Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

Author: Helen Hollick
Publisher: Sourcebook
Pages: 622
Source: Publisher
Category: Historical Fiction
Reprint: The Hollow Crown
Rating: 5/5

Helen Hollick creates a fascinating world during Pre-Medieval England. The story of 'The Forever Queen' recounts the story of Queen Emma. A young girl who understood that as the daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, and sister of Richard II she would have to marry. It was her duty to marry a royal. Daughters were an opportunity to form alliances, and agreements. Emma, the youngest sister was married to the King of England, Aethelred 'The unready.' A man 21 years her senior, a man who was abusive and incompetent. As Emma is crowned Queen of England, she begins life as a timid, bashful, and insecure young girl. During her first couple of months as Queen, Emma endures many uncomfortable situations. She must bed her husband, learn to speak a new language, and endure many resentful women. Emma clung to her mother' advice 'never shed a tear in public.' Quickly she became confident, determined and compassionate. Emma falls in love with England, and vowed to give her all to her country. She weeds out those who want to hurt her, and tries to make the best of her situation. She deem's her husband as an incompetent coward, a man unsure of himself and how to rule, a man who trusts the wrong advisors, and completely ineffective as a ruler. Aethelred was loathed by his young bride. He would feed his ego by pummelling her or others smaller than himself. She reluctantly bore him two sons, and a daughter. Children she tried to remained detached from. Her first son was conceived through rape, her second- duty and her daughter would be married and sent away, never allowed to stay with her. Once Emma had her children, she had leverage. She would not stand down from her husband, and proved that she was secure in her role as Queen. Emma outlived Aethelred, and eventually England is inherited by Cnut of Danes. Emma finds herself in a precarious situation. She could possibly loose everything, and be at her brother' mercy once again. She takes her life in her own hands, and suggests to Cnut an offer he couldn't possibly refuse. Emma becomes his Queen. Cnut has England's approval, Emma still has her home. Emma marries a man she grows to love, respect, and admire.

Overall Impression:

I loved this one! I'm a huge historical fiction fan. This book is filled with action, adventure, emotion and suspense. Once you start this book, you will not want to put it down. The history is very well researched, and the flow of the novel is perfect. The details are not hard to follow, and the characters very easy to remember. Considering a lot of the names look similar, I was very pleased to remember the characters. I usually have a hard time when too many characters are introduced. This book was an exception, I knew within the first couple of pages that this book was for me.The descriptions are beautiful and Hellen Hollick creates a fascinating world filled with violence, battle and uncertainty. Emma' emotions are real, her story believable and astounding. She was a remarkable historical woman. 'The Forever Queen' was a great surprise! Highly recommended. Definitely, a 'top 10 2010' book read.

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