- File Size: 755 KB
- Print Length: 255 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Madame Guillotine (April 10, 2013)
- Publication Date: April 10, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00CBKBHY0
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,284 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Minette Kindle Edition
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This is the first of two books based on the life of Princess Henrietta Anne (Minette), younger sister to Charles II. Told in the first person narrative, the book begins in 1654. The Stuarts are in exile and a young Minette is living in Paris with her mother, with money and apartments provided by the French crown (well, they are all family). The bulk of the story in this book revolves around Minette's teenage years living at the French court and the slippery slope of being a penniless princess in the world of kings and courtiers. The latter part of the book covers Minette's grand visit to England after brother Charles gets his crown; her return to France and marriage to Philippe, Louis XIV's younger brother.
My thoughts? I liked this one a lot, I've always been interested in Minette's story and there aren't that many books to pick and choose from - more often than not she's a secondary character - so hats off to Ms. Clegg for telling her story. I generally don't like the first person narrative, but I thought it was well done in this one, extra pluses for not talking to herself about how beautiful she was (a pet peeve of mine). I appreciated the way dialogue and interaction with other characters was used to recount back-history to the reader, as opposed to the tedious info dumps I've seen from other authors. It was abundantly clear how much she loved her family (especially her brothers), as well as how her brothers adored her. I very much appreciated this take on Minette, she was a genuinely good, caring person without the heavy sugar-coated Mary-Sue heroines so popular these days. I'm looking forward reading more on Philippe and Armand, and again hats off to the author for not succumbing to the temptation to overwrite Philippe's character and turn him into a flaming OTT homosexual.
I did find a few typos scattered here and there, but nothing that really detracted from the story. Anxiously awaiting book #2.
Minette was raised at her mother's side at the French court. Although greatly favored and assisted by the Queen Regent Anne, the family was always short of funds and found it hard to keep up appearances. Young Charles, who was only 15 when his father was executed, became persona non grata at the french court as France tried to maintain good relationships with the government of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England. Charles and his brothers spent some 15 years knocking around Europe, a king with no kingdom and very little money. Over the course of the years, Minette although small, thin, and immature, eventually grew into a beauty, talented in the dance and in planning and performing in dramatic presentations for the court. Queen Anne, Mother Regent of France for her son, Luis XIV, equally talented in the dance, was very kind to Henrietta, her sister-in-law, and Minette, her niece. They were included in every court diversion, including the dances and parties. Many times Queen Anne arranged for new dresses and jewels for Minette, so she would not feel too shabby at the elaborate parties. Luis and Minette were invariably the stars of the parties. Although gossip often paired the two, Minette as the daughter of a executed, displaced monarch, did not have the social stature to marry the heir to the French throne.
Deposed Queen of England, Henrietta and her daughter, were surrounded by poverty-stricken English families, Royalists, who had fled England for their own protection or out of fidelity to their deposed royal family. They camped around and in the lower levels of the palaces where the ex royal family were allowed to live. Funds for food and fuel were not adequate, but Henrietta shared what she had with her suffering followers. During the coldest part of the winter, sometimes Henrietta and Minetta had to put on their warmest clothing and stay in bed all day in order to stay warm.
Although they did not have much chance to enjoy each other's company, a strong relationship of mutual love and regard developed between Charles and his youngest sister. Eventually as Minette matured, it was decided, by the two Queens, I believe, that Phillip, the younger brother of Luis, should marry Minette. She accepted his proposal, and very soon thereafter, Charles was recalled to England and crowned as Charles II. The whole family, including Henrietta and Minette, soon went to England to recover the palaces and possessions of the English Crown. This was a deliriously happy time for the whole family, although Minette realized that for her this was a temporary joy. She would have to soon return to France to marry Phillip. As the happy family time drew to an end, the family was plunged into heavy grief by the sudden death of Mary, Henrietta's firstborn, from smallpox. Mary was the widowed Princess of Orange and had returned to England to celebrate this joyful time with her family. Minette was devastated as she had just met and become close with her only living sister. A brother, Henry, had already suuumed to this dread disease before Henrietta and Minette arrived in England. Left now besides Charles were only two siblings, James and Minette. The family was bowed with grief.
Pressure was coming from France for Minette to return to fulfill her betrothal promise to Phillip. The tie between Charles and Minette had become even closer, and Minette also realized she was becoming romantically attracted to one of the English courtiers. Although not in love with Phillip, the three of them, Luis, Phillip, and Minette, had been happy cousins together in childhood and their young teenage years. She had been closer to Luis than Phillip, but by now he had been married to a royal princess of Spain. As the sister of the reigning King of England, she now had the status to marry Luis, but Charles' restoration had come too late for that.
Henrietta was upset because vulgar gossip, though completely unfounded, was linking the names of Charles and Minette as being more than brother and sister to each other. Privately Charles offered to back Minette if she wanted to break off her engagement to Phillip and stay in England, even though it would cause an international scandal and destroy the fragile friendship between England and France. Minette, encouraged by her mother, decided she needed to return to France and Phillip.
The whole story is tragic, but the last part is the worst. Soon after her marriage, it became obvious that Phillip was homosexual with a live-in partner. Minette was not only marginalized in the household but was soon cruelly tormented by Phillip and his lover. Also, before long, Luis and Minette realized that they were in love. What a mess!
Henrietta was voted a pension by the English parliament, but in order to receive it, she had to spend most of her time in the England that she hated as the place of the murder of her husband. She was granted a palace and lived there practically in mourning. Minette came to England one more time. She was overjoyed to be with her mother and brothers again, especially Charles, however Luis, now Luis XIV reigning in his own right, had only let her go on the condition that she spy for France. After this semi-happy time in England, she reluctantly returned to France where she soon met her death under suspicious circumstances. What a sad story, but it is history and really happened. The book is extremely informative and well-written and puts faces on all these historical characters.