Book Review: The King’s Mistress – Emma Campion

Title: The King’s Mistress: A Novel
Author: Emma Campion
ISBN: 9780307589255
Pages: 464
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Alice Salisbury is the daughter of a merchant.  At just fourteen, her father is trying to set up her marriage, and betroths her to Janyn Perrers over her mother’s strong objections.  Alice, however, is thrilled with the match – Janyn is handsome and kind, and even though he is much older than Alice, he seems to really care for her.  After they are married, Alice begins to question Janyn’s mysterious dealings and favor from the royal family.  What she discovers, and what happens as a result of this connection, will change Alice’s life forever and set her directly on a course to become the mistress to none other than the king himself.

Review:

I haven’t been reading much historical fiction lately.  A lot has been covered in the genre over the past few years, to the point where the glut of novels about Henry VIII and his wives has been overwhelming.  A lot of the books just feel like more of the same at this point, as there are only so many interpretations of one person that novelists can undertake.  However, when I first heard about The King’s Mistress, I was immediately intrigued.  I had never heard of Alice Perrers, and this book promised something new and fresh.

I really enjoyed The King’s Mistress.  It was expertly researched; Campion clearly studied Alice Perrer’s life thoroughly.  In fact, Campion is a medieval scholar, and it shows in this novel.  The details are perfect and she sets the stage incredibly well.  Her descriptions are precise, but she never weighs the reader down with unnecessary particulars.  I really learned a lot from reading this novel, which was wonderful considering the process was so enjoyable.

Alice Perrers was an incredibly well written character.  I hated that her life was never really hers to command; as was characteristic of the time, she was always subject the whim of a man.  She was smarter and better educated than most of the women of her time, and indeed most men, so it was gratifying when those around her were actually broad minded enough to realize it.  She certainly had a lot of happiness in her life and was a lucky woman, but at the same time she never really had peace.  Every time she thought the world would forget about her and leave her alone, something else happened to bring her back to the center of people’s attention.  It was frustrating as a reader, because I felt so much sympathy for Alice and just wanted her to find some contentment in life.  Campion wrote her heroine such that the reader really gets to know her well.

Alice’s story is an exciting one, full of intrigue and politics, and Campion did an excellent job with it.  She balances well among the competing aspects of Alice’s personal relationships, the goings-on at court, and the broader national politics that England was contending with.  The book never takes on a soap opera or gossipy nature, and is about much more than sex or Alice’s status as a royal mistress, which I appreciated very much.  It’s an intelligent well-written novel; I already can’t wait to see what Campion does next.

Comments

  1. So glad to see you enjoyed this one so much. It’s the next book in my TBR pile.

  2. So glad to see you enjoyed this one so much. It’s the next book in my TBR pile.

  3. This is on my wish list so I’m glad to see you liked it so much!

  4. This is on my wish list so I’m glad to see you liked it so much!

  5. I read this book a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.

  6. I read this book a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.

  7. YEAH! Glad to hear that you loved it! I just won copies from TLC Book Tours, so I am looking forward to reading it.

  8. YEAH! Glad to hear that you loved it! I just won copies from TLC Book Tours, so I am looking forward to reading it.

  9. I have this book up for review very soon and think it sounds excellent! I am so glad that you enjoyed it! I am also looking coward to it. You make it sound a lot more complex than your average historical. Great review!

  10. I have this book up for review very soon and think it sounds excellent! I am so glad that you enjoyed it! I am also looking coward to it. You make it sound a lot more complex than your average historical. Great review!

  11. Oh I must read this one – I must!!! I have been drooling over this one for awhile now.

  12. Oh I must read this one – I must!!! I have been drooling over this one for awhile now.

  13. I really liked this one as well – and it’s nice to read about someone besides the Tudors!

  14. I really liked this one as well – and it’s nice to read about someone besides the Tudors!

  15. Reading this made me realize that its been a while since I read any historical fiction at all !

    BookRack Reviews

  16. Reading this made me realize that its been a while since I read any historical fiction at all !

    BookRack Reviews

  17. I haven’t read anything about the Tudor period, but the raves of this one have me wanting to give it a try.

  18. I haven’t read anything about the Tudor period, but the raves of this one have me wanting to give it a try.

  19. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! It’s really high on my wishlist right now!

  20. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one! It’s really high on my wishlist right now!

  21. In other HF novels set in the era of Edward III, his mistress is not portrayed in a very flattering light. It will be interesting to read about Alice from a sympathetic view.

  22. In other HF novels set in the era of Edward III, his mistress is not portrayed in a very flattering light. It will be interesting to read about Alice from a sympathetic view.

  23. Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you so much for being on the tour!

  24. Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you so much for being on the tour!

  25. Anonymous says:

    found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

  26. Anonymous says:

    found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

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