Crown in Candlelight
Originally published in 1978, Crown in Candlelight covers a tumultuous period of English and French history between 1405 and 1461. This is the story of Katherine of Valois, the strikingly beautiful yet demure daughter of King Charles VI, as told through her eyes. Her father was mentally unstable and known as “the mad king,” while her mother, Queen Isabeau, was more interested in her own concupiscent behavior then attending a sick child.
After the ambitious and handsome King Henry V of England conquers France, he strengthens the joining of the countries by making Katherine his wife and queen. King Henry adores his sweet Katherine, but tragically their time together is short-lived when Henry dies of sickness, but not before giving life to an heir. This leaves Katherine alone in a hostile and dangerous court teeming with deception and treachery.
When Owen Tudor returns two of Katherine’s repaired harps, their eyes meet. With that fleeting moment Katherine feels lonely no longer. Feeling “re-baptized,” she meets him clandestinely. They agree to meet in one week, leaving each of them with a sense of almost unbearable anticipation.
Jarman has compiled extensive research to write this expertly detailed novel. Her strength is in the development of her main characters, the descriptive setting, and the ambiance of the period. I really felt close to Katherine and could empathize with her plight. The plot is richly complex, and although the profusion of characters makes it difficult to follow at times, this is a romantic historical novel to get caught up in. With elaborate details and plot entanglements, Jarman, a master of her craft, will command your focus.