Title: The Queen and the Courtesan
Author: Freda Lightfoot
Publisher: Severn House
Goodreads Summary: Henriette d’Entragues isn’t satisfied with simply being the mistress of Henry IV of France; she wants a crown, too. Despite his promises to marry her, the King is obliged by political necessity to ally himself with a rich Italian princess. But Henriette isn’t one for giving up easily.
I was quite excited to read The Queen and the Courtesan because I haven’t read any historical fiction in a while. This book was exactly what I expected it to be, which was both a good and a bad thing. Mistresses, love affairs, Kings, Queens and Court – this had a very ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ feel and I didn’t feel that there was anything particularly new or unique about this book, but it was a good read nonetheless.
I didn’t particularly like any of the characters within the novel. The majority of them were scheming in one way or another with more than one face, though, I suppose everyone was like that in those days. The character that I sympathised with most would have to be the Italian princess, Medici, because she was probably the sweetest and most down to earth character out of the all and was just swept up in the drama of her new husband, King Henry. That said, I still found her incredibly annoying at times. Even though I didn’t particularly like any of the characters I still really enjoyed the book. In these sorts of books where everyone has an agenda it can be quite hard to find a character who you really connect with, though I did sympathise with a lot of them.
I really liked that this book was set in France. I am planning to study French at university and I was happy to see lots of references to France and French culture. In addition, lots of it is set in Fontainbleau where I will be going this October so I felt a bit more of a connection with the book. The odd word here and there is in French and I thought that this was quite a nice touch as it was a subtle reminder of the setting of the novel. Don’t worry if you don’t know any French, the words used are all basic words that most people will already know and if not, the meaning is pretty obvious from the context.
Although the plot line wasn’t particularly original, this book was very well written and engaging from beginning to end. It was slightly more interesting than other historical fiction I’ve read simply because it was set in France, rather than England. I highly recommend this to fans of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and other books of that sort.