Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Myself My Enemy" by Jean Plaidy

I had never read a Jean Plaidy novel before and I was a little skeptical, but this book was very good. It is the first in Plaidy's "Queens of England" series. Henrietta Maria was small in stature but had a big personality. She was spunky and had a bad temper. She was born in France, the daughter of King Henri of Navarre and sister to King Louis XIV. Henrietta married Prince Charles of England who soon became King of England upon his father's death. Their relationship was turbulent at the start but developed into a love that endured until her death. One of the points of conflict was the fact that she was Catholic and England followed the Church of England. She adamantly held to her faith throughout her life attempting to convert her husband and later each of her children. Her youngest, Henriette, was the only child to grow up in the Catholic faith which was a disappointment to Queen Henrietta Maria. She had many disappointments in her life, the biggest when the people of England turned against she and Charles. He sent her to France and fought to keep his throne. Unfortunately, he lost his crown and his head when the Roundheads (Puritans) under Oliver Cromwell defeated him. After Cromwell died, the English people asked Henrietta's son Charles to take the throne again because they were so displeased with Puritan rule.
Henrietta always tried to do whatever she could to help her husband and later, her children. Some of her attempts ended badly, but she always did them out of love. Her love for her husband, Charles, resonates throughout the book and even if you know he comes to a tragic end you don't want to believe it when it happens. In her later years, she kept attempting to arrange things for her children even when they were old enough to do so for themselves - a typical mother, I guess. Personally, I would have pulled back when I saw that I was about to alienate my child, but she did not. Of course, I'm not a queen and don't live in those times. She did truly value her family and, in the end, was reconciled to the remaining living members of it.
I would recommend this book. Perhaps from my description, you would think it is depressing, but it isn't. I really liked it and I'm thinking of reading another...ANOTHER book on my TBR pile??? Of course, who can't resist a good book about royalty?

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