspot.com/
http://booksandneedlepoint.blogspot.com/

November 17
http://bookalicio.us/
http://themaidenscourt.blogspot.com/

November 18
http://pushersink.blogspot.com/
http://marthasbookshelf.blogspot.com/

November 19
http://theroyalreviews.blogspot.com/
http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/

November 22
Book Club Chat on http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
7pm-9pm EST




Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

8 comments:

  1. This book has been placed on my Christmas wish list. I do like Hollick's writing, and from my experience, she does do a good job in bringing the world to the reader. I am glad to hear there are family charts, and pronunciation guides. That is good.

    Unlike you, I tend to gravitate towards long books. I looked up the page count for this one, and saw that it is 656 pages. My first thought was, "Oh...that isn't bad." LOL :D

    Glad you enjoyed the read.

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  2. Thanks for the great review! Will add this to my WL!!

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  3. I love Historical Fiction, thanks! for sharing.

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  4. Ibeeeg - I'm used to reading like 400ish page books - so this one was long for me. I just always feel like "I am STILL reading this book!" when it is so long. But I really enjoyed this one.

    Kelsey - you won't be disappointed.

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  5. Thanks for the great review Heather, I'm really pleased that you enjoyed the read. I feel a bit guilty at being the cause of you missing out on sleep though! LOL :-)

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  6. Helen - thanks for dropping by! Don't feel guilty, I was absorbed in a great story!

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  7. Okay -- the cover drew me in, the premise of the story landed me. I want to read this one, and after seeing some stellar reviews of this -- I'm sold. Wonderful review!

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  8. Coffee and a Book Chick - thanks! I think you will enjoy it. Have you read any other of Helen's books?

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Thanks for leaving your comments! I love reading them and try to reply to all!