‘Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory’ it states on the back cover of this book; I think Philippa Gregory can rest easy – there is no competition here! This is not a historical novel at all, but a romantic story using some historical places, with talk of the fictional realm of Lyonesse, no stated period and a great deal of purple prose!
Catherine, princess of Lyonesse and heiress to her grandfather’s throne was brought to Charles of Aquitaine’s court. She and her sister Anne are virtual prisoners, but Catherine decides to make a stand when the King conquers one of her towns and is banished to a convent where she unrealistically is set to scrub floors. Soon she is brought back to court, where she and her two ladies in waiting who sometimes call each other Mademoiselle and sometimes by their given names live in an old property belonging to her country. Catherine or Katryn as she is sometimes called, becomes unofficially engaged to the Dauphin Louis, but also encounters William de Havilland who later becomes her lord High Admiral. In a Hollywood finale Catherine renounces her love for Louis in place of returning to her country as its rightful Queen, complete with a huge navy!
Catherine is a doughty heroine, her ladies in waiting are real characters, somewhat loose with their morals at court, but faithful to their mistress, and somewhere in the book there is a story waiting to get out; princess wrongfully detained grows up and into her responsibilities and takes her rightful place, the stuff of many a romantic novel, but the writing is so flowery that it does not ring true at all. ‘Lud’ appears all over the place. There is also a danger in using a real place and putting imaginary kings and history into it and this book has fallen into the trap.