Isabella of Angouleme
Betrothed to the Count of Lusignan, twelve-year-old Isabella is to meet John, King of England, who becomes besotted with her. He persuades her parents to terminate the betrothal and marries her himself, thus starting events that eventually lead to his French lands confiscated, armed conflict, excommunication, and his barons rising against him.
Concentrating on Isabella’s life, Ms Lainé’s chronology is excellent, Isabella has a volatile, precocious, temperament and the opening chapter shows her as evocative and colourful, but the academic does tend to drive the style, rather than the characters and plot, while an absence of narrative detail does not bring the text to life quite as it should, although academically this is immaterial. The author’s research into Isabella’s personal timeline takes priority at the expense of other historical content, therefore, dialogue is limited to what is necessary to compliment the narrative rather than develop it … but … this is a first novel and the author has the potential to iron out the wrinkles for subsequent novels in the series.
The book is very professionally produced and presented, and could easily satisfy curious readers looking for a simplistic view of Isabella’s life outside the rigidity of a dull text book, or one dominated by her more famous mother-in-law.