Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Queen's Secret

Here's a timely Plaidy review: The Queen's Secret, reissued recently. It's about Katherine of Valois, queen to Henry V and secret wife of Owen Tudor.

Katherine tells her story in the first person, beginning with her miserable, insecure childhood in France with her mentally ill father and her corrupt mother and ending with her forcible separation from the love of her life, Owen Tudor.

Plaidy's depiction of Katherine's childhood and its effects on her as a woman gives her a certain psychological depth, and though Katherine is ultimately helpless to prevent her fate, she preserves a certain dignity and strength about her that keeps her in the reader's sympathies. Plaidy also is good at conveying the mixed feelings that Katherine has as a French princess married to an English king, a situation that makes her position in both countries difficult.

I did find the structure here--it's one of those novels where the narrator looks back upon her life as she prepares for death--a bit limiting. Although we know from history what was to become of Owen Tudor and Katherine's children after her death, the novel leaves their stories unresolved, so there's still a sense of being left hanging when the novel ends.

From what I've read after reading this novel, little is known about how the relationship of Owen Tudor and Katherine came about. I thought that Plaidy's version of it was plausible and that Katherine's willingness to risk all for love showed an appealing, and believable, reckless streak in her character.

All in all, a worthy addition to your Plaidy shelf, either in this spanking new version or in one of the older ones.

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