Although I am hosting a question and answer session with Anne O’Brien on January 12th 2016 as part of the launch of her novel ‘The Queen’s Choice’, I could not wait to share my thoughts about this wonderful book. It is published by Mira on 14th January 2016 in hardback and is available to order here in the UK and here in the US.
In October 1396, Joanna of Navarre meets Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby, for the first time. Their mutual attraction will lead to a marriage that will shape the course of history.
I knew a little about this period of English history, but Anne O’Brien has educated me further with a skill and flair that is outstanding. Historical details and facts underpin effortlessly the relationships, both political and personal, of those living in the early 1400s. This is a book that has been meticulously researched and beautifully written.
Anne O’Brien’s attention to the smallest elements means that there is a tapestry of perfection in her words for even the most demanding reader. There is a feast for the senses as the settings are described. We hear the lutes playing, taste the wines, smell the herbs, touch the soft furs and see the pennants billowing in the wind so that it is like stepping into history rather than reading a narrative. There is incredible skill in the way the past is brought to life.
But for me, the greatest joy in reading ‘The Queen’s Choice’ is the quality of the characterisation. I cared deeply for Joanna and Henry, even when they were at their most recalcitrant and stubborn. I felt their frustrations, their despair and their passion along with them so that I found myself thinking about them when I wasn’t reading the book. I kept hastening back to it at every opportunity. I think it Joanna’s first person perspective that makes the book so compelling.
It is no exaggeration to say I loved ‘The Queen’s Choice’. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction (and indeed, a cracking love story,) will love it too.
The celebrations for this wonderful book begin on Monday 11th January 2016. Be sure to have a look.