Loyal in Love: Henrietta Maria, Wife of Charles l

Written by Jean Plaidy
Review by Troy Reed

Plaidy’s eighth novel in her Queens of England series, a reprint of the 1983 title Myself, My Enemy, brings readers the story of Henrietta Maria, the oft-forgotten wife of England’s Charles I.

Henrietta, daughter of King Henry IV of France, was a strong-willed, opinionated young woman when she came to England as the wife of Charles I in 1625. Charles and Henrietta engaged in conflict during their early years of marriage, but soon they found a common ground and fell deeply in love with one another. Throughout their lives together, Henrietta was fiercely loyal to her husband, though they suffered much heartache in the loss of many of their children.

The English people, however, were none too kind to her. She met with suspicion and hatred from the very start because of her religious background as a Catholic, whereas her husband was a Protestant. She was never fully embraced as England’s queen.

Loyal in Love is rich in details, family struggles, and political intrigue, and the rise of Cromwell and the Puritans is skillfully depicted. Henrietta tried to rally support and raise funds to support Charles and the Royalist cause during the English Civil War, but by turning to those she knew well, such as the French and the Pope, Henrietta angered her countrymen even more, putting her husband in even more danger.

Using the first person, Plaidy does a remarkable job of allowing readers insight into Henrietta’s thoughts, feelings, and deep regrets over the course of her long life. Henrietta is portrayed realistically as a woman made somber and introspective over time as she reflects how her own beliefs were used against her, ultimately leading to the downfall and execution of her husband. A riveting must read about one of the most dramatic and turbulent periods in England’s history.