The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pub. Date: June 8th, 2010
Age Level: 14+
Synopsis via GoodReads
Joan’s mother is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England. She loves them both—so what can she do when she’s forced to choose between them? As her parents’ arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.
When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself with a man ten years her senior. She doesn’t love him, and she can’t quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond.
As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents’ worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more important, whom to love?
I will admit, I've only read a few historical fiction books before. However, as I really enjoyed the ones that I have read, I thought that I was going to love The Queen's Daughter, with it's intriguing premise. Unfortunately I can not say I loved this book, though I guess I liked it well enough.
I found Joan to be a very hard character to connect with; this is something that I don't think was helped by the fact that this story was told in third-person narrative. There were times when I liked Joan and times where she annoyed me greatly. For example, I liked the fact that she had a bold, fiery personality. On the other hand, I thought there were times where she should have, and could have, tried to take more control of the events unfolding in her life. That being said, I was pleased to find that she developed quite well throughout the story and that her emotions felt genuine. Too bad it wasn't until about the last third of the book that I finally managed to form some semblance of a bond with her. There was quite a large array of secondary characters but I felt some of them weren't really around long enough to allow for adequate development. One character who did stick out was Joan's brother, Richard. I didn't like him one dang bit but he was very realistically portrayed and never meant to be liked. As for William, Joan's first husband, I thought he was quite a wuss and then he did something that really ticked me off. However, I also feel he was a bit misunderstood by Joan at times. I often got the feeling that he just wanted her to love and want him; that maybe if she would have at least pretended to be more interested in him, than he would have cared more for her in return. And then, Raymond; he confused me quite a bit. If he always loved Joan then why did he sleep with all of those other women. Why not try and marry her sooner?
The Queen's Daughter is divided into three main parts: Princess Joan, Queen Joanna, and Countess Jeanne. During the first part of the book, I found myself very enveloped in everything going on. There was war, political intrigue, and betrayal. I enjoyed watching Joan grow from just a child to a young teen. However, her life was undoubtedly rough-going during that time. Somewhere around the middle though, the book began to drag and grow monotonous, almost repetitive. It was at this point that I decided I'd set The Queen's Daughter to the side for a moment and read another book and then come back to it, not wanting to spend too much time on one book. Several books later, I picked it back up. To my relief, once I finished up the second part, I found the third part to be much improved in pace and action. As a matter of fact, I actually thought it was better than the first part. Joan was around more for the war going on. There was also more of the politics and betrayal that first got me hooked on this book, not to mention some romance.
I would probably have to say that my only issue with the writing itself would be the fact that it was told in third-person narrative. Unfortunately this was a major issue for me rather than a minor one. It often left me feeling disconnected from Joan and her story, particularly in the second part. Since there wasn't much going on at that time, well there was but Joan wasn't there for it, it really made things move slowly. Had it been told in first person, I would have probably at least had a quicker and easier time connecting to Joan. Aside from that, the writing was beautifully done; everything was so accurately and intricately depicted. You could tell Coventry had done her research on the time period.
I really enjoyed the ending of The Queen's Daughter. I think it's what Joan deserved after all she'd been through and you could really see how she'd matured as a character.
All in all, The Queen's Daughter was a bit of a let down but I did still like it and find it worthwhile. It had it's flaws but it had it's redeeming qualities as well. This isn't a book that I think would be everyone's cup of tea. I would probably recommend it to those who really enjoy historical fiction. I think I probably will eventually re-read this book and I get the feeling I may actually enjoy it more the second time around.
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Monday, September 13, 2010
The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 9/13/2010 07:45:00 AM