Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Book Review: The King's Mistress by Emma Campion

I actually finished this book a couple of weeks ago. I was quite ill at the time, so didn't get a chance to write a review.

I loved this book. In fact, I still find myself thinking about it and reliving some of my favourite, or just plain unforgettable, parts of the book in my mind. I got this from my library (love libraries) but feel I may have to purchase it because I am having the hardest time returning it:-)

I love a good Historical Novel. I have been reading them since I was a teenager (trust me, a long time ago) and have some favourite authors. Emma Campion was new to me. Not surprising as this is her debut novel, but she has been writing historical crime novels under the name of Candace Robb. I look forward to reading more from her.

This is the story of Alice Perrers, a merchant’s daughter who became mistress to Edward III in his later years, told in her own words. I'm not a big fan of first person narratives. It is my experience that very few people can pull first person off well and so many times it comes across jerky and awkward. However, I found myself swept along quite happily with Alice's retelling of her life and in the end fell quite hopelessly in love with Alice and Edward III (and a few of the other characters, as well). In several places I cried.

It's a wonderful story full of sadness, heartache, laughter, royal pageantry, friendship, betrayal and love... a lot of love. The title sounds quite lurid, like that of a bodice ripper, but don't be deceived. It's a lovely story of a young girl and then a young woman cautiously, and not so cautiously, making her way through the joys and pitfalls of loving and surviving. I so admired this character's capacity for love and loyalty in the face of adversity and betrayal. I am trying to continue to carry on the way this novel made me feel in my heart. A bit mushy? Maybe. But in this time of so much division and anger, I was quite relieved to find out that I could still imagine what it may have felt like to blindly love a King, a husband, a number of children, parents, grandparents, and numerous friends and associates in the treacherous times of medieval England. I believe that is a mark of good writer...

If you are a fan of Sharon Kay Penman or Elizabeth Chadwick, I believe you will enjoy this novel.


  1. I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Chadwick, so this sounds just up my street. Thanks for sharing your review.

  2. I love historical novels too (favourite writer Alison Wier). I do so recognise that feeling of bereavement that comes over you when a book you have lived as you read is finished