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The King's Mistress by Emma Campion
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The King's Mistress

by Emma Campion

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Good historical book with information on England during the time of Chaucer's life. I liked the story and writing just fine, but it did sometimes feel as if it was just a historical dialogue. Reminds me a bit of Forever Amber or Katherine, books that were big during my mom's day in the 60s (which I naturally read, having found them in her bookshelf). ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
I was hooked from the first page. This novel represents what I love most about reading historical fiction. Emma Campion has taken Alice Perrers, whom little is known of, and filled out her life to explain why she was so notorious at the time, and why her reputation was undeserved.

The story begins when Alice is fourteen and about to be wed to Janyn Perrers, a merchant her family has chosen for her. The author handles this delicately, Alice seems very mature for her age so you do not get the impression of child abuse, in fact it is more of a fairytale begining. Janyn seems to good to be true.

This story has the right balance of romance and suspense, as well as giving the reader insight to Edward III's court as well as a glimpse of his notorious mother, Isabella of France. Alice is telling her story in first person, and you really feel you are there with her.

This was obviously a labor of love for the author, and I can't wait to see what she writes next! ( )
  chrgabel515 | Jun 6, 2014 |
The King's Mistress is indeed heavy on the historical detail rather than fiction, so heads up on that. It did not deter me from enjoying the narrative, as 14th century historical fiction is a rather untouched area for me. Alice had little choice in her life's path and it was interesting to watch her grapple with that and also with being a mother. ( )
  amandacb | Aug 4, 2013 |
"When had I a choice to be other than I was?"

So begins this fictional autobiography of Alice Perrars' life.

And that's about where I stopped caring overly much.

That's harsher than I mean to be, because the book was okay, but I have very, very little tolerance for excuses. And this was a running theme throughout the book. That's where my biggest problem lay.

I have to say that I don't recall ever coming across Alice Perrars before. She was married to a merchant but then became Edward III's consort. Apparently, the people blamed her for a lot of things that the king did and that went wrong in the country, but "what choice had she?"

It's been months since I finished reading this, so all I can say is that, aside from the excuses that turned me off, Alice had an interesting life. She rose higher than any commoner should have been able to. In this book, she didn't ask for any of it. She only wanted a quiet life with her children away from the public eye.

The other thing that I didn't like was the amount of detail. It took me forever to get through this book! It felt like every little possible meeting with the king and/or queen was detailed here. I quickly lose interest if a book is moving too slow.

Historical England is always interesting to me, so the book still gets three stars. Those who don't mind excuses will probably be more interested than I was. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
Prior to this novel, my image of Alice Perrers, Edward III's mistress, was that of the greedy mistress taking the rings off of the dead Edward III's hands, as she is remembered in the chronicles. However, Emma Campion clearly did her research well in this novelization of Alice's life and convincingly rehabilitates Alice's reputation. Alice Perrers emerges as the obedient daughter of London merchants, who is married young to a merchant with suspicious royal connections, and finds herself in the royal household where she comes under the watchful eye of the king. Alice emerges as a likable character, one who does the best with what she is given, and a smart woman who takes on the management of properties in an age when women were considered property. But Alice is also the victim of men more powerful than she. A good read, one that makes 14th-century England come alive in detail and imagery. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Nov 25, 2012 |
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When had I a choice to be other than I was?
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"Originally published in paperback in slightly different form in Great Britain by Century, an imprint of the Random House Group Limited, London, in 2009." T.p. verso
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Book description
History has not been kind to Alice Perrers, the notorious mistress of King Edward III. Scholars and contemporaries alike have deemed he a manipulative woman who used her great beauty and sensuality to take advantage of an aging and increasingly senile king. But who was the woman behind the scandal? A cold-hearted opportunist or someone fighting for her very survival?

Like most girls of her era Alice is taught obedience in all things. At the age of fourteen she marries the man her father chooses for her, dutifully accepting the cost of being torn from the family she holds so dear and losing the love of her mother forever. Despite these heartbreaks Alice finds that merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and the two settle into a happy life together. Their bliss is short-lived, however, unraveled the dark day a messenger appears at Alice's door and notifies her of Janyn's sudden disappearance.

In the wake of this tragedy Alice learns that her husband kept many dangerous secrets--secrets that result in a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Her only chance to survive lies in the protection of King Edward and Queen Philippa, but she must therefore live at court as a virtual prisoner. When she is singled out by the king for more than just royal patronage, the stakes are raised. Disobeying Edward is not an option, not when her family is at risk, but the court is full of ambitious men and women, many of whom will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace. The whispers and gossip abound isolating Alice, who finds unexpected solace in her love for the king.

Emma Campion paints a colorful and thrilling portrait of the court of Edward III--with all of its extravagance, scandalous love affairs, political machinations, and murder--and the devastating results of being singled out by the royal family. At the center of the storm is Alice, surviving by her wits in this dangerous world where the choices are not always of her own making. Emma Campion's novel shows that there is always another side to the story. [from the jacket]
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"From childhood Alice Salisbury learned obedience in all things, so at the age of fourteen, she dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her - at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever, as well as the family she holds dear. But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Her happiness is short-lived, however, ending when a messenger brings news of Janyn's sudden disappearance. Alice discovers that her husband had many dangerous secrets, secrets which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more - as a virtual prisoner at Court. When the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from harm. Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good business sense, she uses her gifts as wisely as she can in order to ensure her family's survival."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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