Genre: Historical Fiction
Catherine of Braganza is a quiet, reserved, and innocent young lady when she comes to marry the Merry Monarch at the licentious court of Charles II. Her eyes are rather quickly opened when she is introduced to her new husbands mistress, Barbara Palmer. Catherine would have to figure out how to handle her husbands many mistresses: Barbara Palmer, Louise de Kerouaille, Nell Gwyn and many others. Catherine also has to handle the many plots that implicated her in attempts on the Kings life, hatred toward her for her Catholic religion, and failure to conceive an heir.
Plaidy does a great job at describing the many mistresses that Charles II has. We get to see not only how the court and countrymen reacted to these many women but also have an insight into what Catherine might have felt about them. She is a character that you can find much sympathy for, especially as another woman. I can imagine that it would be hard enough to handle one mistress, never mind several at once.
Prior to reading this book I had no experience with the court of Charles II. Charles is quite the interesting person. He was always lively and jovial and quick to brush off personal problems. It is amazing how carefree his life seems to be. While he cares about how his dalliances with other women affect his wife, he also expects her to handle them with decorum and not pay any attention to it (the nerve!).
Of the few Plaidy novels that I have read so far this is one of my favorites. The characters are very well developed and I could really feel for Catherine. Enough background information is given for a solid understanding of these people without having to look anything up to feel comfortable in that time period.
Plaidy is definitely becoming one of my favorite authors!