Catherine de Valois, King Henry V’s French bride, is a beautiful and intelligent woman and easily dazzles the English people. Yet life at court is often full of intrigue and conspiracies abound. However Catherine believes herself invincible as she gives Henry a son and heir, securing the family line.
When King Henry is stricken with fever and subsequently dies, Catherine finds herself adrift in a foreign land. The regency council takes her young son to raise him as befitting a king and forces her to retire from court. At the secluded manor of Hadham, Catherine surrounds herself with familiar faces from her life in the royal household. Among them is Owen Tudor who served with her husband Henry, and who now serves as chief Steward for her.
Away from prying eyes, Catherine and Owen become lovers; the love between them burning brightly. When someone from the regency council makes a bid for power and tries to seize the throne, Catherine – and those around her – face more than scathing gossip. They face mortal peril.
The truth surrounding Catherine de Valois is generally spotty at best. During this particular time, women weren’t held in the same regard as men and the records reflect that. What really happened to Catherine after Henry’s death is open to interpretation and it is something Hickson takes and runs with.
Told from the point of view of her friend and nursemaid, Guillaumette, we are with Catherine from her marriage to Henry to her eventual illness and death. We are witness to the ups and downs in her short life; the happiness and the heartbreak.
Hickson builds a fascinating world based on what knowledge there is available. It is quite obvious she has done her research for the characters (a goodly number of them real people) seem to come alive on the page. She weaves a tale of mystery and intrigue that captures the imagination. Several times while reading I had to remind myself that much of what she was describing actually happened.
As there is so much of Catherine’s life that is unknown, Hickson does take some liberty with telling the young Queen’s story. This is understandable and is dealt with in quite a believable manner. Those readers who are real sticklers for true historical accuracy might have a few quibbles, but they would be few and far between.
While I am not the biggest fan of books set in this particular era, I enjoyed The Tudor Bride. Readers who enjoy Hickson’s other works as well as the myriad of books set in this time will enjoy this tale.