The Queen's Choice opens in 1396, when Joanna of Navarre, already the cherished wife of John de Montfort, Duke of Brittany, meets Henry, Earl of Derby for the first time at the wedding of Richard II to his six year old child bride, Isabella of Valois. Whilst fate decreed that Joanna and Henry would meet at this time, it would be several years before a momentous marriage between them would propel them both into the annals of English history.
Henry, known as Bolingbroke and later, Henry IV, had an uneasy connection with his first cousin Richard II, and even though they were brought up together as children, their troubled relationship would eventually end in a power struggle, which would tear England apart at the seams. In 1399 when Joanna's first husband dies, she is given the responsibly of ruling Brittany until her eldest son comes of age, it’s a challenge that Joanna is more than a match for and yet, an undeniable attraction exists between Joanna and Henry, now Henry IV. When delegates from England attempt to woo Joanna on Henry’s behalf, she has a huge decision to make, either to stay in Brittany with her children, or leave France forever in order to start a new life with a man she knows very little about. There were huge political and personal pitfalls to overcome for both Joanna and Henry and the troubled times in which they lived meant that life was never going to run smoothly for either of them.
The author writes about strong and decisive women with such conviction and uses considerable research to really bring her characters to life. Joanna is shown to be a complex woman with hopes and dreams, and yet, she also both resilient and vulnerable in equal measure. The love story between the royal couple is tender and passionate, but there is never a moment when some higher game of political spin is not being carried out. And such was the emotional pull of the novel that I was irresistibly drawn into royal court life of the early fifteenth century, taken back to a dangerous time when a deadly game of thrones was being carried out in the schemes and machinations of powerful men.
Anne O’Brien writes the type of historical fiction I love to read. Beautifully written, impeccably researched and with a wonderful richness which truly brings history alive on the page. Without doubt, those royal women who have been so long overlooked have finally found their voice in the writing of this talented author.
Best Read with…. A silver gilt ewer of good Rhenish wine and a platter of preserved plums, sticky with syrup ..
My thanks to the author for sharing her book with me and also to the team at ed public relations and to Mira for my copy of this book