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Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson

Agincourt Bride (edition 2013)

by Joanna Hickson

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Title:Agincourt Bride
Authors:Joanna Hickson
Info:Harpercollins (2013), Paperback, 400 pages
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The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson




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I knew a little about Catherine de Valois prior to reading this book but not as much as I know other famous women in history which is a bit surprising given that she is the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty. This novel is told from the point of view of her nursemaid, Guillamette. The tale starts with Catherine as an infant and it progresses until just after her marriage to Henry V. (I don't think I've giving anything away here as the history is well recorded.)

The story focuses on Catherine but also on Gullamette, called Mette and her family. This I found interesting because it showed the differences between the classes. France was not exactly well governed with Charles VI - modern historians are not sure what his brain disorder was but whatever it was it certainly passed to Henry VI in England through Catherine.

I enjoyed reading this tale of a girl's change from child to strong young woman. It was a time when women had little power and control over their own lives - even women of wealth. Catherine was little more than a pawn for her mother then her brother to play as they tried to negotiate with Henry V of England. Catherine and Mette were well developed characters as were Mette's children. Some others were more caricatures - Queen Isabelle for example seemed to be a one note character and with the lack of an author's note I had to go a'googling and much of what I found disagreed with the portrayal in the book. I respect the fiction part of historical fiction but I also welcome a note at the end of a story to help me parse that fiction from fact.

The Agincourt Bride was an easy read - I don't think it took me much more than a day and a half. I had the benefit (?) of a power outage which gave me many hours of uninterrupted reading time. I did find myself lost in the story and not wanting to put it down to cook dinner. It did keep me enthralled despite some undeveloped characters and somewhat of a misnomer if you ask me on the title - Agincourt barely appears in the book and Catherine doesn't marry Henry V until several years after that decisive battle.

I am very much looking forward to the next chapter (and book) in Catherine's life as told by Ms. Hickson - The Tudor Bride. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Aug 18, 2014 |
This book has several advantages over other historical fiction novels covering the same period: it is told from that of the wet nurse of Princess Catherine of France, and that much of the "action" is held "off screen" where the future of Mette - and Catherine - is in the hands of others.

Mette, 14 years old and already the new mother of a stillborn baby, is requisitioned to be the wet nurse to the newborn Princess Catherine, daughter of the mad King Charles of France, who fears that since he is made of glass he will shatter at any moment. Her involvement with the royal family comes and goes, dependant on the moods of Catherine, the Queen, and the Queen's lover the Duke of Burgundy. The royal children suffer the vagaries of political machinations, where they are seen purely as pawns to aid power, and are rarely the recipients of parental or familial love.

Over the following 18 years, Mette becomes more useful to Catherine, and ends up being the Mistress of the Wardrobe. From her standpoint Mette sees the effect Burgundy has on Catherine, and what the political manoeuvring with regards to offering her hand in marriage to King Henry V of England. Henry's reputation preceeds him significantly within the book, and it is second or even third hand that rumour and gossip comes through to Catherine's group.

This book is clearly the start of a series and deals with the machinations leading up to a political marriage - Henry V appears as a specific character late in the narrative, Owen Tudor is a passing (though named) character in the last few chapters who, if you didn't know your history, would make you wonder why the author was labouring so much over a Welsh bowman.

Some characters are, by necessity perhaps, a little two dimensional. This is a story of Mette and her relationship with the future Queen of England. So the character development of Mette's son Luc (hound master to the exiled Prince Charles), daughter Alys (seamstress to Princess Catherine) and Son In Law (Alys's lover who gets her pregnant before they get married) are rather unfulfilled.

This is a nice take on a frequently raised story, decently executed and set up decently for the following books in the series
  nordie | Apr 25, 2014 |
This book is the story of princess Catherine de Valois. She is the daughter of King Charles VI of France and Queen Isabeau of Bavaria. Mette becomes a wet-nurse for princess Catherine. With a mad father as a king and a demanding and manipulating, cold mother, Catherine turns to Mette for love and companionship. Mette tells us the tale of Catherine’s marriage to Henry V and her transformation into the Queen of England. The road to queen and happiness is rocky and treacherous. Who can she trust? The villainous and evil Duke of Burgundy uses and abuses her. Her own brother, Charles the Dauphin, with whom she was once close to says Catherine is a traitor at the end of the book.

This book is the type of historical fiction that I enjoy. It is full of deception and intrigue. There were wonderful descriptions of Catherine’s gowns. This is not a romantic story at all, if you are looking for romance this is not for you. The novel weaves together fiction and history well.

I have not decided if I like the new book covers with models dressed as historical figures. The period clothes are beautiful, but this model has a very haunting look. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I definitely liked it, but there was nothing unique or outstanding about it. Even so, I will of course purchase the next book.

The Tudor Bride is the next book in the series to be released in January of 2014. It will pick up where The Agincourt Bride ended. ( )
  Pattymclpn | Jul 24, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007446977, Paperback)

The epic story of the queen who founded the Tudor dynasty, told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory. Her beauty fuelled a war. Her courage captured a king. Her passion would launch the Tudor dynasty. When her own first child is tragically still-born, the young Mette is pressed into service as a wet-nurse at the court of the mad king, Charles VI of France. Her young charge is the princess, Catherine de Valois, caught up in the turbulence and chaos of life at court. Mette and the child forge a bond, one that transcends Mette's lowly position. But as Catherine approaches womanhood, her unique position seals her fate as a pawn between two powerful dynasties. Her brother, The Dauphin and the dark and sinister, Duke of Burgundy will both use Catherine to further the cause of France. Catherine is powerless to stop them, but with the French defeat at the Battle of Agincourt, the tables turn and suddenly her currency has never been higher. But can Mette protect Catherine from forces at court who seek to harm her or will her loyalty to Catherine place her in even greater danger?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:41:59 -0400)

This is the epic story of the queen who founded the Tudor dynasty, told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. Her beauty fuelled a war. Her courage captured a king.

(summary from another edition)

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