book review

Review: The Tudor Bride (Catherine de Valois #2)

Joanna Hickson - The Tudor Bride

The thrilling sequel to The Agincourt Bride, and the story of Catherine de Valois – the French princess who became an English queen.

King Henry V’s new French Queen, Catherine, dazzles the crowds in England, blithely unaware of court undercurrents building against her. Her loyal companion, Guillamette, suspects conspiracies against her queen. But her warnings are ignored, for Catherine believes herself invincible as she gives birth to an heir.

Tragedy strikes when King Henry is struck down by fever back in France and Catherine rushes to his deathbed. A weak and weeping dowager queen follows the slow funeral cortège through France and the King’s Harper, Owen Tudor, plays to comfort her.

Back in England, the regency council removes the new young king from her care, and a defeated Catherine retires to her dower estates, taking Owen with her as Steward. At the secluded manor of Hadham, a smouldering ember bursts into flame as Catherine and Owen Tudor become lovers.

But their love cannot remain a secret forever, and when a grab for power is made by the Duke of Gloucester, Catherine – and those dearest to her – will once again face mortal danger….

First off, that is one of the most spoiler-y summaries I have ever seen. Some of the things it mentions don’t happen until over half way through the book! Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. Having enjoyed the first book in the series a lot, I was really looking forward to reading this book. It didn’t disappoint. It was just as gripping as the first book, and so much happened! I can tell you, I was pretty much crying by the time I finished it, and that isn’t something that often happens to me in historical novels.

One of the best parts of this book are the characters. There’s a huge cast in The Tudor Bride and each of them was well written and so different to the next. The book is in first person, and the narrator is Mette, a maid servant to Catherine de Valois. She’s such a lovely character. Mette is basically a mother to Catherine and clearly cares a lot about her, and there were so many moments between the two characters which made me smile so much. She’s also a very sensible and down-to-earth character who’s ready to say what she thinks to Catherine, and I really enjoyed her narration.

Of course, the book is actually about Catherine and I loved her character once again. Although there were times where she annoyed me a little, I still really enjoyed her story and reading about all the things that she had to go through in her life. Also, she’s definitely not a one-sided character. She’s kind and caring and compassionate, but also stubborn and changes her mood easily. She’s also easily influenced and she changes a lot depending whose company she’s in. It was nice seeing her develop as she got older though, and had more experience in the world.

One thing I wasn’t so keen on was the way time works in the book. Sometimes years go past really quickly, and sometimes it takes a while. Although this is expected in a historical novel based on the whole of someone’s life, I did get a little confused trying to figure how long it had been since a certain events had happened. During the book, Mette would sometimes mention that something or other had happened several years ago, and I’d be quite surprised that so much time had passed.

On the other hand, I loved the descriptions throughout the book, especially of some of the locations like London. They were so realistic and it was easy to imagine what it might’ve looked like. There was just the right amount of detail to describe a place, without it being too much. The same applies to the various outfits people wore. Catherine’s dresses, for example, were never described too much so that it’d be boring reading about them over and over again.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s the story of a friendship that has lasted for years and years, and it is beautifully portrayed. It has definitely become one of my favourite historical novels.

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