Tuesday, November 2, 2010

'The Forever Queen' by Helen Hollick (Sourcebooks Fall Reading Club Pick)

Genre: Historical Fiction

About:(From Sourcebooks)One of historical fiction's most talented authors tells one of the most unique and riveting stories of medieval England. Emma of Normandy was anointed, crowned, and the reigning queen to two different kings, the mother of two more, and the great aunt of William the Conqueror. Little has been written of this great woman and her tumultuous life, until now.....

Why I wanted to read this book:

  • I am a huge fan of historical fiction and truly enjoy this genre. What really drew me to this story was that I had never heard of Queen Emma and I wanted to learn more about her life.
What worked for me:
  • The descriptions! Wow..I felt like I was there in medieval England. Hollick has a magical way with her words which really brought the story to life for me.
  • Emma- She is an amazing woman and I'm truly astounded that more books have not been written about her. This woman was given in marriage when she was only thirteen years old. Could you imagine that??? Seriously! Her first husband was such a horrible man and she managed to live through his reign. She had to grow up overnight and learn to trust her instincts. I liked how she often reflected on advice from her mother and when she became a mother herself, understood why she experienced such a distant relationship with her own. For a queen it never was a good thing to become too attached to your children.
  • I enjoyed how the author broke the book up into smaller books with each husband/son's reign. Hollick really laid the groundwork so that the reader could get a very personal look into Emma's world and how she continued to keep the crown.
  • I became very attached to Emma and her  friend Godwine. I couldn't imagine being in her shoes with all of the political intrigue, back stabbers, rumors whirling about you without at least one trusted friend.
  • I found myself romanticizing her marriage with Cnut and I sincerely hope that they did experience a love affair. So often I think of royalty marriages as being made for alliances only, with no consideration of love for either person. To think they may have been soul mates makes my heart feel good. 
What didn't work for me:
  • The first book which explores Emma's life being married to AEthelred was a bit tedious. There's so much information to get through, but trust me the book picks up in Part don't give up!!
  • The family tree in the front was very confusing!! I study these as if my life depends on it and it still takes forever for it all to sink in. Plus, their names are a pain in the tush because more than one person has the same name!!
What you should do before reading this book:
  • I would recommend that you read some online biographies of Emma. I went online while I was reading this because I was having a hard time keeping everyone straight. This particular biography helped me quite a bit.
Recommend? Absolutely, especially if you're a huge historical fiction fan. I love learning while I'm reading especially when it's entertaining, so I would not hesitate to tell others to read this. Yes, it is a chunkster, but so worth it. I didn't want it to end even after 622 pages and imagine my sheer delight when I discovered that Hollick is working on the next book in the Lost Kingdom 1066 series, Harold the King!!! Yay!!!

My Rating: 4/5

Thank you to Danielle @ Sourcebooks for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review.
My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.
They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

About the author: Helen Hollick is the author of The Pendragon's Banner Series, The Forever Queen, and the Spring 2011 release, The Man Who Lost England. She lives in London, England with her husband, daughter, and a variety of pets. She has two major interests: Roman/Saxon Britain and the Golden Age of Piracy (the early eighteenth century.) Her particular pleasure is researching the facts behind the small glimpses of history and bringing the characters behind those facts to full and glorious life. She has an Honors Diploma in Early Medieval History and is the co-scriptwriter for the move project 1066. For more information, please visit Helen Hollick.

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  1. This sounds really good. I didn't know about Emma either, but I do know that back then as soon as girls had their first period, they were considered ready for marriage. Ugh!!!

  2. High praise. I love the cover of this one and it sounds like a great read. Really great review.

  3. Wowwwwwww! This sounds really GOOD! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  4. Great review -- after reading Anya Seton's Avalon, I've had a thing for medieval historical fiction with some meat to it -- this one sounds delish!

  5. I do believe that when I read that book about her long ago I romanticized her relationship with Cnut too :)

    I tend to google while I read ;) So I know that when reading this one, then half the time I would spend infront of the computer lol

  6. I always have problems with historicals that have confusing family trees, especially when there are lots of the same names. Glad this one was worth it.

  7. I decided not to participate in this book club, but now I'm sort of disappointed, because this sounds as if it was very interesting!

  8. Historical fiction tends to be chock-full of details. Written well, you don't notice them so much but sometimes the details become a bit of a distraction. I do like a good historial fiction book although I don't read them too often.

  9. You did a great review on this one! It's very interesting and I am glad you ended up liking it!

  10. I've never heard of Queen Emma, either but it is strange considering the influence she had to have had. I'm definitely going to have to pick this one up.

  11. It's on my kindle--I'll read it right after I re-read Harry Potter 7

  12. I haven't heard of Emma either although I love the name. This woman sounds very fascinating with all of her husbands, sons and other connections.

  13. I'm also a huge fan of historical fiction, and I think I'd quite enjoy this. It sounds like some background reading beforehand would definitely help, though.

  14. One of the reasons I wrote this novel is because so few people have heard of Queen Emma - that's because she was a queen of Saxon England and the Norman Conquest rather swept much of the pre 1066 history aside.

    Oh the names! Believe me having difficult names is as hard to write as to read. So many of them have the same or similar names - I have come to the conclusion that the Anglo Saxons could have done with a few Baby Name books! It is even worse in the next book - I Am The Chosen King: the men are all Edward, Swegn or Harold and the women Edith or Gytha! A nightmare to write! LOL

    Thank you for the great review and inviting me onto your blog

  15. This sounds like one I would enjoy! I've never heard of Queen Emma, either, and I'm always looking for engaging historical fiction!

  16. I didn't read the whole review since I am currently read this, and didn't want to see any spoilers. Regardless, I am adoring Emma! How a woman in this time period survived so far is amazing. Hollick is an amazing writer.

  17. Definitely a book I am adding to my wish list!

  18. I skimmed your review as I've just started reading this one but I did take note of the biography link as I know next to nothing about Emma. Thanks Staci :)

  19. I like how you write your reviews. This sounds so good.

  20. This one MUST go on my to-buy pile! Thanks for the wonderfully informative review! I'm off to read the biography you pointed us to (and to add this to my GoodReads shelf!)

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries


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