In 1624 Henrietta Maria, Princess of France, was betrothed to Charles, future King of England as Charles I. Amongst the English delegates sent over to arrange the actual wedding ceremony, albeit by proxy in Notre Dame Cathedral, was Harry Jermyn, who was destined to play a very prominent part in Henrietta’s life. The events of the Civil War are well known, and many of the reasons for it were laid at Henrietta’s door. She was a Roman Catholic at a time when Catholicism was banned in England and saw it as her duty to restore the country to the true faith; she maintained her own household of French Catholics and had her own chapel and priests and when she arrived in England had no knowledge of the language. Against this background was her growing friendship with Harry Jermyn.
I settled down expecting a fast action book full of political and romantic intrigue, but although I found it interesting enough and was fascinated to see how Henrietta’s love affair with Harry Jermyn intermingled with the political climate of the day, on the whole I was not impressed with this version of the story. I found it rather slow in the telling and for me, at least, it lacked any real passion or fire. The main characters, although historically correct, did not really come alive, and had they been simply characters in a story would have been very flat indeed. Fiona Mountain has been likened to Philippa Gregory, but on the basis of this one book, I don’t think Gregory has much to fear yet.