(What a Gorgeous cover!!!)
Isabella was the daughter of one of the most powerful French kings in history, Philip lV. She adored her father for not only being a rightful and strong ruler, but also for having truly loved her mother. Surrounded by the example of supreme governance and what it takes to be powerful and respected by your people, left an impressionable mark on the young Isabella. By the time she was sent off to England to marry Edward, she was (even if not physically, but certainly mentally), a very grown up 12 year-old.
From the first pages, Falconer presents us this very special child whose innocence is superseded by incredible insight and intelligence. Isabella grows into a breathtaking beauty equaled by a brilliance that would take her beyond what was imaginable for women in those days. Her husband, King Edward ll, never gave Isabella the love she needed. Young and tender and hoping for love and romance, maybe to live what she had seen with her parents, Isabella craved Edward's love...unfortunately she was born of the wrong gender for Edward's taste...
Putting up with Pier, Edward's love of his life, was only the beginning. Isabella managed to live through this and abide to the obedience demanded of queens to their kings. She even succeeded in winning some of Edward's tenderness along the way by giving consul when necessary. Isabella and Edward's relationship could have survived if that was all. But more than his flaky and bad-judgement relationships with his 'favourites', it was Edward's poor ruling that finally got to Isabella.
When Isabella matured into her own woman she did take matters into her own hands (and in my opinion, what other choice did she have when her own weak husband clearly was nothing of what she expected a ruler to be- bringing England to its own demise?). Her own reigning capabilities, notable diplomatic skills and the abominable Hugh Dispenser, are what finally brought Isabella to decidedly forge her mark.
I loved the way Falconer evokes Isabella's character. From the very beginning her essence is clear: she is innocent, genuine but clearly strong and unshakable. As we grow with her, we feel for her and understand what it may have been like for her every step of the way. Her intentions were always for obvious reasons. Always set aside for another and separated from her children- even her consul, Edward did not want anymore- fool! It was definitely a lonely life for Isabella...but then along comes Mortimer...
Cool, calm and collected, with reason being her best ally, Isabella did not stay put to be remembered as a lonely figure forever.
What an intriguing story! Ironic in how it turns out- Isabella out smarts them all! Known as a she-devil, call her what you want- I dare say this could not be farther from the truth! History hates it when strong women rise to the top; fortunately we have great authors that can convey empathy and the other side of the story (from the heroine's side!). Thank you Colin Falconer.
So how does Isabella fare with me now? Am I enchanted? I'm glad to say that I had a gut feeling there was more to Isabella than the bad-repute she got. I'll file this queen in the same brainy- league as Eleanor, Cleo and Elizabeth; all women history loves to hate. I'm enchanted indeed!
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