The Duchess of the title is Diane de Poitiers, one-time mistress to the King of France, François I, and thereafter, full-time mistress to Henri II. Extremely beautiful, well-bred and well-educated in all things royal, from languages to hunting, Diane was also rambunctious and defiant of authority.
Young Diane is married to Louis de Brezay, the Grand Seneschal, an old Norman soldier “several years over the mid-century mark.” At first, it is not a marriage of love but of convenience. Diane comes to adore Louis over the many years of their fruitful marriage and is a steadfast wife. It is only after Louis dies that her young charge, King François’s middle son Henri, becomes Diane’s lover. By this point, Henri, who is nineteen years her junior, is married to the ruthless Catherine de’Medici.
Diane’s life in and out of court is inspirational. Her character and personality are well developed. It is clear that the author, a retired businessman, is passionate about his subject matter, and he successfully transports us back to the early sixteenth century. The main problem I’ve found with self-published novels, of which this book is an example, is in the editing. There are innumerable punctuation errors that do not really detract from the story, but nevertheless are annoying.
Other than that, I enjoyed this novel immensely and recommend it.