Saturday, February 6, 2010

"The First Princess Of Wales" by Karen Harper

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I must surely be on a Karen Harper binge! After reading "The Queen's Governess" by Karen Harper last week I decided to read another or her titles, "The First Princess of Wales". I was not disappointed. Although this paperback, published n 2006, sports a hefty 624 pages I have finished it in several days of "bedtime" reading. I have never been a fan of romance novels but it appears that I must be becoming one! I remember when I managed bookstores that I would cast derisive looks at the Harlequin Romance series when they arrived to be shelved. Now here I am reading a book whose title was once "Sweet Passion's Pain"! arghhhh!

This book tells the story, albeit, highly fictionalized, story of Joan of Kent (29 September 1328 – 
7 August 1385)- beloved of Edward, the 'black prince' of Wales15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376). Set during the tumultuous period when threat of war with France was always on the immediate horizon, the tale includes all of the "biggies": love, betrayal, seduction, intrigue, family feuds and war.

I have read reviews of this book that say that it is "over-written"& "historically flawed". I can agree with both of the assessments to a degree. The book is written in a very easy to read style - there are no
pedantic interpretations of history here - and I have read as real historical fiction. In that light I found this book to be an easy, delightful read - and yes, a romance at that. I do think that it offers a true flavor of the period although the hero and heroine are depicted rather as the quintessential lover's -as if Ms. Harper distilled the essence of what a romantic hero and heroine might be.

Was this book worthy of any rewards? No. Was it worthy of a few idle hours of escape? Definitely! If your are looking for a truly historical account of Joan of Kent and her love Prince Edward, look to another venue - but for escapism and distraction I think this is a fine, most enjoyable journey of a read! Ms. Harper even postulates an interesting and amusing historical reason for the term "knights of the garter"!


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