October 1396. Attending the marriage of Richard II, King of England, Joanna of Navarre encounters Henry Bolingbroke, the Earl of Derby.
Their attraction is immediate and mutual, despite Joanna's marriage to the much older John, Duke of Brittany.
Several years later, Henry has been crowned King of England having overthrown the tyrannical Richard, and the recently widowed Joanna is surprised to receive a proposal of marriage from him. To accept means losing her sons, and abandoning her Regency of Brittany, but unable to discard her still-strong feelings for Henry, Joanna reluctantly agrees.
However, life in England is not what Joanna had expected. Accustomed to having her previous husband's ear, and a say in matters of policy, she is shocked to find herself shut out of politics and regarded by many as an enemy for her Breton heritage.
Henry is distracted by rebellions from all corners of the country, and the repeated attempts upon his life lead him to suspect everyone - even his wife.
Both are too proud to confront the distance that is growing between them, Alone, and with no one to confide in, can Joanna overcome her pride and make amends with her husband? And if the two reconcile, can Henry maintain his hold upon the Crown and establish himself as rightful King?
The Queen's Choice by Anne O'Brien is published by Mira Books on 14th January 2016, in hardback.
As a fan of historical fiction, I was excited to start this book that covers a period of history that I am not familiar with. This book details the marriage of Joanna, Duchess of Britanny and Henry IV of England which slightly before the period I usually read in, that of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I,
Joanna is the daughter of the King of Navarre and though her father arranged her marriage to John, Duke of Brittany, who is several years older than her, she is happy and content enough in her life which is outwardly successful with a respectable marriage and plenty of children to carry on the family name, However, into her calm, ordered erupts Henry Duke of Lancaster (who will eventually go on to be King Henry IV) and all of a sudden, Joanna's ordered world is turned upside down when she realises that she has fallen in love for the first time in her life.
This is not a fast paced story, but that does not mean that it is not interesting. It is enlightening as to how a woman in history was not necessarily free to follow her heart, and at times, could be at the mercy of men's desires or whims, even if she was the Queen of England. The reader is fully immersed in a first person narrative of Joanna's life and state of mind as she tries to work out how to live her life, balanced between what she desires and her public duties. And although the novel is historical, it shows that Joanna was a woman who was ahead of her time as she was not content to be just a passive participant in Royal life. The descriptions of Joanna's inner torment as she tries to navigate the treacherous corridors of power in the English Court are vivid and intimate.
This is a fascinating read, filled with glorious historical detail which really transports the reader into such a different period of time. The book was an absolute pleasure to read, and I highly recommend it. I will be looking to read more of this author's work.
Thanks to Louise for such a great and detailed review, also many thanks to Sophie from ed Public Relations who sent the copy of The Queen's Choice for review.
Leaving teaching - but not her love of History - Anne turned to novel writing and her passion for giving voice to the oft forgotten women of the medieval era was born.
Today Anne lives in an eighteenth-century cottage in Herefordshire, an area steeped in history and full of inspiration for her work.
Visit Anne online at www.anneobrienbooks.com
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