This is an interesting and informative look at the supposed early life of Catherine de Valois. Much of the story is narrated by Guillaumette, who becomes the official wet nurse to Catherine when she is abandoned as a baby by her decadent and licentious mother, Isabeau. The story of 15th century life at the French court is beautifully depicted and the fragile and tenuous grip that the royal children had on their own destiny makes for fascinating reading.
Catherine and Guillaumette's relationship is portrayed as one of mother and daughter, and yet the cord which binds them together never loses sight of the fact that Catherine is of royal birth, and as such her fate is very much dictated by whoever happens to be in political power. The scheming court of the Valois, from the debauched world of Isabeau , and her haphazard methods of motherhood, through to the sad and sorry sight of Catherine's father King Charles VI, who is mad to the point of insanity, is portrayed as hot bed of political intrigue. The emotional bond between Catherine and Guillaumette is nicely done and leads the story from Catherine's babyhood, through to her early adolescence when she is on the cusp of her relationship with the English King, Henry V.
The book comes in at a hefty 578 pages, which I think could have been condensed a little, but having said that, the story kept my attention throughout and I am intrigued by the ending of the book which lends itself very nicely to a continuation of Catherine's story in the follow-on book, The Tudor Bride which is due to be published sometime in 2014.
My thanks to Harper Collins for my copy of this book.