The Tudor Bride, by Joanna Hickson
“The Tudor Bride” does not immediately bring to mind Catherine de Valois…more like Elizabeth of York or Anne Boleyn…but the dynastic story begins with her. In the hands of Joanna Hickson, it’s a really good story. So compellingly readable that I found it hard to put down, in my opinion this is one of the best histfic books of the year.
Although “Tudor Bride” picks up where Hickson’s “Agincourt Bride” leaves off, this is a stand-alone book, starting with Catherine en route from Calais to Dover, the sea voyage from hell, with her recent bridegroom, King Henry V. The action is seen through the eyes of Mette, Katherine’s fiercely devoted servant. Mette’s story is told as well, almost as dramatic as her mistress’s.
Catherine is desperately in love with her husband, but unfortunately, the shining hero of Agincourt is almost at the end of his too-short lifespan. The grieving widow’s worst enemy becomes her brother-in-law Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, who contrives not only to take her young son, the child King Henry VI away from her, but also takes steps to ensure that she will not marry again, with catastrophic results.
Luckily, Catherine has also made lots of steadfast friends, who see her through the great romance of her life (arguably one of the great romances of history) and what happens when the two lovers are brutally separated
Many familiar names parade through these pages, and all of them are brought vividly to life by this new-to-me author. Even though we (well, many of us) know as soon as Owen Tudor makes an appearance how cataclysmic he will be, to Catherine and to history, we still eagerly keep turning the pages to see what happens next.
Not only the characters, but the clothing, the food, the countryside, are all described so beautifully that truly, we are there. The attention to detail is astounding, and I detected not even one historical inaccuracy, not counting those mentioned by the author in her notes.
The larger picture of the great events happening in France and England at the time is also an integral part of the story, including the Beaufort family’s rise to power and Joan of Arc leading the French to victory.
Highly recommended for all historical fiction lovers.