Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: The King's Mistress by Emma Campion

Title: The King's Mistress
Author: Emma Campion
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Century, 2009


Synopsis: from the back of the book.

From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her - at the cost of losing forever the love of her mother and the family she holds dear. But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many 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 obediently embrace her fate once more - as a virtual prisoner at court. And when the king singles her out for more than jus royal patronage 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 hurt.
Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good sense, she learns to use her gifts as wisely as she can. But as one of the king's favourites she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace......

At first sight The King's Mistress appeared to offer everything I could hope for in a book. The lovely cover invites, it's wonderfully big and chunky and it's set in one of my favourite times periods - medieval /14th century. What more could a gal ask for?

Open it up and I find a list of historical figures, a glossary and maps - most interesting the one showing royal residences - and at the the back a list for further reading. I always appreciate these extras and think they're an excellent addition to any historical fiction especially for those who are just beginning to read this genre.

Sadly, that was about as good as it got and I had a real struggle finishng this book and to be honest if I hadn't had it earmarked for several challenges and needed to review it I would have given up.

History hasn't been kind to Alice Perrers and she's generally portrayed as a greedy and grasping women so I did enjoy seeing a different and more positive side of her but a book, particularly one of this size ,needs a great deal more than an account of one person's daily doings. There are so many fascinating supporting characters - King Edward & Queen Philippa, John of Gaunt and his Katherine, Geoffrey Chaucer - and they're all present but none of them come alive. Lots of dialogue and conversations but it all sounds the same and the personalities of the characters don't shine through.
A lack of descriptive prose that evokes images and emotions and makes one feel connected to people ,places and events.

I was disappointed - I didn't like it and it's not one I'd recommend. Emma Campion also writes a medieval series under the name Candace Robb so maybe one day I'll try one of those but I won't be in a hurry.

Royal Mistresses Challenge
Royal Reviews Historical Fiction Challenge
What's in a Name 3 Challenge ( A book with a title)


  1. The period and the characters have so much potential that thios must have been really disappointing. I looked at this in the library, but after just a few pages I realised it wasn't going to work for me and that I wasn't going to plough through all those pages.

  2. Great review! I have to say the publisher's synopsis makes Alice sound a bit bland. I am waiting for this to come in at the library so I'll be comparing notes in due course! And thanks for linking at the Misadventures of Moppet.

  3. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it - I thought it was pretty good although the story was a little drawn out at times.

  4. Daphne - I'm sure a lot of people would agree with you and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Just didn't do it for me.

    Fleur - I felt there was so much potential for something really good too.

    Thans Miss M - I'll be looking forward to your thoughts. You'll probably love it!! :-)

  5. Thanks for this review, I had been wondering if I should add this to my TBR pile.

  6. Wow ... with such a rich cast of historical figures this novel really had potential. Thank you for the honest review.

  7. The cover is so lovely and the story so good, too bad that it didn't work out :(

  8. Don't you hate when you feel like you've got to keep slogging along with a book you don't like for challenge reasons or review reasons? Good job sticking with it!

  9. I do indeed, Jenners ......all those other books just waiting for me ....very frustrating.

  10. Too bad it was a disappointment - that cover is gorgeous!