- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805089926
- ISBN-13: 978-0805089929
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,059,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Queen's Daughter Hardcover – June 8, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up This coming-of-age novel is set against the backdrop of 12th-century Europe. King Henry II of England is at war with France's King Louis VII, who happens to be supported by Henry's eldest sons. Henry's wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, gives lessons on politics and what it means to be a queen to their daughter Joan. Despite her notorious parents, this is Joan's story. Coventry does a thorough job of developing the princess's character as she grows from a naive child of seven at the start of the novel into a woman in her 30s who has full knowledge of the world around her. Readers are privy to Joan's thoughts about love for two parents who hate one another, her fear of becoming a child bride in an arranged marriage to the king of Sicily, and her uncertainty about how to please him. Throughout her many years of childless marriage to William, she holds feelings of adoration for the philandering Lord Raymond, Count of Toulouse. By the time they meet again, Joan is no shrinking violet, and she is finally able to fulfill all of her duties as a wife and strong female leader of her people. The battle scenes of the Crusades are necessary to the development of the plot and are thankfully short. Fans of historical fiction, and especially historical romance, will devour this volume. Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
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Joan is the only daughter of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, the king of England. Her brothers, especially Henry and Richard, garner most of her father's attention, and Joan is by turns neglected and used by her feuding parents until she is married off in her teens to the sickly king of Sicily for political advantage. Joan struggles to understand herself and to make her marriage work while watching her family slowly destroy itself, all the while wondering if her parents' views of marriage and love are right or just politically expedient. Historical fiction about British royalty, set in the twelfth century no less, is unusual, and for that reason alone, this first novel is a solid choice. Coventry's focus is neither the battles nor the political intrigue, though both are important elements. Instead, her strength is character development, especially Joan's. The plot's pacing is slow at times, but the settings are vividly imagined, and readers will champion Joan in her search for love. Grades 9-12. --Melissa Moore
Top customer reviews
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In Joan, the author has created a believable and likable heroine. We watch her grow from girl to woman. At an early age, she is sent away from England to enter an arranged royal marriage. Will she find happiness with her new husband and in her role as queen of Sicily? The pull of Joan's original family remains strong. She ultimately goes on the Crusades and most dauntingly comes to an independent view of her mother and her adored brother, Richard.
This might be a surprisingly easy story for all too many modern young people to relate to. Joan starts out caught between two estranged, sometimes literally warring parents. Loving one of them seems like a betrayal of the other. The book has love, drama, and action, and gives the reader a multihued picture of the times. I read it in just a couple of days because I came to care so much about the heroine. I strongly recommend this book to both adults and teens.
In The Queen's Daughter, author Susan Coventry explores the life of Joan, the daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England with a YA-style approach. From a young age, Joan feels the pull of court politics, as well as the "taint" placed on her mother for divorcing (completely against the social conventions of the time) her first husband, King Louis of France, and marrying the up-and-coming Henry of Anjou (later king of England). Even worse, Joan must survive the strife between her mother and father as Henry's affections begin to wander. As soon as a deal can be made, Joan is sent to marry the king of Sicily, and thrown into yet another web of politics.
I guess I have mixed feelings about this book. It feels like Coventry did a good job of portraying the period accurately and so forth (I don't know that much about Joan, so it's not like I even know the history) and her prose is solid, but it just didn't stand up to my expectations for the book. Perhaps I had unreachable expectations, but I just wanted more from it. The biggest thing is that the characters were weak. They never really came alive on the page for me, and even seemed to get more distant as the story went on. Sadly, even Joan never felt realistic, sympathetic or well, anything, beyond just a line in a book. I think this caused the biggest issue for me, as a reader who really enjoys characters who I can really invest in, Queen's Daughter just didn't have that. I never really felt like I had a clear entry point for the story, so I was not able to become fully part of everything.
I know -I'm picky, but when there are so many books out there, many of which I've read, you can be a little picky. I think that Coventry has some great ideas here and I like the topic she chose to approach, but I think she needs to work on her characterization more. Weak characters seriously inhibited my ability to really enjoy this book, and I wish I had gotten more out of it.
It was also interesting to read of Joan's story--how she felt stuck between her mother and father during their battles, and how her life changed whilst she was Queen of Sicily. I liked that Ms Coventry decided to end the novel the way she did: with Joan happy with her second husband. She mentions in her author's note that historians disagree about which of her marriages were happy, if any. I feel the way Ms Conventry decided to write it was a good choice for an historical fiction novel.
The main drawback to this novel is that it seeemed to be very hurried. It skipped from one event to the next so quickly that I never truly felt connected to Joan's character. Some more detail would have been nice, not only of Joan's thoughts and feelings but of the environment around her. This is not necessarily a short novel, but I would have been content if it was longer due to the inclusion of these things.
Overall though it was an enjoyable novel, spanning from one side of Europe to the other. In fact when you open this novel you are met by a wonderful map across a two-page spread. It is one of the best maps I have seen of Medieval Europe contained within a novel. I will keep this novel on my bookshelf for this map.
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Henry Holt and Company, 2010
YA; Historical Fiction
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