Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Book Review of The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott...
This is a mesmerizing story of 17th century England during the regin of Charles II. Such a tumultuous time to have lived. Scandalous affairs, libertines, and religious unrest. This is the world that Katherine Sedley was born into and raised. Her mother was crazy and her father was a well known libertine and favorite of King Charles II.
Katherine went to live with her father at the age of 10 and was brought up with indulgence and no discipline in the company of less than desirable characters such as the Duke of Buckingham and Rochester. Her father was her world and she was his. Katherine was never considered a beautiful child even said to be homely. She made up for her lack of beauty with her scathing wit. She was clever and percoious.
It is said that the habits established in youth are the hardest to break as the years pass, and certainly that was the case with me. My father's indulgence gave me much freedom and little guidance, and like the fledgling bird that tries to fly too soon to flutter unformed wings, my first attempts to act beyond my tender years were often not sweet. I told unseemly jests, I swore when I lost at cards, I laughed too loudly, and my ever sharpening wit was much more suited to one of Father's libertine friends than a brash, ungainly girl of thirteen. The Countess and the King pg. 43.
When Katherine was 15 she was not the least bit interested in marriage much to the dismay of her father the girl just wanted to have fun. Her world was just fine as it was until her father found his true love, Mrs. Ayscough. Katherine's life of late nights and late mornings were about to come to an end along with her inheritance. Mrs. Ayscough would become Lady Sedley and produce the longed for male heir which diminished Katherine's fortune by half. Her father will no longer be the fun loving libertine but a faithful, dutiful and responsible husband.
Katherine will be invited to court to attend to the newly married Duchess of York who the King feels will relate well to Katherine because of their similar ages. Katherine will go to court and attend the Duchess of York where she will for-go a respectable marriage to become the mistress of the handsome Duke of York who will later become the King James II. The story continues with intrigue, betrayal and scandal. Katherine does find love and stays true to her Protestant convictions in spite of her lover being a Catholic who will have to morally rationalize to himself his affair with her.
There is so much more to this amazing story. I am usually stuck in 14th and 15th century England so this was a refreshing change. I really think it would make for a good period piece. I think we are all a little intrigued by Charles II's court.
Last summer I had the opportunity to visit Windsor Castle and my favorite part was visiting the apartments of King Charles. Also visiting London and seeing where the great fire started, etc. was fascinating to say the least.
I loved this book and I am a new fan of Ms. Scott's. She captures the essence of the feelings she is portraying. One part that was particularly poignant to me was when Katherine realized her father was in love with another woman and she was asked to accept her. I have been there and done that with my own father and I am ashamed to say that I acted in much the same way as Ms. Scott portrayed Katherine's reaction.
Thank-you Ms. Scott for giving me this opportunity to read and review your marvelous new novel I look forward to reading your previous works.