Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Agincourt Bride-Joanna Hickson

The Agincourt Bride
Joanna Hickson
Harper, Aug 19 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 978000744697

In fourteen years of marriage to “Mad King” Charles VI of France, Queen Isabeau already has given birth to four boys and five girls when a sixth worthless female Catherine pops out.  Royal nursery boss Madame La Bonne is pleased that the fifteen years old Parisian baker’s daughter Guilliamette Dupain gave birth to a stillborn.  Given no choice, Mette becomes Catherine’s wet-nurse.

Over the years Princess Catherine keeps Mette at her side during her childhood and into adulthood.  Though a commoner, Mette guides the child through the chaotic courts of her insane father and her ambitious brother King Charles Dauphin; both whom plan to marry her off to forge an alliance.  The powerful Duke Philippe of Burgundy also has an agenda for this princess.  However, after the forces of Henry V win at the Battle of Agincourt, Catherine becomes either a greater asset or liability for the ambitious plotting to use her or get rid of her.  Only Mette, risking her life, protects her until the royal sibling must choose between two monarchs, her brother the French King and English King Henry V.

This is a vivid historical biographical fiction tale that brings to life early fifteenth century France (at court, in Paris and the countryside) and to a lesser degree England through the eyes of Catherine’s prime confident.  Though not for the casual reader as the storyline can be overwhelming in the depth of background, The Agincourt Bride is a very fresh entry in the often told tale of Catherine of Valois (see The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien and The Queen's Secret by Jean Plaidy).  The pleased audience will return for the continuation of Catherine’s saga (see The Tudor Bride; not yet published).

Harriet Klausner

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