First thing I have to admit: I don’t know Plantagenet history so much as I do the War of the Roses or the Tudors for example so this one was a bit of a chore. So many Edward’s, Thomas’s and Joan’s and if they aren’t called by the name it’s the title and the family history (a lot of the characters in this book had parents who killed either killed the other’s parents or are sleeping with them). So the beginning especially was a little rough for me but I did catch on pretty quickly after about four or five chapters you at least figure out who the important players are anyway.
Joan of Kent, cousin to the King is a lovely marriageable prospect and he’s determined to use her. The Crown Prince however is determined to marry her. Joan is in love with Thomas Holland and screw convention she marries him with the help of a couple of not so honest folks looking to embarrass the King. But Joan’s just a girl so her mother and family promptly marry her off to the kid of their choice- Will Montagu. Will has the weird effect in this book of being both weak and pathetic and alternately horrible.
I like Campion’s writing but not really this book. It also continues my unwanted recent streak of innocent animals dying at the hands of horrible people (really there should be a warning on books). And there’s so much scheming! The main annoying scheme is the Queen who wants to keep Joan away from her son but also helps keep her away from her beloved Thomas! Man, if you all just give Joan what she wants she’ll be out of your hair and everyone can be happy!
All other things aside I really didn’t like Joan. She was actually a strong-willed character and despite the fact that she’s tossed around in terms of marriage she has a great sense of agency and will. I admired her ability to stand up for herself and hold her ground in the face of great and powerful resistance. It was an interesting history especially compared to some of the more famous Tudor history where the women didn’t seem at all powerful but I hated her ending and I hated the decision making that seemingly amounted to a Fifty Shades well the sex is great and he worships me so I’ll just overlook the fact that he’s a horrible person.
I’m probably making it out worse than it was due to the ending.
Recommend: Besides the ending and the animal thing I actually would especially if you like this kind of history as a Lifetime movie. Joan is an interesting woman who did make of her life what she wanted. If you read a lot about the Tudors and such (like I tend to do in phases) well it’s just a bit more of a jump back and they were messed up in a whole different way.