Saturday, 5 April 2014

Review of Isabella, Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer

'Isabella, Braveheart of France' is an intriguing title chosen by Colin Falconer, because it immediately made it associate it with the dreadful 'Braveheart' film.  It also made me think this was going to be yet another novel with poor, wronged Isabella, innocently marrying Edward and unaware of the great love of her husband's life, Piers Gaveston.  We do indeed get an Isabella, young and naive, and of course beautiful, who imagines her husband will fall madly in love with her and they will live happily ever after.  However, what we don't get is a weak and vain Edward who enjoys inflicting cruelty upon his child bride.  Instead, Isabella comes to understand no matter how beautiful she is, it will never be enough for her husband to give up his love for Piers - even when Piers is murdered.  Years later, Isabella hears Edward talking aloud to the long dead Piers, and their marriage continues to be haunted by his spirit.


Piers himself is more of a presence in this novel than a character.  Although there are scenes featuring him, we never get a physical description of him, which I found puzzling and frustrating.  We don't even know if he is blonde or dark-haired, the colour of his eyes etc.  We know he's graceful, elegant and actually quite likable - he doesn't behave spitefully towards Isabella at all.  Edward of course does everything he can to protect Piers - to the point where Piers says if he were a woman, Edward would be admired for protecting his ' honour'.  Edward's grief at losing Piers is very movingly written.


The characters/roles of Roger Mortimer and Hugh Despencer are very interesting and not what I was expecting.  I won't give away too much, but Despencer turns out to be Edward's revenge on England for the loss of Piers, and Mortimer's relationship with Isabella is not what I expected - it's far from a great romance and Mortimer at times is brutal towards her in the bedroom, and there are times she longs for Edward's gentle hands.


This novel is well worth a read, and is available in Kindle and paperback format.



9 comments:

Kathryn Warner said...

Nice review! I can't stand the title, I'm afraid, though at least it will make the topic of the novel clear to fans of the film. I really enjoyed the novel and found it very fair to both Edward and Isabella.

Anerje said...

The Braveheart title is really off-putting, and I agree it is fair to both Edward and Isabella. It's Mortimer who comes out worst of all IMO.

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I dare to disagree: the title may sound off-putting, but I think it was the author's intention to lure as many readers as possible by means of it and it's only for the best for Edward and Isabella, and Piers :-) You find the novel well written, surprising, and far from reinforcing the stereotypes, or am I wrong? ;-)

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

BTW, is "Falconer" the author's real surname or pen name? It sounds as if he came straight from the Middle Ages :-)

Anerje said...

Hi Kasia - I liked the portrayal of Edward, and Isabella came out of it better than I expected. There wasn't enough Piers in it for me! It was the lack of a physical description that got me - Ed and Isa were described in detail, but not Piers. They weren't the usual stereotypes - although we were told how beautiful Isabella was repeatedly - like it would have made any difference to Edward:>

No idea what the authors real name is - but it's a good one:>

Anerje said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anerje said...

and yes, I expect the title would be to draw in readers unfamiliar with the history.

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Dear Anerje! I just want to wish you, Piers, and your family a happy Easter. Hope you'll read these words :-)

Anerje said...

Thank you Kasia - and a very Happy Easter to you and your family.