Sunday, May 29, 2011

Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer: Review


The story of Queen Isabella, who sought revenge on her husband Edward II, and her lover Sir Roger Mortimer, who masterminded the invasion that accomplished it.

The marriage of Isabella of France and Edward II of England in 1308 is a union meant to secure lasting peace. For years, Isabella is a loyal wife, who repeatedly salvages her husband's kingship, even as she endures his neglect. When she finally speaks out against Edward's favorite, Lord Hugh Despenser, her income, lands and children are taken from her. In an age when women are not supposed to openly defy their husbands, Isabella vows to get her children back and have her revenge on Despenser - no matter what the cost.

Imprisoned in the Tower of London for leading a rebellion against King Edward, Mortimer escapes with Isabella's help and finds refuge in the French court. But when Isabella arrives in Paris to negotiate a peace treaty, it is a temptation the ambitious Mortimer cannot resist.

My Review:

Coming across author N. Gemini Sasson is one of the best discoveries I've made on I was browsing through my recommendations on Amazon around two months ago, and I happened across her Trilogy on Robert the Bruce. I hadn't read very much about him, and the Kindle edition price was incredibly cheap ($2.99), so I bought the first book in the trilogy, THE CROWN IN THE HEATHER, read it in less than two days and became completely hooked. I finished the first two novels in the trilogy in less than a week, and then discovered that the third novel in the Bruce trilogy hasn't quite been completed yet, so I bought ISABEAU knowing that I would love it because Sasson was the author!

I was right, I adored it! Throughout history Isabel of France and Sir Roger Mortimer have been given a bad rap. She's known as a "she-wolf" who cheated on her husband and stole his crown, and Mortimer is known as a devil who wanted to usurp England's crown, and who ran the country through Isabel's son, Edward III, until he finally smartened up and got rid of Mortimer. People never get Isabel or Roger's story, because it's always so biased and one sided. Yes, I'm sure Isabel wasn't the perfect wife, but heck, King Edward II was a horrible husband and a horrible King! He only cared about his current favorites, and his concern was not for his country or his wife, but for the men he was in love with!

Sir Roger Mortimer started off as a loyal follower of the king, but he began to see the true side of the king, and realized that he wasn't worth following anymore, so Mortimer joined in a rebellion against him. Mortimer was lucky to keep his head, and escaped to France after some time spent in The Tower. After Isabel is sent to France to make peace at King Edward II's command, Isabel and Roger Mortimer reconnect and they end up falling in love. Mortimer knows what Isabel has gone through as a wife to Edward II, and he also sees what a beautiful and strong woman she is. As a team they plot to overthrow Edward II, and put the king's son Edward III on the throne. At first working together seems to bring Isabel and Mortimer closer together, but toward the end of the novel you can begin to see the cracks in the love beginning. Mortimer wants to be the man in the relationship, and make all the big decisions without Isabel's help. However, Isabel is a Princess of France and the Queen of England, and she is aware of her power, and wants to use it. Mortimer loves her as a woman, but it's hard for him to back down and listen to her as a Queen. Several times he angers her in public by not listening to her as a Queen, and trying to tell her what to do. It's obvious that Isabel is not going to continue to put up with his less than reverent treatment of her.

I enjoyed getting to know Isabel and Roger as two people in love, rather than as the two power hungry traitors they are usually described as. I also like that this book ends with hope. We obviously know what ends up happening to Roger Mortimer, and we also know that the remainder of Isabel's life isn't all smiles and butterflies, but at least at the end of this book the reader is able to imagine that things do work out for them, and that love endures. I always love a happy ending, and in historical fiction it's often hard to give reader that happy ending, because, well, there wasn't a happy ending! So, although things didn't turn out so well for the love of Isabel and Roger, at least in this fascinating novel there is hope for their future.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars
I can't imagine N. Gemini Sasson writing a novel that I wouldn't give five stars. Anyone who is a fan of historical fiction needs to check out her novels.

I will be reviewing N. Gemini Sasson's novel WORTH DYING FOR (the second novel in The Bruce Trilogy) within the next week. I would have reviewed that novel before ISABEAU, but I am hosting a giveaway for N. Gemini Sasson when I post the review of WORTH DYING FOR. She has been generous enough to offer to provide TWO copies of her novel THE CROWN IN THE HEATHER to two of my followers, and I already have a giveaway going on right now, so I will wait until that giveaway is close to being completed before starting another one!
Anyways, if you would like me to remind you when I host the giveaway for THE CROWN IN THE HEATHER, all you have to do is send me an email stating that you would like to be kept up to date as to when the giveaway begins, and I will send you an email!
Email: kimbers10 [at] yahoo [dot] com

If you would like to order this book please go to:


  1. Thanks for the review. I'm going to add this book to my wish list.

  2. @Melissa--Definitely do read it! I also strongly recommend her Robert the Bruce Trilogy! I reviewed The Crown in the Heather in one of my earlier blog reviews, and I look forward to doing a giveaway for that novel next week sometime!

  3. This sounds like a great read - thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Great review. I've added this one to my list. I think this sounds so interesting. I can't wait to read it.

  5. This sounds really good! I love a bit of historical fiction especially with romance involved :-)

    Leanne @

  6. Great review! I really want to read the book now. I've always thought Isabella is treated pretty harshly in most historical fiction. I mean, plenty of nobles throughout history have taken lovers and/or tried to overthrow their ruler, but she's the one who goes down in history as a ruthless harlot.