Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review-The Queen's Rival, In the Court of Henry VIII

Diane Haeger
New American Library, March 2011
$15.00 U.S./18.50 CAN.
416 pages

Review by Wisteria

Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount, through her uncle, Lord Mountjoy’s connections is given the opportunity to serve Katherine of Aragon as a maid of honor in King Henry VIII’s court.  She is bedazzled, a naive 14 year old, with unabashed enthusiasm and visions of endless possibilities. As a family favor she was granted the covetous position. Her appearance at court is not as she expected, she begins to feel unwanted and quickly realizes the allure of court life is a double edged sword. Gossip, innuendo and the quest for individual favor and power permeate the atmosphere, and life is quiet and dull.

When King Henry is in residence, his love and lustful pursuit of all pleasures makes the court bloom with joy. His pursuit of beautiful women is legendary as are his inevitable callous and ruthless breakups that cast aside his lovers.  Bessie Blount is different and Haeger portrays the vulnerability of the king as he struggles with his desire and need to be with this lover.  From the moment he meets her, his passion is stirred with unique desperation.  History will show that Bessie Blount did become King Henry’s mistress and their union did produce his son.

Haeger has a remarkable sense for creating believable characters. Although historical fiction, the story is teeming with facts. The Queen’s Rival is fascinating to read as most  characters are pulled from history sparking the curious mind to research further.  Henry Fitzroy was adored and loved by King Henry and spellbound by Bessie Blount. Haeger’s story is imaginative, seductive and just as spellbinding. The Queen’s Rival is less about the scheming and struggle for power that defined the Tudor Court as it is about Henry’s fairy tale love for Bessie Blount.

This review originally published March 2011 edition of Historical Novels Review.
The copy of this book was sent to me by HNR at no cost. 

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011].

1 comment:

Na said...

To be honest, I tend to shy away from historical fiction concerning the King's Court, not because they don't fascinate me because they do. I watched many tv films and channels and read about the turmultuous love stories and power struggles that exist in a court. Everything from the multiple wives, heirs, jealousy and scheming. Often I find these stories overwhelming with facts and not enough of a story. I am glad to hear it is more about Henry's love for Bessie than the court's politics.