The King's Mistress
By Emma Campion
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307589262, 480pp.)
Publication Date: May 24, 2011
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History has not been kind to Alice Perrers, the notorious mistress of King Edward III. Scholars and contemporaries alike have deemed her a manipulative woman who used her great beauty and sensuality to take advantage of an aging and increasingly senile king. But who was the woman behind the scandal? A cold-hearted opportunist or someone fighting for her very survival?
Like most girls of her era Alice is taught obedience in all things. At the age of fourteen she marries the man her father chooses for her, dutifully accepting the cost of being torn from the family she holds so dear and losing the love of her mother forever. Despite these heartbreaks Alice finds that merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and the two settle into a happy life together. Their bliss is short-lived, however, unraveled the dark day a messenger appears at Alice's door and notifies her of Janyn's sudden disappearance.
In the wake of this tragedy, Alice learns that her husband kept many dangerous secrets--secrets that result in a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Her only chance to survive lies in the protection of King Edward and Queen Philippa, but she therefore must live at court as a virtual prisoner. When she is singled out by the king for more than just royal patronage, the stakes are raised. Disobeying Edward is not an option, not when her family is at risk, but the court is full of ambitious men and women, many of whom will stop at nothing to see her fall fron grace. The whispers and gossip abound, isolating Alice, who finds unexpected solace in her love for the king.
Emma Campion paints a colorful and thrilling portrait of the court of Edward III--with all of its extravagance, scandalous love affairs, political machinations, and murder--and the devastating results of being singled out by the royal family. At the center of the storm is Alice, surviving by her wits in this dangerous world where the choices are not always of her own making. Emma Campion's dazzling novel shows that there is always another side to the story.
EMMA CAMPION did her graduate work in medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature and is the world's foremost scholar on Alice Perrers. She lives in Seattle.
"A medieval lover's dream novel…the vibrant backdrop and depth of historical details place Campion in the same league as Sharon Kay Penman and Alison Weir."--Romantic Times
"A dynamic fictionalization of the life of Alice Salisbury...an empathetic but realistic portrait of a colorful and, if Campion is to be believed, misunderstood woman."-- Publishers Weekly
"In THE KING’S MISTRESS, Alice Perrers at last comes into her own as a keen observer, not a villain, of English history. The High Middle Ages, the role of women, court intrigue, lust and love, all come alive through Alice's eyes. Yet the panoply of powerful people flaunting their influence and toying with other people's lives sounds amazingly modern. This is a rich novel to enjoy and ponder." --Karen Harper, author of The First Princess of Wales
"From her beginnings as a merchant's wife to her life as King Edward III's powerful mistress, Alice Perrers comes alive in Emma Campion's richly imagined novel. Beautifully written and utterly absorbing, this is an epic story you won't want to put down!" --Michelle Moran, author of Cleopatra's Daughter
"From the mercantile riches of early medieval London to the halls of intrigue in Westminster, Emma Campion weaves a sweeping, sumptuous account of a tumultuous era and of an irresistibly fallible woman, whose bold rise to power comes at an extraordinary price." --C.W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine De Medici
"A fascinating, extensively researched look at a much maligned woman. Emma Campion does Alice Perrers the same service that Anya Seton did for Katherine Swynford." --Susan Higginbotham, author of The Stolen Crown
"THE KING’S MISTRESS is an extraordinary novel, exquisitely detailed, epic in proportion, and as lush as the fabrics Emma Campion's Alice Perrers chooses for the queen." --Kate Emerson, author of Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens
"Arguably the most notorious 'wicked woman' of the fourteenth century, Alice Perrers has been loathed throughout history as a greedy, manipulative harlot. Emma Campion explores the life of an infamous villainess with skill and understanding, stripping away the layers to reveal the very human, vulnerable woman beneath. Well researched and beautifully written, THE KING’S MISTRESS will give readers much to think about even after they have read the last page." --Ella March Chase, author of The Virgin Queen's Daughter