There were things about A TRIPLE KNOT by Emma Campion that I absolutely loved and there were things that irritated me. My final conclusion on the book is that it was excellent, so the irritations must have been insignificant enough not to really matter in the grand scheme of things.
The novel is historical fiction, and probably historical romance although not in the way that most historical romances are filled with bed-hopping. It is the fictionalized story of Joan of Kent who lived in England during the middle of the 14th Century. Joan was a Plantagenet – part of one of the families who later fought the War of the Roses in England. That made her marriageable into many important houses that would offer important alliances to then-King Edward III.
And this is where Campion starts her story. I’m not entirely sure why it’s called A TRIPLE KNOT other than that it is because Joan goes through three husbands. And sews a lot. She sews a lot. But that’s what women did then – they got married and they did needlework.
With a lot of conniving, scheming, and childbearing in between.
Joan was very good at these things. She wasn’t conniving so much in that she never intended to deliberately hurt anyone unless they had seriously harmed her family – like the Dowager Queen Isabella who she held responsible for her father’s execution. She schemed, though, and did it well. And she ended up the mother to seven children – reality.
The catch is, and this is what irritated me, that Joan is ten when the book begins. She’s twelve when she enters into her
Personally, I think accounts of this era of history are fascinating – fiction or non-fiction. And as someone who also likes to read non-fiction, I know that twelve year old girls, and younger, were often married off to much older men. It was reality.
But it doesn’t really fit this story.
The way Campion writes Joan, it’s too easy to forget that she’s twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and so on. So easy that I was startled out of the story every time Campion had someone mention Joan’s age. The character reads as someone older and that makes it hard to grasp her as little more than a child. I’m not saying her age should have been altered, just maybe that her age shouldn’t have been mentioned.
And that’s why the story is a conflict for me, but one that I very much liked in the end.
The added bonus of it all, though, was that it sent me to non-fiction books to look up more about Joan and Edward, The Black Prince – who I knew existed but I didn’t know much about. Any book that entertains me and then teaches me is a book I love.
(I received a copy of A TRIPLE KNOT through Net Galley in return for an honest review.)