Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Queen's Rival -Diane Haeger

The Queen's Rival
Diane Haeger
NAL, Mar 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9780451232205

Fourteen years old Bessie Blount is part of the retinue of Queen Katherine of Aragon. However, the precocious teen catches the eye of Katherine’s wandering husband King Henry VIII. He wants her, which makes her an enemy of her employer.

The monarch and the teenager begin a tryst, which ends when she becomes pregnant; replaced by the Boleyn sisters. When she gives birth to a son Henry, her baby is removed from her care and she is forced to leave court. She marries her friend, Lord Gilbert Tailbois and has three children with him before his death makes her a widow. She dies from consumption when she is in her thirties.

The latest In the Court of Henry VIII historical thriller (see The Queen’s Mistake), Diane Haeger focuses on the life of Bess Blount who was Henry’s mistress when she was a teen only to be kicked aside when the Boleyn babes arrived at court. Ironically, their offspring is the only illegitimate that the lusty womanizing monarch recognized. Even with Bessie bringing freshness as a rarely used (if ever) character, the period has been the setting so frequently that fans of anything Tudor will find little fresh though "Bless 'ee, Bessie Blount” makes for an engaging biographical fiction anyway.

Harriet Klausner

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