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The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell

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Miss Moppet
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The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell

Post by Miss Moppet » Tue December 6th, 2011, 3:04 pm

Was Jane Lane really Charles II’s mistress? No one knows for sure, but what is known is that in the troubled years following the English Civil War, she risked her life to help him flee the country. Gillian Bagwell reimagines their relationship with insight and conviction: like Jason and Marie in The Bourne Identity, Jane and Charles find passion in the most dangerous of situations, where their only safety lies in trusting each other. Once they separate, the tension increases, as Jane, waiting to hear if Charles has reached safety, realises she has been implicated in his escape and may have to flee herself. Despite the pace of the first half of the book, it feels solidly researched, with a rich sense of place and atmosphere. The horselore in particular seemed very authentic – everything you might want to know about riding pillion is here!

Unfortunately, once past the halfway mark, the narrative drive which has built up rapidly dissipates as Jane moves from the centre to the fringes of the action. The topography of her continental exile is much less vividly portrayed and her life as a lady in waiting – about which not much is known – doesn’t offer the requisite material for compelling fiction. I would have been quite happy to skip this part of her life and continue the story on the eve of the Restoration.

The final section has some of the most powerful and emotive scenes in the book as Jane has to come to terms with what she has given up for her king - and the realisation that she is only one of many women in his life. She tries to help Lucy Walter, one of Charles’s early mistresses, now on a downward trajectory, while Barbara Palmer is glimpsed at a ball, triumphant in ice blue, at the beginning of her volatile liaison with Charles. Another of Jane’s close friends is the ambitious Anne Hyde, a commoner royal mistress (of the future James II) who sets her sights on marriage. Jane’s fate is different to all of them, and she herself has to determine the end of her story.

I can recommend The September Queen as a fast-paced, sensual chase and a tribute to a courageous woman who made her mark on England’s history.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

annis
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Post by annis » Wed December 7th, 2011, 7:53 pm

I'm looking forward to reading this one. Jane Lane also features quite prominently in Georgette Heyer's Royal Escape, a novel about the time Charles II spent being hunted through England after the Battle of Worcester.

Gillian Bagwell recently posted an interesting article on the Historical Tapestry blog about the Royal Oak - a tradition which preserves the tree Charles hid in while trying to evade his Roundhead enemies, by continuing to propagate from the original.
http://historicaltapestry.blogspot.com/ ... gwell.html

SGM
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Post by SGM » Wed December 7th, 2011, 8:59 pm

[QUOTE=Miss Moppet;94716]Another of Jane’s close friends is the ambitious Anne Hyde, a commoner royal mistress (of the future James II) who sets her sights on marriage. QUOTE]

Hmm. I have never come across that depiction of Anne Hyde before but who knows. I know her father (probably the most stalwart of Charles's advisers during the exile) told her she would ruin them all, particularly with reference to her conversion.

However, I remember in the lead up to the wedding of William and Kate, it was mentioned it was X many hundreds of years since the heir to the throne married a commoner and by my reckoning this was probably a reference to Anne Hyde because I can't think of any commoners between her and Kate, unless we count Maria Fitzherbert who probably did marry the Prince Regent even if not legally.

I think James wanted to renege on his marriage to Anne but Charles wouldn't let him which always made me like Charles all the more.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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