Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Courtesan by Diane Haeger

Amid the disapproving gossip of the Court, a royal romance defies all obstacles.

The Court of François I is full of lust, intrigue, and bawdy bon temps—a different world from the quiet country life Diane de Poitiers led with her elderly husband. Now a widow, the elegant Diane is called back to Court, where the King’s obvious interest marks her as an enemy to the King’s favourite, Anne d’Heilly. The Court is soon electrified by rumors of their confrontations. As Anne calls on her most venomous tricks to drive Diane away, Diane finds an ally in the one member of Court with no allegiance to the King’s mistress: his teenage second son, Henri.

Neglected by his father and disliked by his brothers, Prince Henri expects little from his life. But as his friendship with Diane deepens into infatuation and then a romance that scandalizes the Court, the Prince begins to discover hope for a future with Diane. But fate and his father have other plans for Henri—including a political marriage with Catherine de Medici. Despite daunting obstacles, Henri’s devotion to Diane never wanes; their passion becomes one of the most legendary romances in the history of France.

Although in historical fiction circles Diane Haeger is not regarded as one of the best historical fiction authors this was a darn good read. The story of King Henry II of France and Diane de Poitiers, his mistress. This is a royal romance I know very little about in fact I only found out about it after Googling Diane to find a little background about the book. So that means I don't know if there were any historical inaccuracies, although from other reviews I believe there was although some say there wasn't.

But, whether or not there were lots of historical accuracies the love Diane and Henri shared seemed so powerful and a really beautiful love story. Diane did seem to be portrayed as quite perfect, whether she was in reality I don't know. I think possibly the author was very sympathetic to Diane as we have seen in other authors who are sympathetic to their subject.

It is a beautiful telling of a 30 year love affair with a woman and a man 16 years her junior, I would love to read more about them I understand there is another book about them by Princess Michael of Kent but, apparently its awful, pretty much like the woman herself (my opinion!)


Michele at Reader's Respite said...

This one sounds good. I haven't read too much (fiction) about Diane, but the age difference intrigues me. He clearly saw something in her, right?

I'm adding this to my wishlist!

Daphne said...

I read this last year and liked it a lot - their relationship seemed really beautiful (although today we would probably be creeped out by it!).