Sunday, August 8, 2010

"The King's Mistress" by Emma Campion

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I picked up "The King's Mistress" wondering how I would like it. I had never heard of Alice Perrers and had never read anything by Emma Campion. It turns out that Emma Campion is from my part of the world - and I wish that there were other works by her that I could read!

Alice Perrers was the daughter of a Hertfordshire knight whose life span is said to have been approximately from 1348 to 1400. I found the following description of Alice's character on the  Middle- website " She was an ambitious, unscrupulous, indiscreet and greedy woman of humble origins who became one of the most powerful figures at royal court of Edward III". Ms. Campion is, as I have learned the foremost scholar on Alice Perrers and I think that she might disagree about this characterization. Ambitious? Yes, to keep herself and her family intact and comfortable after the loss of her husband (which is in itself a rather interesting tale as presented in the book. Unscrupulous? Doesn't seem that way from reading this book. Indiscreet? No! From what I've gathered from this book it was others around her who were the indiscreet factions. Greedy? Again, it does not appear that way - although she did have a great business sense and used her assets - both personal and financial- well.

Alice was castigated as a whore when King Edward III seduced her during the time that Alice was in service to his Queen- Philippa of Hainault. Ms. Campion paints Alice as a young woman with a good business sense, whose loss of her husband, Janyn Perrers and mother-in-law frames the book with a mystery all it's own. Alice's character is presented as smart,beautiful, a good business woman but also as a rather obedient, cautious woman who was fearful about what the Court would think of her affair with the King. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have stayed up later than I should every night hating to turn the light out and put the down. It's a fascinating glimpse of what the life of a widow and her life at Court might well have been like. I hope that Emma Campion plans to add another title to credits - I will buy it as soon as I can based on my enjoyment of this novel!

Disclosure Note: This book was provided to me for review purposes. No other remuneration was received


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