Today is one of those days I didn’t have anything planned for the blog. So as I was browsing the internet for inspiration, I came across this tag on Traveling in Books and knew I had to do it. You all know I am slightly obsessed with Alison Weir’s books. She writes two of my favorite series – The Six Tudor Queens and…. England’s Medieval Queens. Which, as I’ve said countless times, is basically The Real Housewives of Medieval England. It is that level of batshit crazy, and I love it. I have also learned that the only salacious gossip I actually enjoy consuming is the kind that is eight hundred years old.
Anyway, onto the tag! This tag was created by Jess from Jessticulates, and I’m so glad I found this tag and came across her blog because it looks awesome, so go check her out. Now, let’s talk about some Medieval Queens!
Empress Matilda (1102-1167)
After her father, Henry I, died naming her his heir, Matilda’s cousin, Stephen, subsequently took the throne for himself. Matilda never stopped fighting for what was rightfully hers. Though she would never be named Queen of England in her own right, she was able to convince Stephen to name her son, the future Henry II, his successor over his own children. Choose a book with a protagonist who stands their ground.
I couldn’t do this tag and not include one classic, so I have to choose Pride and Prejudice for this one. It might not seem like it in comparison to modern protagonists, but Elizabeth Bennet was a rebel. She refuses to get married, until it is something she wants to do. And when she does finally accept a proposal, she’s going against a very powerful woman. She doesn’t particularly care about what other people think about her, and doesn’t buy into the frivolity of many of the women of the time (namely, her younger sisters). I love how this book hides some feminist themes behind a romance novel facade.
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204)
Before she married Henry II and became Queen of England in 1152, Eleanor was Queen of France as the wife of Louis VII. She sought an annulment from her marriage to Louis and he eventually agreed because 15 years of marriage had produced no sons, only for Eleanor to go on to have eight children with Henry—five of whom were sons. Ouch! Choose a book or series in which the heroine has more than one romantic relationship.
I honestly don’t think I’ve read very many books where the heroine has more than one romantic relationship. So I think I have to with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. If you’ve read this, you know it’s probably a little bit of a stretch, but there is only one other book I can think of and it is kind of a spoiler to put it in this category. So it is what it is. Either way, Evelyn Hugo is an incredible book and you should all read it, if you haven’t already.
Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290)
A keen patron of literature and a successful businesswoman in her own right, Eleanor was Edward I’s first wife. He was so heartbroken when she died that he erected the Eleanor Crosses, 12 stone crosses marking the places where her body rested over night on its journey from Lincolnshire, where she died, to her burial place in London. Three of the crosses still survive today. Choose a bittersweet book.
I’ve sat here for like five minutes trying to decide between two books for this category, so I’m just gonna call it a tie between An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
In One True Loves, our protagonist is out to dinner with her parents and fiancé, when she gets a call. From her husband. Who she thought was dead. Turns out, he’s just been stranded on a deserted island all these years and was finally rescued. Now she has to choose: her new fiancé, who she’s been friends with since childhood, or her husband, who she has already grieved. As you can imagine, there is no way this doesn’t have a bittersweet ending.
And in An American Marriage, two newlyweds are enjoying a nice weekend away. Until a lady at their hotel accuses the husband of rape. He’s innocent, but just happened to be a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s convicted and his prison sentence takes a huge toll on their marriage. It is definitely a difficult read, but I think it does a pretty good job of illustrating what so many black people go through in America today.
Isabella of France (1295-1358)
Often known as the ‘She-Wolf of France’, Isabella was Edward II’s wife. Unfortunately for Edward he wasn’t particularly good at being king, and Isabella soon grew tired of his (possibly homosexual) relationship with his favourite, Hugh Despenser. After she began an affair with English nobleman Roger Mortimer while on a diplomatic mission to France, the pair returned to England with an army and she deposed Edward and acted as regent until their son, the future Edward III, came of age. Choose a book where the romance overtook the plot.
This took me a while to come up with an answer to, but I’m going with The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I love this series, but the second book has a major flaw. Which is the fifty or so pages where the protagonist gets sucked into a
romance sexy time la-la land with a beautiful woman. And I hated it. I honestly don’t remember much about this book, except how annoyed I was, not necessarily by the fact that that scene happened, but that it took SO LONG. I still ended up giving this four stars. I might need to reread it at some point to remember what I liked about it.
Philippa of Hainault (1310/15-1369)
Queen of England as the wife of Edward III, Philippa was beloved by the English people for her compassion and kindness. The Queen’s College, Oxford, founded in 1341, is named in her honour, so choose a book set at a university.
As much as I loved college, I honestly haven’t read very many books set at a university. But there is one that immediately came to mind, because it is one of my all-time favorite books: Vicious by V. E. Schwab. I’m sure most of you have probably already heard of this book, but if you haven’t, it’s about two university students who set out to test whether or not near-death experiences give people extraordinary powers. It’s very dark, but oh so good!
Joan of Navarre (1368-1437)
Joan was Henry IV’s second wife. Six years after his death, Joan was accused of attempting to poison her stepson, Henry V, through witchcraft and was imprisoned for four years until he ordered her release, just six weeks before he suddenly died. Choose a book about witches.
Despite the fact that I have several on my TBR, I haven’t really read very many books about witches (which I discovered when I scrolled through Good reads to come up with an answer for this prompt). But there is one that I absolutely loved, and kind of fits the theme of this tag (which I have decided is badass women), and that is Circe by Madeline Miller. Circe is probably best known for turning her enemies into animals, but Miller makes her a really dimensional and sympathetic character. I loved it! And now I need to go read more books about witches.
That is it for this tag! Thanks to Jess for creating it, this was brilliant and I had so much fun!
If you’d like to participate in this tag, consider yourself tagged. And if you have any recommendations for good books about witches, leave them in the comments below, because I obviously need them.