‘Cavalier Queen’ begins at the onset of the marriage arrangements between fourteen year old Princess Henrietta of France and Charles I of England. A political match, the alliance was intended to end the poor relations between England and France at that time and go someway to healing the rift between Catholic and Protestant in Charles’ homeland. However, rather than being a soothing balm, the union instead causes more discord, and soon England is in the midst of a civil war and Henrietta risks not only losing her own life but those of her family and her adored lover, Harry Jermyn.
It took a little while for me to properly get into this book; I was waiting for Henrietta to go to England and for her life as Queen there to start. But once she was married, I loved seeing Henrietta’s character develop as she grew up and experienced all that her very turbulent life threw at her. Who’d have thought that the pretty young princess who spent her time doing her hair and playing with her beloved dog would be capable of leading an army and organising the huge quantities of supplies sent to aid her husband’s efforts during the Civil War?
Mountain did a good job of untangling Henrietta’s feelings and convincing me of the Queen’s love for both her husband and her lover. She cares about them in very different ways, but it is her love for Jermyn that consumes her and gives the young queen her first taste of passion. She cannot give Jermyn up regardless of her duty to her adopted country and her husband.
The religious and political arguments of the period were obviously well researched and feature prominently throughout the book. I felt that I was given a good overview to comprehend the context and import of the king’s actions, but wasn’t overly bogged down with too much information, which might have taken away from Henrietta’s story.
I love history and found the historical side of the book as fascinating as its human aspect. Mountain uses historical fact as a firm basis to the plot whilst making good use of fiction to fill in any gaps. The result is a well-paced and extremely readable novel, appealing to general fiction lovers as well as history fans. ‘Cavalier Queen’ was beautifully written, utterly compelling and extremely engaging.
4 and a half stars