CROWN IN CANDLELIGHT, Rosemary Hawley Jarman, Trafalgar Square Publishing, 2008, $12.95/C$13.95/ £6.99, pb, 414pp,
Originally published in 1978, Crown in Candlelight covers a tumultuous period of English and French history from 1405 to 1461. This is the story of Katherine of Valois, the strikingly beautiful, yet demure daughter of King Charles VI, told through her eyes. Parented by a father who was mentally unstable, The Mad King, and a mother, Queen Isabeau, who was more interested in her own concupiscent behavior then attending a sick child.
When the ambitious and handsome, King Henry V conquers France, he later strengthens the joining of the countries by making Katherine his wife and Queen. King Henry adores his sweet Katherine, but tragically their life together is short lived when Henry dies of sickness, not before giving life to an heir. This leaves Katherine alone, in a hostile and dangerous court where deceptive trust and treachery is teeming at every turn.
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 feeling a mutual sensual sensitivity of unbearable anticipation.
Jarman has compiled extensive research to write this expertly detailed novel. I felt her strength was in the development of her main characters and the descriptive setting and ambiance of the period. I really felt close to Katherine and could empathize with her plight. This is a richly complex historical novel with a profusion of characters making it difficult to follow at times. A romantic historical fiction tale to get caught up in. With elaborate details and plot entanglements, Jarman, a master of her craft, will command your focus.