My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It has been a while since I have read a historical book about European kings and queens, and I am quite happy to report that this book was not a disappointment. Before reading this book, I only had heard about Edward and Isabella, and probably only in passing. When it comes to European monarchies, I know very little. Author Colin Falconer has brought a very easy-to-read historical novel about Queen Isabella of France/England, and I would venture to say that this book would be enjoyable reading for most historical fiction aficionados. I was able to sit down and read it in the span of a few hours, and I feel as though I have learned an incredible amount about this time period in history.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. There is some profanity in this book, and although it is minimal, the words that are used are what I term hard-core. There is implied sex, but very few details are given. For that, I am eternally grateful. Some may be surprised when I state that the homosexuality in the book did not necessarily bother me. My reasoning is that it historically accurate, and it is not detailed within the book. Generally a book that is told in the present tense does irritate me, but I only noticed this once in a while with this particular book. There were a few times I did find my interest somewhat waning as I read the narrative, but I can excuse that as it may have just been me.
Thankfully, the positives far outweigh any of the negatives I have detailed above. The historical accuracy of this genre is always paramount for me, and it is evident that the author has done his homework. There might be a few liberties taken here and there, but even the unusual ending espouses a viewpoint that is held by many. For sure, the author may have some bias regarding Isabella, but even so, I am convinced that he reports the fact with no more spin than O’Reilly (Fox News Commentator) or any other historian. The vast majority of the characters were believable, and it was refreshing to be able to connect with historical characters. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future, and I can recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
“I was 18 years old, I’d just left school and got a job in London, working in an insurance company. I was working inside – in an office! My mother thought that was like being CEO of Shell Oil.
“I was late one morning, I took a short cut through the church yard to the station to catch my train. I’d just finished reading The Sun Also Rises the night before; and here I was looking at all these gravestones, I remember thinking: Gee, we’re not here very long. Better make it count.
“So I went home, told my mother I was quitting my job and going to Morocco. She damned near fainted.”
After travelling through Spain and Africa, Colin hitch-hiked across Europe to Sweden to visit a girlfriend he’d met the year before on a football tour.
When he finally got back home, he was still restless. After failing to make the grade as a professional football player, he travelled around Asia; his experiences in Bangkok and India later inspired his thriller VENOM, and his adventures in the jungles of the Golden Triangle of Burma and Laos were also filed away for later, the basis of his OPIUM series about the underworld drug trade.
He emigrated to Australia where he helped a mate establish a new advertising agency. “We could only afford this derelict building for an office. Once we were pitching to a client during a thunderstorm and the roof flooded. A piece of the ceiling fell down and just missed his head. Fortunately he had a sense of humour. We got the account!
“After a couple of years we were doing much better. We could even afford to pay ourselves a wage! But I really wanted to be a writer, not a copywriter. When I told my mate I was leaving to try my luck in the Big Smoke, he offered me 40% of the business. It was 40% of nothing at the time. I saw him a couple of years ago, and he’d just sold the agency for twenty million dollars. I worked out what 40% of that was on a pocket calculator. It’s quite a lot of money, apparently.”
Colin went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. But he got his dream, publishing over a dozen novels in the UK and US and having his work sold into translation in Brazil, Belgium, the Czech republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.
He lived for many years in the beautiful Margaret River region in WA, and helped raise two beautiful daughters with his late wife, Helen.
While writing, he also worked in the volunteer ambulance service. “I’d be at my desk typing, then thirty minutes later I might be crawling into an overturned car or running along a beach with the oxygen for a near drowning. It was an interesting time.”
His marriage ended in tragic circumstances, a story he has told in ‘The Naked Husband,’ and its non-fiction sequel, ‘The Year We Seized the Day,’ written with a writing partner, Elizabeth Best.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz. (He was actually trying to cycle down the Death Road. In the end he had to abandon the attempt and take the bus down.) He also completed a nine hundred kilometre walk of the camino in Spain.
A few years ago he stopped writing. ‘I suddenly found I couldn’t do it anymore. It was after‘The Year We Seized the Day.’ I was ridden with guilt and I remember standing on a beach in Thailand late one night, and I said to God: ‘Okay I’ve had enough now.’
A week later I was in a Thai hospital, only time in my whole life I’ve ever been sick, I’d got some sort of tropical infection and I was close to multiple organ failure. I remember praying again (that’s twice in one year!): “Hey I didn’t know you were listening, Big Guy! I didn’t mean it! I have two girls to look out for!”