Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer


She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel. 

12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England - only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair - does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death - or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight - but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage - and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston - and why is his presence in the king’s

court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny - but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life - and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England - and win.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, ISABELLA is thoroughly researched and fast paced, the little known story of the one invasion the English never talk about.

My Review:

“Isabella: Braveheart of France” by Colin Falconer is an excellent work of historical fiction. I was excited when I received a request to read and review this novel, because it takes place during one of, what I consider to be, the most interesting periods in history. It takes place during reign of Edward II, when England was still at odds with Robert the Bruce in Scotland, and in a fragile peace with, his wife Isabella’s brother, the King of France.

There are many rumors surrounding Edward II and his ‘favorites.’ Most historians tend to agree that these favorites, Gaveston and Despenser, were likely Edward II’s lovers, even though there is no solid proof Edward II was homosexual. His overt favoritism towards these men, during different times in his reign, caused much anger among those men who were higher ranking. It also caused his wife, the Queen of England, Isabella to feel animosity towards these men. The novel does an excellent job of giving the reader an idea of what was really going on during this time period. We are able to see Isabella’s struggle to accept something which she cannot control, which is the fact that Edward will never love her like she wants and needs him to and he chooses others before her. Falconer also does a great job painting a picture of Edward’s weaknesses, which eventually cost him the crown of England. Even a reader not familiar with this time period will be able to grasp what is going on fairly easily, because the author does a great job of giving the reader the details in an interesting way, without feeling like they’re reading a history book. Isabella is really brought to life in this novel, and the author doesn’t put her into the ‘she-wolf’ role that many authors have done before. Yes, she is a strong woman, and she is intelligent as well as a shrewd judge of character, but she is not the ‘man-eater’, who stole her husband’s crown for her son and then had him killed, that many historians have made her out to be. I think the author did an excellent job of portraying her as what, I believe, she was really like during her lifetime. The affair between Mortimer and Isabella is also brought to life in this novel, and that was a plus for me, because I believe that historical fiction containing some semblance of a love story or a romance adds to the overall interest level.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It kept my interest throughout, and I believe the author stayed true to the actual history of that time period. The novel is written in third person, but in present tense. This distracted me at first, because I’m used to third person, historical fiction novels being written in the past tense. After a couple chapters I became familiar with his style of writing, and it was no longer a distraction. Anyone who has interest in Medieval Europe, or in historical fiction dealing with England’s Kings and Queens, will definitely find this novel to be very interesting. I would recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction.

I give this novel five out of five stars!

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