Read The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson Online

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The epic story of the queen who founded the Tudor dynasty, told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory.When her own first child is tragically still-born, the young Mette is pressed into service as a wet-nurse at the court of the mad king, Charles VI of France. Her young charge is the princess, Catherine de Valois, caught up in the turbThe epic story of the queen who founded the Tudor dynasty, told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory.When her own first child is tragically still-born, the young Mette is pressed into service as a wet-nurse at the court of the mad king, Charles VI of France. Her young charge is the princess, Catherine de Valois, caught up in the turbulence and chaos of life at court.Mette and the child forge a bond, one that transcends Mette’s lowly position.But as Catherine approaches womanhood, her unique position seals her fate as a pawn between two powerful dynasties. Her brother, The Dauphin and the dark and sinister, Duke of Burgundy will both use Catherine to further the cause of France.Catherine is powerless to stop them, but with the French defeat at the Battle of Agincourt, the tables turn and suddenly her currency has never been higher. But can Mette protect Catherine from forces at court who seek to harm her or will her loyalty to Catherine place her in even greater danger?...

Title : The Agincourt Bride
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007446971
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 578 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Agincourt Bride Reviews

  • Lisa Christian
    2018-11-16 20:32

    I was disappointed in the Agincourt Bride, for many reasons. I felt that the novel had great potential, because it was written from the point-of-view of Katherine of Valois’s wet nurse turned Mistress of the Robes, Mette. This approach was different from many other historical fiction novels written about Katherine and Henry V and Owen Tudor. The novel certainly started strong with the fifteen-year-old Mette assuming her position as wet nurse in the royal household. Of course, as Katherine was just an infant, Mette’s point-of-view was essential in describing the conditions of the royal children under the neglect of their ambitious mother Queen Isabeau and mad father King Charles VI of France. It allowed the reader to see life in a royal household and a castle in good detail – how life was actually lived – cooking, cleaning, starving, the cold and the damp and the precariousness of living life according to the whim of a monarch or his/her entourage – and of course how all the shifting alliances and allegiances affect the servants, the peasants, artisans etc. So much of what we see in historical fiction remains in the point-of-view of the aristocracy and the royalty that we rarely get a glimpse of life as it was truly lived for most of the population. In that respect, Hickson did a very good job of portraying the struggles.However, the very point-of-view which provided early strength for the novel also weakened the narrative and the characterisations of Mette and Katherine as Katherine grew older. In her infancy, Mette was Katherine only source of comfort, strength, and guidance, and Mette’s struggle to provide the neglected royal children with day to day necessities was both touching and visceral. We always expect the royal and aristocratic children to have been somewhat well-cared-for in those days – if, for nothing else, their potential diplomatic and economic value to the state. But, this was not the case for the Valois children. I am not so familiar with the French court in the 14th and early 15th centuries so I cannot say with certainty that Hickson portrayed Katherine’s children with great accuracy, though I do remember reading about Charles VI’s madness in history class, and that the royal children suffered some neglect through that madness and their mother’s political intrigues.Where the novel fails for me: Mette’s idealisation of Katherine. Of course she views Katherine through a maternal lens, but Hickson fails to delve into the details of Mette’s concern for Katherine as certain tragedies befall her. I do not want to reveal any spoilers here except to say that I simply to not know how accurate these tragedies are, though I suspect that they are at least exaggerated for narrative effect, because of the dearth of historical documents concerning Katherine at this time. In any case, whether Hickson fabricated drama here or not is not my peeve – but rather that she fails to really examine the effects of these tragedies upon Katherine’s psyche and Mette’s as well. Mette seems far more concerned with portraying her charge as the perfect, angelic princess than how she really might have been, or how she coped with her family issues and the on-off negotiations with Henry V for her hand in marriage.Mette’s Katherine is too much a picture of perfection and never fully seems like a real, breathing person as a consequence.And neither really does Mette. For Mette, in fact, has her own life, family, etc., but they are fleeting characters and do not even seem to particularly be of concern to Mette herself. Although I do realise that Katherine is the centre point on which the novel rotates, Mette’s own children only appear when they have something to do for importance to Katherine, and consequently, they feel peripheral to Mette’s life as well. A stronger sense of characterisation for Mette and Katherine could have allowed Mette to be more than a conduit for Katherine’s voice without sacrificing Mette’s role as narrator or her own personality. And strangely, although Henry V only appears in person near the end of the book, his personality and presence pervades throughout the novel during Katherine teenage and young adult years. Hickson’s portrayal of Henry is excellent – for we both see glimpses of Shakespeare’s legendary Prince Hall and reformed Henry V, as well as the real Henry. He is not perfect and Hickson does not attempt to make him into the exemplary hero of romance. Perhaps because Mette herself has not predisposition to consider him as the half-divine creature as she views Katherine.However, I still have the novel 3 stars for the strong beginning and the details of life as a servant in a royal household.I’m still debating upon whether to read the sequel which will come out later this year. Perhaps I will, if nothing else to read more of her portrayal of Henry and to see how/if Hickson fleshes out Owen Tudor into a real character/person.

  • Jennifer
    2018-10-20 20:39

    I enjoyed this novel based upon the earlier years of the life of Catherine of Valois. Through the eyes of her wet nurse and later confidante, Mette, we are with Catherine from birth and through the turbulent years of her adolescence. Only towards the end of this novel does she become the Queen of Henry V and therefore this is truly a novel where Catherine herself is the focus, and not just her position as wife of Henry V and mother to Henry VI. The reader is able to formulate an idea of who Catherine is as a person and not just as a Queen. I thought the author did a wonderful job of bringing her to life and making her a living, breathing human being and not just a two-dimensional Queen from long ago.I believe the reason this was accomplished so well was because of Mette and how she narrates the story. Choosing to have a narrator is very risky as so many novels fall flat on their face from the lifeless way the story is subsequently told. I did not find that to be the case in this novel. Not only is Mette central to the events surrounding Catherine, she also has her own story to tell. Her marriage, her children, and the things that happen to them along the way are all seen and felt by the reader alongside Mette. Therefore this allows her character to be more than just a narrator. She is not just recording events in a book, she is painting a picture for us as the reader and breathing life back into all that has transpired. It was very well-written.

  • Orsolya
    2018-11-11 20:34

    Although the Tudor dynasty is oft accredited to Henry VII’s success at the Battle of Bosworth; the Tudor line matriarch is arguable Catherine of Valois. However, before her marriages to Owen Tudor and King Henry V of England; Catherine already led a life of intense intrigue. Joanna Hickson narrates Catherine’s youth in, “The Agincourt Bride”.Without a doubt, “The Agincourt Bride” suffers from stylistic issues and a slow beginning. Being narrated by “Mette”, Catherine’s nurse maid; “The Agincourt Bride” is told in a reflective voice which results in a story being passive rather than ‘lived’. This means that the pages lack true action and instead include too much talking in an, “As you know Bob”- style. To say the least, this makes for a rather boring novel which does nothing to sweep the reader away. Also indicative of the weaknesses of “The Agincourt Bride” is its blatant shallow depths. The story is thin and flat reading more like a bare skeleton which Hickson has not properly fleshed out. The attempt at ‘more’ is evident as “The Agincourt Bride” is not fluffy per se; but perhaps Hickson held back or did not know how to follow through. This also pertains to the characterizations as none experience any growth arcs, none stand out, and all are too reserved making them quite bland. The biggest disappointment is that readers do not get to truly ‘know’ Catherine or her actions as, again, the story is more of a reflection.Hickson’s prose is light making “The Agincourt Bride” easy-to-read and quick despite its long page count. However, this is not necessarily a positive trait. Plus, the language is much too modern and lacks historical accuracy making the novel more ideal for YA readers or those new to HF and not wanting to be overwhelmed by context and facts. At approximately the 200 page mark, “The Agincourt Bride” becomes strikingly stronger with more complexity and raw situations which increases the pace and results in more page-turning. Sadly, even here there is a consistency issue as the pages bounce between this new-found strength and the errors of the former pages. Unfortunately, this arousal is fleeting as “The Agincourt Bride” takes a tumble and returns to a thinner consistency. The story becomes repetitive while the events that are supposed to evoke emotions fall flat. Literally, devices such as the inclusion of letters (fictional without historical merit); fail to add to the novel and instead make Hickson’s effort feel elementary, forced, and dragged out. The concluding chapters of “The Agincourt Bride” are painfully slow and somewhat meaningless. The introduction of Owen Tudor is too fairy tale-esque (foreshadowing at its height) while the ending is somewhat weak and abrupt. On the other hand, it is a good-enough set up for the follow-up novel. Sadly, Hickson does not fortify the novel with a note describing her historical liberties which would be helpful to those new to the subject because much of the plot is contrived. The text also includes some punctuation and grammar errors (at least the edition I read). Overall, “The Agincourt Bride” is certainly not the strongest HF novel and has many flaws and weaknesses. Yet, Hickson does attempt to focus more on politics than romance which adds some merit. Also notable is the fact that at least Catherine of Valois is depicted from a French view point of a strong and beautiful female versus the HF novels from an English view of a flippant, spoiled girl. It is interesting to see a different characterization. Although “The Agincourt Bride” isn’t amazing, will even bore at times, and doesn’t truly ‘teach’ anything; it is recommended if looking for light entertainment and for a focus on Catherine which is not readily available (which is exactly why I plan to read the second novel). Otherwise, it can be skipped.

  • Josephine Robin
    2018-11-02 17:20

    I loved this. Indeed, I found myself completely enthralled and caught up in the politics, intrigue and magic of the French Court and Henry V of England. Joanna Hickson is one of those rare story tellers that weaves a kind of magic with the English Language so that you feel as if you have been transported to another time and place.The story is told in first person by Catherine's nurse. At first I thought this literary device would become annoying. However, I soon found myself completely caught up in personalities and events.The detail of life in 15th century England was remarkable and so well done. Clearly a lot of research has gone into this book. However, the research didn't get in the way of telling a good story and instead enhanced and delineated the time and place.Fans of Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon Kay Penman will enjoy this book, as will all readers of historical fiction. I am so looking forward to the sequel, The Tudor Bride, coming out later this year.

  • Marita
    2018-11-13 20:24

    This book was a disappointment. Catherine is first described as the most perfect and adorable baby, and then she turns into blonde, blue-eyed (in fact doe eyed!) perfection with, of course, a dazzling smile and a wonderful personality. Just too sugary sweet and perfect for my taste.(view spoiler)[I also have an issue with the rape. A princess was a very valuable commodity at the time, to be married off to whichever suitor was most powerful, rich, etc. to provide strong alliances. Whilst I understand that the children in the dysfunctional family of the mad king were neglected, I don't think that a princess of marriageable age with marriage prospects such as the King of England would be placed in a position where she could become damaged goods. Even if the proposed marriage deal had fallen through, she would still be a valuable pawn for other alliances, etc. (hide spoiler)]Although I have purchased the next book in the series, I'm not sure that I'll actually read it.

  • Elia Princess of Starfall
    2018-11-01 20:26

    Before I truly destroy... errr review this novel, does anyone else see the rather blatant similarity between the cover of the Agincourt Bride and the Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien? I mean it looks like they used the exact same model, in the exact same dress, the exact same hair style and then just took two different shots... Oy vey, there must have been some serious cutbacks in the book cover department!Yeah I was not.... greatly impressed by the Agincourt Bride or by its author Joanna Hickson. Feel free to consider the guitar as symbol for the Agincourt Bride and its subsequent treatment my overall reaction to the novel. This review isn't going to be pretty! Onwards! Firstly, the good things about the Agincourt Bride. The historical setting was reasonably accurate though vague in places. Its portrait of medieval France was overall decent if somewhat skewed in certain aspects i.e relationships between masters and servants are heavily idealised. It was politics, not romance that held superior sway throughout the novel and this I greatly appreciated; one of the novels finer features. The writing was smooth, flowed well and made for a fast pace. I speed read through this quite quickly and with few difficulties. Nothing was made over complicated and a couple of scenes were mildly interesting. There was a plot and although slow moving at times the various dates and place names kept everything in perspective. Now...ATTENTION! ACTUNG! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! DONT READ AHEAD IF YOU DONT WANT TO KNOW!(view spoiler)[Let us start at the beginning: The Agincourt Bride is the story of Catherine of Valois, daughter to the original mad king Charles VI of France and his beautiful but neglectful wife Isabeau of Bavaria, and covers her life from birth in 1401 to her marriage to the King of England and victor of Agincourt, Henry V, in 1420. All of this is told through the eyes Gulliamette Laniere, Catherine's surrogate mother and wet nurse who stays by Catherine's side throughout the years and in many difficult trails and hardships. Written in the first person and past tense, spliced sporadically with letters by Catherine to her beloved brother, the future Charles VII, the Agincourt Bride often forgets the key advice of "Show, don't Tell" and the novel suffers dramatically for it. Frankly I didn't like this novel. To me it was melodramatic, sensationalised and trivialised the incredibly delicate topic of rape, passing it off as a way to gain sympathy points for the heroines while completely neglecting its emotional and mental aftereffects. It was utilised purely as a shock tactic. Characterisation leaned heavily towards black/white morality and good/evil tropes with very little room for ambiguity. Clichés, modern speech (Mette, at one point, says "did my homework", I cant even to say how wrong this is...) and idealised master-servant relationships abounded throughout this novel, giving it a very insipid and juvenile approach, almost YA as a matter of fact. This detracted from the novels overall credibility and made it difficult to enjoy. Now to the use of rape as a shock tactic. Why should I even have to say this? Rape is one of the most serious and despicable crimes that anyone can commit. Its based on power, control and violence and is primarily focused on achieving dominance over the victim and subjecting them to intense trauma and humiliation. It should in no way be used lightly or as a cheap trick to gain sympathy points for the heroine or just to show how violent and misogynistic the Middle Ages were in general. Both Mette and Catherine are raped brutally, (Mette by two nameless, faceless thugs and Catherine by the Duke of Burgundy) and suffer great physical pain. I'm in no way saying that rape didn't occur throughout in the Middle Ages; this was a violent, misogynistic and patriarchal society that turned women into second class citizens and of course sexual violence was rampant. No what I object to hear is how easily forgotten and minimalized their rapes are for both characters. Mette's rape is particularly savage and yet despite the physical anguish she endures and has to overcome, her emotional and mental trauma is completely overlooked and disregarded! After not becoming pregnant, she continues on as before with no recognisable changes; the Mette before the rape and after have utterly no differences. In fact if you were to have read the book and have skipped the pages detailing the rape and the very odd time it is mentioned for plot purposes, YOU WOULDNT HAVE NOTICED ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT METTE. She was raped? I highly doubt that would have been in any way clear. There is nothing to highlight the emotional or mental trauma that rape victims have to endure and shattering impact that it can have on their lives. There is something profoundly ignorant about such a portrayal of rape. Its happens and that's it? The heroine has no conscious or subconscious reactions to such a horrifying ordeal? There isn't any indication of their suffering or how they might feel about themselves or men afterwards? Passing over the aftermath of rape and having your heroine suffer it as a shock tactic is deeply offensive. If you cant handle rape with sensitivity and in a truthful manner, then please don't do it. Catherine suffers rape at the hands of Jean the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. I wont go into detail about how, as an unmarried French Princess and incredibly valuable marriage pawn, Catherine's virginity would have been vigorously guarded from birth as a guarantee for her future husband and to ensure the paternity of her offspring. Unmarried Princesses were always chaperoned and not allowed to enter into such dangerous situations. To me, Catherine's rape boiled down to three things; 1. To greatly increase our sympathy of Catherine and to highlight her powerlessness. (Common feature for Mary-Sues)2. To show how evil and depraved the devil Duke of Burgundy is3. Shock value Prior to her rape, Catherine is sexually molested by the Duke without anybody knowing besides Mette and her lady in waiting Agnes. Her mother does nothing to defend and the Duke takes malicious pleasure in such cruelty. Let me be frank, there is no evidence whatsoever that such an episode in Catherine's life ever occurred or that the Duke of Burgundy was a rapist. This is very much fictionalised and used to highlight poor suffering Catherine. To claim that a titled Duke walked repeatedly into Catherine's chamber without anyone knowing and that she was for long stretches of time left without female chaperones is ludicrous. Again virginity was essential for a brides purity and marriageability for her to be considered as a possible wife to the King (if she wasn't a widow). For the Duke of Burgundy to actually do such a thing would be politically disastrous and he would quite likely to have been arrested and hanged for such an offence against the royal family! Since we don't see Catherine's perspective, we only have Mette's word on how she has suffered. It handled somewhat than Mette's but not by much; her reactions are still for the most part non-reactions. Lets say you break both your legs in an accident. There's no way you can get up five minutes later and walk around normally as if nothing happened. There are going to be consequences and certain things will change even you don't want them to. When awful, cruel and sadistic acts are inflicted on people, their emotional reactions and interactions with fellow people will alter and transform into something different. Rape is no exception. Go to any rape crisis network to see how people are impacted and how they change as a result. Character-wise this book was very weak and had a certain YA feel. Characters are classed as either good or bad with no grey morality to be found. Everyone's a saint or a demon. And it gets old fast!Catherine from her very birth is shown to be the most perfect, adorable and perky blue-eyed and golden haired baby ever to have existed and OMG she is so sweet and precious that I half expected her to turn whatever she touched into refined sugar and for angels to burst out into song whenever she happened to grace the world with her glorious presence. I can (sort of) understand Mette's idealism of her but frankly it becomes too much at times especially when, as a four year, she attacks the Duke of Burgundy with no hesitation and with tiny closed fists of fury. I had half a mind to recommend that she apply for the Avengers Initiative. I did a double take upon reading that scene. I occasionally mind a three year old and I can with all certainty that the chances of such a ridiculous scene ever happening in real life are zero. Toddlers cry, run away and go to people they trust and know; they don't suddenly turn into Jack-Jack from the Incredibles! And still Catherine's sanctification continues, like a runaway train on cocaine. For instance, even when she and Mette are separated by ten years they pick up their old relationship with no trouble and are the bestest of best friends like that! I don't need to explain how after a ten year gap no relationship can be the same and to suggest otherwise is not keeping with real life. Catherine has no visible flaws; Mette harps about her beauty, goodness and piousness. Her molestation and rape by the Duke of Burgundy are used to gain sympathy for poor Catherine and little more. Since we only see Catherine through Mette's besotted eyes she remains a distant and ill-defined character. Even her letters to Mette and her brother fall somewhat flat. Also for the life of me, I cant see why Catherine has such a strong attachment to her brother; they were together till they were three and four and didn't reunite fro ten years and then only for very rare occasions. Huh?Mette's primary purpose is a surrogate mother to Catherine and this makes her a very biased narrator. It becomes clear that Catherine is the center of her life and nothing will ever interfere with that. Mette has a husband and children? They always take second place to Catherine and her woes. Her children only enter the plot when its convenient and related to Catherine. Her husband dies? Mette thinks so little of Jean-Michel and even his grisly death leaves her and the reader unmoved. Honestly Mette's devotion to Catherine reminds at times of Harley-Quinn and the Joker. Their world revolves their obsession and nothing else. I wonder what Mette did for that ten year gap where she and Catherine were not joined to the hip? maybes there was a shrine to Catherine in her old house somewhere.... Her relationship with Catherine is heavily idealised and she regularly takes Catherine out to the streets of France disguised as a maid. A Princess of France. Walking around. As a Maid. Oh and Catherine often waltzes to the family to eat breakfast or to become godmother to Mette's peasant granddaughter.Do I even need to explain how stupid this is?!Without a doubt the Duke of Burgundy is portrayed as the devil incarnate, a vicious, ambitious and vindictive rapist and the bane of saint Catherine of Valois. His character was over the top evil and a bloody caricature. There's no historical evidence for what happened in this book between him and Catherine. Honestly this book felt like the Duke of Burgundy's job application for the position of Satan in hell! Would a titled and politically savvy Duke really have committed such an act which would have utterly ruined his career and reputation? Queen Isabeau also received a bum rap. Hickson turns her into a promiscuous, power-hungry and neglectful woman who fails to protect Catherine. This isn't the first time Isabeau been portrayed in such a way but it certainly is disheartening. She serves purely as a foil to wonderful, always kind and caring Mette.Oh and the introduction of Owen Tudor is a foreshadowing 101 overkill. Ugh. Just ugh. Personally I wouldn't recommend this. Overall melodramatic, chocked full of clichés and tropes and suffering from a weird mix of idealised and demonic relationships, the Agincourt Bride is a very disappointing read. 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  • Audrey
    2018-10-27 22:32

    I had high hopes for this book when I first saw it and was looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately it was a big let down. The book was very shallow and relied totally on the serving maid narrator. Sometimes, a narrator can be a really helpful device in a book, but it always takes away from the immediacy and action in the book. In some stories that does not matter, in this book it did. The effect of the Narrator in this book was jarring and false and and the book lost all excitement, immediacy and tension. The book was slow and to be honest boring, because if the way it was written. I had no sense of Catherine de Valois as a person, she came across as a cipher. I have to say, I was very disappointed by the book and how it was written. Sometimes the use if a Narrator like this is a lazy device to use in a book and it was here. The book would have been so much better, more tense, interesting and immediate, if it had been written from the point of view of the main and not just the serving maid. You only have to read at the really good history fiction by someone like "Sharon Kay Penman" to see what I mean about immediacy, excitement and tension and see how this is developed using all the main characters point of view. When you read one of Sharon's Kay Penman's books you are there in the moment, the taste the smell, the immediacy, the excitement, the tension, you feel it all, in this book you do not. To write a book from all the main characters point of view is much more work for the author but more often, it is much more enjoyable reading experience for the reader. This book was written the lazy and easy way and it shows. I cannot believe this is going to be a series, I won't be reading any more sadly.

  • Erin
    2018-10-26 17:17

    Her beauty fuelled a war.Her courage captured a king.Her passion would launch the Tudor dynasty."- Tagline from the novel coverThe Agincourt Bride is part one in the story of Catherine of Valois, French princess and the eventual English Queen. The story is narrated by Guilliamette Laniere, who becomes the wet nurse of the infant princess and eventually the princess' most able and willing confidant in her teenage and adulthood years. The book ends perfectly with Catherine, now the wife of King Henry V and her faithful, Mette. heading for England. The Agincourt Bride is rich in historical detail and a captivating narrative that had me turning the pages. I had recently read another book about Catherine( Crown in Candlelight BUT I felt that " AB" was far superior because I felt that I actually had a better impression of the woman that was Catherine of Valois. Definitely an extraordinary piece of historical fiction. Looking forward to the sequel!

  • Leslie
    2018-10-23 23:22

    One of the most interesting things about historical fiction revolving around royalty is the paradox they present. On the one hand, you read about such wealth and power that clearly marks them on a completely different social sphere. And yet, behind the all the opulence you get a wide spectrum of people who are either driven at all costs to achieve/maintain their status or are essentially pawns for said people to use and barter for their own gain. I think this idea was really illustrated well in The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson. Within the story of Catherine of Valois and her rise to status of queen, you get the story of a young woman who survived a lonely childhood, unstable family and a dangerous court.I thought Hickson did a good job of bringing 15th century France to life. I appreciated the details, both large and small, that were in the story. You really got a sense of what life was like during that time both for the lower class and for royalty. It clearly illustrated the huge chasm between these two groups. You couldn’t help but sympathize and perhaps even relate to the peasants with their struggles and how they were affected with the battles occurring. While on the royal side, you are in awe of their lifestyle but it also makes you a little disgusted at the (oftentimes) unnecessary extravagance. Furthermore, this chasm also exists between the genders. Throughout the story, you are often presented with all the different ways that women are confined to a certain role which is prevalent in all social classes. It’s this restriction that just underscores what Catherine, and her closest confidante Mette, had to go through and makes them sympathetic figures.At the heart of it, this book is about a young woman growing up in a world where she essentially isn’t in charge of her life and is at the mercy of the whims of others. Catherine may be a princess, but it’s not hard to see the vulnerable girl behind the title. It’s most prominently illustrated in her relationship with Mette. With them you have that mother/daughter relationship which enable us to see Catherine as a strong young royal who isn’t easily intimidated but also an unsure 18 year old questioning her abilities to perform the role she was born to. Through Mette, you get to see all her hopes, fears, and frustrations. It lends a human quality to this historical figure.Overall, I thought this book was a well-written historical fiction (give or take a few questionable overdramatic moments). This is a read where you had to be patient with the beginning, after which, your patience will be rewarded. The rest of the book was filled with not only the usual political machinations, but there was also a good deal of drama and suspense. The story had my attention and made me interested to see how the story would unfold.

  • Linda
    2018-10-18 22:23

    Other reviewers have told the story of this book much better than I could ever hope to do, so I shall tell you things personal to me. First, if this was the author's first book, then she has done a tremendous job. Is it beginner's luck? We shall see in the next novel about King Henry V and his Agincourt bride, Catherine. The author balanced the competing forces in this book into a very good story. Catherine's brother Charles, the rightful heir to the French throne, is exiled because his own parents and Catherine have sided with Henry V. The French king did so through insanity. Catherine did so out of duty, while knowing she was a pawn tossed about to the highest bidder. She knew that she could use her influence and power better with the French and English courts for the good of both countries married to King Henry. The French Queen did so because she reckoned her chances of keeping her influence and power better with Henry rather than with her own son. This is a queen who literally does not recognize her own children which seems far fetched to me, but I am not the Queen of France living in the time of the Hundred Years War. Much of the narrative centered around the wet nurse, Mette, who loved and cared for Catherine and Charles more than she did for her own children. Because Mette figured into every aspect of Catherine's life, I elevated her too much. She was, after all, a fictional character, albeit one with all the good qualities I could ever hope to possess. I had met King Henry in AGINCOURT by Bernard Cornwell. I liked him there, and I liked him here. Catherine's brother, Louis, did not factor into the balance much at all because of his early demise due to either obesity, too much wine, or poison. Pick one or all three. However, he was the most interesting character in the parade due to his obesity, love of wine, or poison. Again, pick one or all three. The author's desciptions of his grabbing the sweets rang true much too close to home and made me hungry. The Duke of Burgundy was a vile and evil man who was a major player for whom I felt nothing but reprehension.To me, a simple reader, this book is an exceptional read. The author's writing mechanics were excellent. I can picture her in the role of Mette which may account for the balance I mentioned above. Most historical fiction writers that I read include a note, an apology of sorts, telling the reader what is fact and what is fiction. The author did not leave an adequate note in my copy of the book, so I spent a lot of time in Wikipedia while reading the book and can say that history and fiction meshed quite well.Thank you, Ms. Hickson, for a Good Read.This book was free or specially priced from Amazon.

  • Robin
    2018-11-07 22:12

    3.5 starshttp://historicalreadings.blogspot.co...The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson is more of what The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien should have been. Both novels are about Catherine of Valois but Agincourt Bride is a more multidimensional story of politics and court intrigue told from a woman’s point of view with better developed characters, whereas Forbidden Queen is a flat, one-track romance with a whiny, annoying main character. In Agincourt Bride, we get to see many of the characters develop, whereas in Forbidden Queen, we really only see Catherine and her love interests develop and even that is very one dimensional. However, Agincourt Bride is not without its flaws as well.It tells Catherine’s story from the first person point of view of her nursemaid (and later, Keeper of the Robe), Mette. This winds up being a little limiting in terms of telling the whole story when letters written by Catherine to her brother are inserted in order to give us glimpses into her side of the story. The letters just felt too deliberately planted and are a testament to the drawbacks of writing in first person. Additionally, perhaps because we are seeing all the characters through Mette’s eyes, Catherine is portrayed as saintly while practically everyone else in the story is mean-spirited or even evil. Even some of the protagonists, like Catherine’s brother Charles, are not portrayed in the most favorable light. It seems only Mette and Catherine’s loyal friend from the convent, Agnes, (and later, Mette’s daughter) are goodhearted people who care for Catherine or treat her with any kind of respect. And yet despite this, we don’t really get to know Agnes very well. Despite she and Mette being Catherine’s most trusted friends and supporters and therefore constantly being around one another, they don’t really have any kind of relationship. That’s not to say they dislike each other, just that the only mention Mette makes of what she thinks or feels about Agnes is when she first meets her and decides that anyone devoted to Catherine is alright by her. To the reader, Agnes winds up feeling like a tacked on character who exists purely because the story occasionally needed another character who had Catherine’s best interests at heart.Regardless, the overall story is still enjoyable and certainly had it’s strengths. In history, Catherine of Valois was a powerless pawn in the complicated politics of the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of the Roses. Particularly in her time before and during her marriage to Henry, she didn’t really do anything significant except give birth to the next King of England. Therefore, she was always going to be a difficult subject to write about, particularly when it comes to her early life, while still making her story interesting and her character likable, yet Hickson pulls it off. We are shown a woman who faces her fate bravely and wisely, even if she’s had no say in what direction her life will take. Hickson manages to create nearly an entire book out of Catherine’s life before she even married Henry V. While I’m not sure how much of the more intimate details are accurate (I’m certain some liberties were taken), it shows the turmoil that France was in at the time and how Catherine was caught up in it, something Forbidden Queen was seriously lacking. We get to see all of Catherine’s siblings develop and here was where Mette’s point of view was very beneficial, because we got to know Catherine’s siblings as children, when Catherine was too young to really know them, and again later as adults. Catherine’s mother plays a strong side role and we also occasionally see her mentally ill father. Burgundy plays a large role as the antagonist, with much of the politics centering around him. Henry is only really prominent in the last quarter of the novel but he was among the more complex characters.So the story had its strengths and weaknesses but if you’re looking for a novel about Catherine of Valois, this (and likely its sequel, The Tudor Bride, due out in the U.S. March 2015 and already available in the U.K.) is definitely the better choice than The Forbidden Queen. I will likely read the sequel because I’m curious what the author will make of it. If she can make Catherine’s life before marriage this eventful, I definitely want to see what she can do with the latter portion of Catherine’s life.

  • Lucinda
    2018-11-15 15:42

    A sumptuous, richly evocative read that captures such impacting times…This beautiful book is simply exquisite, with its gorgeous shining cover and fascinating detail on Tudor England. As an avid reader of novels by the outstanding Philippa Gregory and other historical writers like Barbara Erskine, I was incredibly excited upon encountering this sensational debut. Joanna Hickson’s writing ensnares the senses, as you instantly gain a truly realistic sense of the period and turbulent times. Richly detailed and eloquent this story is something that I found to be greatly impacting, and which I certainly won’t be forgetting! “The Agincourt Bride” is about Catherine de Valois, who was the wife of Henry V and the Queen who founded the great Tudor dynasty. Unexpectedly this significant story is told through the eyes of Catherine’s nursemaid and confidante, Mette, and so makes for intriguing reading. Character-driven and colorful, I was most impressed by an intensely gripping tale of multi-layered depth. Stunningly beautiful, fiery passion and as courageous as any man Catherine is a true heroine to admire; with this being a fitting tribute celebrating one strong female who helped to change the course of the future. ‘It is written in the stars that I and my heirs shall rule France and yours shall rule England. Our nations shall never live in peace. You and Henry have done this.’- Charles, Dauphin of France.Assured and accurate, I do not think you could find a more compelling novel which contains such devoted passion and enthusiasm by an accomplished author. I was entranced by such deeply beguiling prose and thrilling storytelling that had me glued to my seat, lost within a time of power and heated ambition. (4.5 stars)*I won an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Joanna Hickson’s ‘The Agincourt Bride’ through a Goodreads, first-read giveaway.*

  • Lesley
    2018-11-05 23:20

    Her beauty fuelled a war. Her courage captured a king. Her passion would launch the tudor dystancy.The Agincourt bride is the story that follows the life of Catherine of Valois (consort of Henry V) through the point of view of her dear nurse Mette. This book shines a different light on Mette because she is briefly included in shakespeare history of Henry V. The story evolves around the neglect at birth from her mother, who Mette just after losing her first born is sent to tend her; creating a bound between the pair. Witnessing the disgusting treatment and torment towards the other royal children by their governess Mette partially raises the children (Even though its speculated in history.) The story also included King Charles who was mentally ill and believed he was made of glass, so was therefore unfit to rule-the same mental condition as his grandson Henry VI schizophrenia I believe it to be.) The story then follows on how Catherine was dangled before king Henry as a pawn of France from the age of 13, also including the so-called "heroine" the duke of Burgundy, who bullied Catherine, as well as her spiteful mother. You also see the insight of Mette life and her struggle to stay by Catherine side even if it meant risking her own.Hickerson basically evolved around loyalty, betrayal, treachery and heart break.

  • Alison Campbell
    2018-11-17 20:16

    The Agincourt Bride is a well crafted historical novel, based on the French Princess, Catherine de Valois, who was later to marry Henry V.The story is told through the eyes of Mette a young French girl, who due to the sad loss of her own baby, was hired by the palace to be Catherine's wet nurse.Over the course of the story Mette becomes a much loved mother figure to Catherine, and a trusted, loyal confidant and friend, who in later years, supported Catherine through the cold, chaotic royal household,as Catherine was used as a trophy between the two powerful nations, England and France.A thoroughly, enjoyable historical page turner,that's left me looking forward to the sequel, The Tudor Bride.

  • Nicole Yovanoff
    2018-10-22 22:28

    I bought this book because it was in the reduced bin for $2. I was skeptical of it being a good read because the cover looked like a romance novel and the tag of “Her beauty fuelled a war. Her courage captured a king” added to that skepticism. Glad to say I poorly judged the book by its cover.It was a really good reads with little to no romance. Very strong female characters trapped in a world where women had little to no value. I enjoyed how the reader wrote from the perspective of a close servant than the royal and how they were just pawns in a high-stakes geopolitical game.Great buy and plan to pick up the sequel.

  • Kate
    2018-11-01 22:17

    I loved The Agincourt Bride! Beautifully written with such a lightness and humanity about it, it's impossible not to care about our courageous, spirited heroine Catherine of Valois and our narrator, Catherine's loyal nursemaid Mette. Henry V is one of my favourite figures from history and when he appears in these pages, as Catherine's bridegroom, he comes alive. Before that point, though, Catherine and Mette have a host of trials to endure, not least at the hands of Catherine's mother, brothers and the despicable Duke of Burgundy. Historical fiction at its best and I've had a wonderful two days in its company.

  • Georgiana Romanovna
    2018-11-10 16:16

    I really thought this book would be a good read, and in part it was. However, I found that although the character Mette was well filled out, the other main characters I found seriously wanting. To me, it also seemed as if the book stopped without a fulfilling end, but regardless, I believe the Author did a reasonable work and this book would not put me off from reading her other novels.

  • Carole P. Roman
    2018-10-30 20:33

    Great historical fiction about Catherine of Valois, mother to the Tudor line. Joanna Hickson creates credible characters based on what is known about the Valois princess and Henry V. Told though the point of view of a devoted wet nurse, it's a well written account of life in the 15th century. Filled with villains, scoundrels, and saints, it has all the ingredients for royal historical drama.

  • Marcia Pastorek
    2018-11-04 23:27

    Loved this book. The way the story evolves and the writing keep you interested from beginning to end. Although I am familiar with that historical period, this story of Catherine of Valois told through her nursemaid is new and fresh.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-02 20:36

    Agincourt Bride is definitely a dense read and one to be savored. It brings to life so many aspects of the world it's set in and just leaves the reader contemplating the words long after finishing.This book wins a prize for transporting its readers right smack dab into the early 1400's and the Hundred Years War. From the mean streets of Paris to the pastoral agriculture of the Champagne region, Joanna Hickson knows how to weave historical details into a narrative so that it doesn't overfill the palate and yet we get a real sense of the times. There are a few times where I could say I felt like too many setting-the-scene elements were thrown into one paragraph and not interwoven with the rest of the story. But they are very few. I would compare this author's world building chops with greats like Elizabeth Chadwick and Kate Quinn, she's that good.I felt that it was truly inspired to tell the story mainly from the POV of Catherine's nurse/Keeper of the Robe, Mette. We got a very intimate look into the life of France's royal family without really being a part of it. We also got to see through Mette's eyes the way of life for the everyday folk of the medieval world: a common baker's daughter, a servant in the royal household, a royal Houndsman or Groom, a seamstress, and a common tailor. Seeing the grand events of the Hundred Years War and the great battle of Agincourt through these common eyes brought new dimensions to them for me.I also liked how the author interwove throughout the story letters Catherine wrote to various individuals, most never delivered, that gave us a glimpse into the mind of a noblewoman caught in various political webs and in truly trying circumstances. Seeing the two sides of the story through these truly different women with very differing ways of seeing the world just made the story more well developed for me and more well rounded. Definitely don't read this book if brutal details squick you. The author doesn't shy away from the harshness of the times, especially the lot of women and the lack of power they had over their bodies and fates. War details are talked about and shown. Rape and sexual details are discussed and occur front and center to some of our characters. But I have to give the author credit for not shying away from these brutal details. They brought some realism to the times and really brought home how lucky we are to live in the modern world.The one gripe I had about this book was how it first introduce and wrote Catherine's personality and how she was viewed by those around her. She seemed a little too perfect for me, the perfect little princess. She's described as angelic, compassionate, willing to listen to those below her, clever in maneuvering against her enemies, and forgiving. It seemed like she had absolutely no flaws at all and that sort of characterization made me roll my eyes more than once at her. Later in the story once her trials really got flowing and she matured a little, I started to see some three-dimensionalization of her character which I enjoyed. But seeing her throw a couple temper tantrums or something like that earlier in the story might have shown a little more to character overall.Overall, this book is definitely one for the enjoyment pile. It's got some really dense historical detail and story I enjoyed to the hilt. The characters, for the most part, were three dimensional and overcame some serious pain and issues. I loved seeing this part of history and the medieval world explored so thoroughly. I see that a sequel is due out fairly shortly; it's already on my to read list. I look forward to its release with breathless anticipation of visiting Mette and her Queen again.

  • Victoria Ellis
    2018-10-18 21:14

    'It was a magnificent birth'I recieved this book free from a Goodreads giveaway. The Agincourt Bride tells the story of Catherine de Valois from the point of view of Mette, her maid. There may be spoilers ahead!The CoverAlthough I'm not usually a fan of photos of people on covers I didn't mind this one mainly because she's so pretty and regal. I love the gold leaves in the top left corner, the sides and the back cover. The title is also written in the same gold which does make it stand out from the photo.The PagesThe copy that I have, courtesy of Goodreads giveaways, is 559 pages long, which for me is quite long but the plot does not make it seem so. I'm not saying the story is full of twists and turns but it is interesting. Within the first seven pages of my copy Mette's baby dies during childbirth with is always heartbreaking, and does make you sympathies with her. Then, maybe because she is the narrator, because she loves Catherine, you do too. Not just Catherine but all of the children she's around at the beginning of the novel. There are plenty of heart wrenching parts, i.e. when Jean-Michael is officially dead (I was hoping that he would reappear at some point)or when Alys nearly dies during childbirth.Every character, even the minor ones, are well written and believable. I don't know how accurate the story is in comparison to the real Catherine de Valois' life but it's pretty believable. The only negative thing is that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, with Catherine, Mette and the English leaving France for England, so now I have to get hold of the next book!'Traitor'

  • Jo Barton
    2018-10-18 22:18

    This is an interesting and informative look at the supposed early life of Catherine de Valois. Much of the story is narrated by Guillaumette, who becomes the official wet nurse to Catherine when she is abandoned as a baby by her decadent and licentious mother, Isabeau. The story of 15th century life at the French court is beautifully depicted and the fragile and tenuous grip that the royal children had on their own destiny makes for fascinating reading.Catherine and Guillaumette's relationship is portrayed as one of mother and daughter, and yet the cord which binds them together never loses sight of the fact that Catherine is of royal birth, and as such her fate is very much dictated by whoever happens to be in political power. The scheming court of the Valois, from the debauched world of Isabeau , and her haphazard methods of motherhood, through to the sad and sorry sight of Catherine's father King Charles VI, who is mad to the point of insanity, is portrayed as hot bed of political intrigue. The emotional bond between Catherine and Guillaumette is nicely done and leads the story from Catherine's babyhood, through to her early adolescence when she is on the cusp of her relationship with the English King, Henry V. The book comes in at a hefty 578 pages, which I think could have been condensed a little, but having said that, the story kept my attention throughout and I am intrigued by the ending of the book which lends itself very nicely to a continuation of Catherine's story in the follow-on book, The Tudor Bride which is due to be published sometime in 2014.

  • Patty Mccormick
    2018-11-07 18:26

    This book is the story of princess Catherine de Valois. She is the daughter of King Charles VI of France and Queen Isabeau of Bavaria. Mette becomes a wet-nurse for princess Catherine. With a mad father as a king and a demanding and manipulating, cold mother, Catherine turns to Mette for love and companionship. Mette tells us the tale of Catherine’s marriage to Henry V and her transformation into the Queen of England. The road to queen and happiness is rocky and treacherous. Who can she trust? The villainous and evil Duke of Burgundy uses and abuses her. Her own brother, Charles the Dauphin, with whom she was once close to says Catherine is a traitor at the end of the book.This book is the type of historical fiction that I enjoy. It is full of deception and intrigue. There were wonderful descriptions of Catherine’s gowns. This is not a romantic story at all, if you are looking for romance this is not for you. The novel weaves together fiction and history well.I have not decided if I like the new book covers with models dressed as historical figures. The period clothes are beautiful, but this model has a very haunting look. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I definitely liked it, but there was nothing unique or outstanding about it. Even so, I will of course purchase the next book.The Tudor Bride is the next book in the series to be released in January of 2014. It will pick up where The Agincourt Bride ended.

  • Karen
    2018-11-14 23:40

    I really do not like giving books less than 3 stars. I especially do not like it when I was so looking forward to reading the book. Catherine of Valois fascinates me and I wish there was more written about her (fiction and non-fiction). The chance to read an (I believe) two part series exploring her life in depth? Fabulous. I went into the book with high expectations but was disappointed as ultimately this novel is not epic enough to sustain interest over its relatively long length. The characterisation was basic, sometimes stereotypical, and there was not enough character development. There were many horrific incidents in the novel - sieges, assaults, executions etc - but they failed to stir the emotions in me that they should have done. The book became a struggle to finish rather than a pleasure to read, due in part to its length. The novel could have been shorter by at least a third.I can see from looking at the other reviews that other people have really enjoyed this book. I wish I could have enjoyed it better.

  • Eva
    2018-10-22 22:15

    This is the story of the childhood and young life of Catherine de Valois(1401-37), daughter of King Charles VI of France and wife to Henry V of England. Catherine was the mother of Henry VI of England, and through her secret marriage with Owen Tudor, the grandmother of Henry VII, establishing her as the Queen who founded the Tudor dynasty.Engrossing narrative, well written and from a most unusual perspective. We are brought into the world of "Mette", a poor baker's daughter who loses her first born son and brought to the palace as wet nurse to the infant Catherine. Following the twists and turns, betrayals and grasps for the throne of France and how this affects both Mette and her beloved Princess Catherine. Hickson does not soften the violence of the era (and this part was the most difficult for me personally). A historical novel that captures your heart, creates fully formed characters that you can love and hate. Highly recommend and look forward to more from this author.

  • Robyn
    2018-11-01 18:24

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, so I was quite excited to start reading it as soon as I got it, even though I find historical fiction in general to be fairly hit and miss. However, that was not the case with The Agincourt Bride. I found that the perspective of the book, told from the point of view of a 'servant', was completely refreshing. I felt that it gave the book a more honest point of view, and enjoyed reading about how the whole situation would be viewed from the perspective of a 'normal' person. The language used in the novel was brilliant, and it made it feel like you could see the Palace or the other locations in the book. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Agincourt Bride and I look forward to discovering more of Hickson's work in the future.

  • Michael Stolle
    2018-10-30 17:35

    The book started a bit slow but managed to engage my attention more and more as the story unfolded. I love the rich historical background, it has been extremely well researched and the author's knowledge of the daily life at court and fashion is impressive. The old nurse's personality and her story is not always credible but Catherine de Valois and the Valois court really come alive in this story! I'm a bit skeptical that the Duke of Burgundy should have dared to violate the princess - but clearly Catherine had become a pawn in this political game and she must have been at the mercy of either her mother or her 'protectors'I can recommend this book and I bought already the sequel!

  • Suzanne Reed
    2018-10-22 15:19

    Historical fact or fiction?This story of Catherine of Valois and Henry V is very well written. I enjoyed the book very much. However, when I read a book about real people, I like to know if circumstances they undergo are historically true or fictitious. In this book, I could not find any other reference to the rape of Catherine by the Duke of Burgundy in any other source. I think Catherine was too great a person of history to manufacture something like that to happen to her, and it's too horrible a thing to make up. the book overall was exceptionally good reading. The only trouble I have is with the rape. True or fictional?

  • Heather
    2018-11-13 22:35

    Mild spoilers(?) ahead:I really enjoyed this novel, and I'm excited for the next book in the series (coming out next year, unfortunately). Having not read many novels about Catherine de Valois, I was unsure what to expect, but I found the characters sympathetic and engaging. The narrator, Mette, was a good choice. While her life revolved around Catherine's, she did have a family and concerns of her own. It is a drawn-out story, with Catherine's marriage to Henry V coming only toward the end, but the complicated politics of the French court during the Hundred Years War were important to include.Overall, an engrossing and surprisingly quick read.

  • Ariane Trelaun
    2018-11-03 18:40

    I did have definite mixed emotions about this book, but mostly enjoyed it, kept wanting to dive back into it. There are some really unfortunate and distracting typos throughout, not least of which is in the first line of Chapter 3, "The King is in his oubilette [sic] again" and then throughout. I did vastly appreciate the immersion in the dirt and dazzle of the early 15th century -- I think Hickson does a great job with that, and only wish for a sharper editorial eye on details. I hate to admit that it detracts from the reading for me, but it does, it does.Still, recommend this book.