Wednesday 13 October 2010

Book Review: The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry

I LOVE this cover, it is so striking and
beautiful, the colours are amazing! One of my favourites
this year!

Thank you very much to the author, Susan Coventry for kindly sending me a copy for review

Synopsis (from inside cover)

When I saw this synopsis I knew instantly that it was definitely the kind of book that I would love, especially as it is YA historical fiction!

Joan’s mother is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England. She loves them both—so what can she do when she’s forced to choose between them? As her parents’ arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.

When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself with a man ten years her senior. She doesn’t love him, and she can’t quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond.

As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents’ worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more important, whom to love

My review and thoughts
I was very interested by the fact that the book is told from the point of view of Jone, who is a historical figure that I had never heard of before and not much information is know about her. When we first meet Jone she is a six year old child who is very naive but still knowledgeable for her years and is often neglected by her parents King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine who are feuding. Whilst her brothers are fighting for the attention of her father, her mother teaches her about the politics of the country and court and how a good Queen should act. I was captured by the confusion that young Jone felt by loving two parents who hated each other and wanted to find out what her fate would be as she grew up as a political pawn for her torn family. Coventry’s phenomenally descriptive writing really drew me into the story and Jone’s world- I felt her pain and shared her heartbreak as she was married off to King William of Sicily-who is ten hears older than her and has no time or patience for a child bride except to one day produce an heir- and her joy in her later marriage to Raymond of Tolouse. Kept as a virtual prisoner in her apartments in Sicily, Jone proves herself to be a strong and determined young woman trying to make the best out of her situation even though she is homesick and lonely.

Susan Coventry did a wonderful job of padding out the character of Jone around the few basic facts about her life that we know about and I loved following her story from young Princess to a thirty year old strong and passionate woman through the many ups and downs that she experienced. I also liked the way that her 'voice' in the narration matured (even though it wasn't written in the first person), it was especially fascinating at the beginning to view the turmoil and undercurrents at court between her parents and her brothers the young King Henry, Richard Duke of Aquitaine, Geoffrey Duke of Brittany and John through the eyes of six year old Jone. By the end of the book I felt like I knew Jone inside out as I had ‘seen’ her grow up and go through a journey and I wanted a happy ending and a marriage based on love for her.

Jone’s story was rich in historical detail that was clearly well researched and I really enjoyed finding out about the 12th century in different countries, as this is something I have never read about before. I was particularly interested in the inclusion of the Crusades in the story and would like to read more about it. However, I sometimes felt that there were a few too many facts, which overpowered the story in places. This was partly why I found the beginning of the story slow paced and a bit hard to get into but it also meant that I was able to follow the story better and know the large cast of characters.

Verdict: The Queen’s Daughter is a book that really brings the life and character of Jone to life, when she is so often overlooked in history through heart wrenching emotions and in depth and captivating setting as well as detail. I would highly recommend this book to historical fiction fans young or old, it makes a brilliant introduction to a famous historical family. The Queen’s Daughter is an amazing and creative debut- I can’t wait to read what Susan Coventry writes next!

Note: Whilst this is a young adult novel I would like to point out that there are a few sexual references although nothing is explicit at all otherwise I would not have read it

Extract from The Queen's Daughter (taken from the back of the book's jacket)

'Joan swallowed and held out her tongue. Of course. A Queen had to be aware of all the undercurrents at court. A Queen has to know everything about the realm's enemies. A Queen must be familiar with the resources and workings of her domain. A queen must make her husband welcome in her bed, give him heirs, but not be fool enough to love him. The only thing Mama had failed to explain is why anyone would want to be queen.'

To read a longer extract, please visit this link to a page on Susan Coventry's website which also tells you more about herself and the inspiration for her book.


  1. I didn't even know YA historical fiction existed! This book sounds interesting, I'll have to check it out :)

  2. That's really interesting story! And what a beautiful cover!<3 I would define telly buy it!
    Thanks Stephanie!

  3. great review!! this looks exactly like something I would like to read.

  4. Great review. You answered all of my questions about this book. I like that you mentioned the voice "ages" as the character ages. I like to see that kind of growth and development. I hope to read this book this year.


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