History has not been kind to Alice Perrers, the notorious mistress of King Edward III. Scholars and contemporaries alike have deemed her a manipulative woman who used her great beauty and sensuality to take advantage of an aging and increasingly senile king. But who was the woman behind the scandal? A cold-hearted opportunist or someone fighting for her very survival?
Like most girls of her era Alice is taught obedience in all things. At the age of fourteen she marries the man her father chooses for her, dutifully accepting the cost of being torn from the family she holds so dear and losing the love of her mother forever. Despite these heartbreaks Alice finds that merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and the two settle into a happy life together. Their bliss is short-lived, however, unraveled the dark day a messenger appears at Alice's door and notifies her of Janyn's sudden disappearance.
In the wake of this tragedy, Alice learns that her husband kept many dangerous secrets--secrets that result in a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Her only chance to survive lies in the protection of King Edward and Queen Philippa, but she therefore must live at court as a virtual prisoner. When she is singled out by the king for more than just royal patronage, the stakes are raised. Disobeying Edward is not an option, not when her family is at risk, but the court is full of ambitious men and women, many of whom will stop at nothing to see her fall fron grace. The whispers and gossip abound, isolating Alice, who finds unexpected solace in her love for the king.
Emma Campion paints a colorful and thrilling portrait of the court of Edward III--with all of its extravagance, scandalous love affairs, political machinations, and murder--and the devastating results of being singled out by the royal family. At the center of the storm is Alice, surviving by her wits in this dangerous world where the choices are not always of her own making. Emma Campion's dazzling novel shows that there is always another side to the story.
(Terra's Thoughts) The cover on this book looks fabulous and believe me the story in between is equally captivating. The story is paced perfectly from beginning to end and leaves you wondering how people could actually live like this at any time period.
There is so much that goes on with the story here of Alice Salisbury and it shows you the innocence, kindness, love, anger, hatred and so many more emotions that we as humans take for granted every day without thought as to how it will affect others. I do believe that even though during the reign of King Edward and Queen Philippa things were anything short of quiet and peaceful, the subjects of the King and Queen's knew more how to take care of themselves and use their wits than we do today.
Our story starts off with Alice Salisbury, a merchant's daughter who is only thirteen is betrothed to marry and does indeed marry a rich merchant within six months that is twenty years her senior. Alice's husband is kind, gentle and very caring of her but he is also keeping a secret that will in effect plague Alice for most of her life. Thank goodness she is made of stronger stuff than those that were born with silver spoons in their mouths.
As the story progresses, Alice is summoned to be part of Queen Philippa's household and is groomed by the Queen herself for a very important role that will take Alice down some dark and dangerous avenues. This all takes place without Alice's even recognizing a hint of what the Royals are up to and will test her in every capacity that a woman can indeed be tested.
I found the story to be breath taking in every sense of the word. From the descriptions of horses to houses to castles to the very clothes that the Royals wore kept me entranced and struggling to put the book down. Even now as I write this my mind wanders to the possibilities of what I would've done if caught in the same life shackling situation. A must read for anyone who loves a good book.
Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Crown (July 6, 2010)