Author: Anne O’Brien
I am by no means a history buff but I do love my historical fiction and when I read the blurb for The King’s Concubine I had to dive straight in. This character is really interesting, and firstly because she is loosely based on real life mistress to King Edward III of England, Alice Perrers.
There is little known fact about Alice which is why I say the story is loosely based. Alice was indeed one of Queen Phillipa’s ladies in waiting and when the Queen died her scandalous affair with the King was revealed. The author, Anne O’Brien has filled in the missing pieces and made Alice into an unlikely heroine – rather than an opportunistic seductress.
In The King’s Concubine, Alice Perrers is born a nobody but is motivated to create a new destiny. She craves something greater for herself and nothing is ever enough especially when it comes to her collection of properties. As the story unfolds, Alice finds herself thrust into a life of royalty and catches the eye of the king which raises more than a few eyebrows.
Alice is a strong, smart, determined character and I think that is what makes this book so gripping. She is unusual, she has a hard exterior and although she does have a softer side she rarely lets her guard down. By all accounts in the book she is very plain, even ugly – which is contradicted by the cover…so I can only assume she had a different kind of beauty for that era (the King fell in love with her after all so she must have had something!)
Her story is fascinating as she finds herself in a world of men with power games based on greed being played. And when her enemies eventually get their chance for revenge will Alice Perrers be left with nothing? In those days it would be a rarity for a woman not born into royalty to become one of the most powerful women in England, least of all for the fact she was a mistress.
If you are expecting a period romance with handsome men sweeping young women off their feet (not that there is anything wrong with that), this isn’t it. The King’s Concubine is so much more and I think the author perfected the story and her extensive research from the times shines through.
When I finished The King’s Concubine I was searching for more information on Mistress Perrers and was relieved to find very few facts – this means I can continue to picture her the way Anne O’Brien depicts her.