- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books (July 8, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307589293
- ISBN-13: 978-0307589293
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 126 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Triple Knot: A Novel Paperback – July 8, 2014
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“Her thorough grounding in medieval history is apparent in Campion’s richly detailed 14th-century saga...Suspenseful, romantic, but surprisingly gritty, it doesn’t take long to be drawn into this enthralling story of turmoil and conflict in the early stages of the Hundred Years’ War...Campion’s depictions of the people—complex, tricky, faithless and loyal—leap right off these pages and stick in your memory.”
“A well-researched, beautifully written novel of the fourteenth century that will have readers of history entranced.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“History lovers will enjoy this interesting look at an often forgotten time in England’s history.”
—Historical Novels Review
“Emma Campion brings medieval history to life. She describes the details of both royalty and the common man... We can picture the pageantry and majesty of the royal court. Lovers of historical fiction won’t be disappointed.”
—Fredericksburg Freelance Star
“A compelling romance... If you enjoy Medieval English history, a little love, a little intrigue and a lot of drama, then pick up this book... Campion is a skilled author and superb storyteller.”
“I have always loved history and A Triple Knot reminded me why. It's well written, with more than a touch of empathy for the strong-minded Fair Maid of Kent.”
“Campion has mixed a well-researched plot with vividly drawn characters in a story that will engross fans of English medieval history.”
“Emma Campion brings Plantagenet history to life in this 'You Are There' historical novel. A Triple Knot unties a fascinating puzzle from the past and pulls the reader into the loves and losses, tragedies and triumphs of a dynamic woman, Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent. An impressively researched and realistically rendered novel.”
—Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The First Princess of Wales
“A Triple Knot is a superbly written, evocative tale of Joan of Kent that captivated me from the first page and held me until the very end. With a deft eye for detail and a wonderfully authentic evocation of time and place, Campion has delivered what is certain to become a classic.”
—Diane Haeger, author of The Secret Bride: In the Court of Henry VIII
“In this meticulously researched, richly detailed and empathetic novel, Emma Campion skillfully brings to life the enchanting Joan, Fair Maid of Kent and First Princess of Wales who was described by the chronicler Jean Froissart as ‘the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving.' With a bigamous union bracketed by two secret marriages—one to the Black Prince—she makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the glittering court of Edward III where intrigue and danger walk hand in hand with royalty and love.”
—Sandra Worth, author of The King’s Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen
“Emma Campion's portrayal of Joan of Kent is exquisite. A Triple Knot dazzled, packed with all the romance and intrigue of Plantagenet England. Vivid, well researched and beautifully written, Campion's Joan of Kent is a worthy heroine and one you will never forget.”
—Ella March Chase, author of The Virgin Queen’s Daughter and The Queen's Dwarf
“With grace, accuracy and authenticity, Emma Campion brings Joan of Kent and her world to vivid, captivating life in A Triple Knot. Campion’s 14th century is as detailed, gorgeous and fascinating as a millefleur tapestry—her history is immaculate, her characters convincing, and Joan, who is sometimes glossed over in the history books as the Fair Maid of Kent and little more, is complex yet sympathetic as Campion clarifies all the questions that historians might raise about this enigmatic woman. This exciting, compelling historical novel immerses the reader until the very last sentence. I loved A Triple Knot and I look forward to more from Emma Campion!”
—Susan Fraser King, author of Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter
“A Triple Knot is the story of a steadfast love pitted against the cold, political maneuverings of 14th century Plantagenet royals. Set amid the hardships and uncertainties of the Hundred Years War, Emma Campion’s portrayal of Joan of Kent and of the men who seek to claim her is masterful, sweeping us into a high medieval world that is both gracious and grim. Brilliantly imagined, this is a complex and ravishing blend of history, intrigue, scandal and romance.”
—Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown
“Emma Campion's Joan of Kent is a remarkable creation. She springs off the page, completely alive, growing in stature and confidence as her young
years pass, steadfast in her love in spite of all adversities. Compassionate, loving, she moves with grace and splendor throughout. A Triple Knot is a brilliant, tender portrait of a passionate woman in dangerous times.”
—Chris Nickson, author of the Richard Nottingham novels
About the Author
EMMA CAMPION is the author of The King's Mistress and did her graduate work in medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature. She lives in Seattle. Visit her at www.emmacampion.com.
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Top customer reviews
Quite a bit is known of Joan's life, but even so that's not a great deal. This, however, leaves ample space for the author to create a strong, personal portrayal of how the historical figures might have lived according to their own imagination, and to have some fun creating personalities for fictional characters and those historical personages of whom we know little to nothing about in the hopes of drawing reasonable conclusions to questions that continue to plague us and events that continue to intrigue us in the 21st century. In this book Ms. Campion's author's note brings up a question that historians and even I myself have wondered: Why was Joan of Kent buried next to Thomas Holland instead of Edward, Prince of Wales (also known as the Black Prince)? This question is the platform on which the author builds her story. Which one of her husbands was her "prince"?
The novel begins in 1338. Joan, along with her mother Margaret, Countess of Kent, and her brother John are wards of King Edward III, his wife Phillipa of Hainault, and the Dowager Queen Isabella. Joan's father Edmund, Earl of Kent, was a younger half-brother of the now deposed and murdered Edward II. During the bloody civil war that pitted Edward II against his wife Queen Isabella, Joan's father stayed loyal to his brother to the end, but sadly he was on the wrong side when the fighting ended. Isabella's lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, had the earl of Kent beheaded when his and Isabella's armies defeated her husband's and Joan's poor family was left to begrudgingly take hospitality offered by the royal family of which they were, by both marriage and blood, a part of. The new king, Edward III, and his wife, Phillipa of Hainault, were none too happy about the arrangement either. It soon becomes clear that their son Edward, Prince of Wales is far too interested in his pretty little cousin. Joan's Plantagenet blood will make her a nice bargaining tool on the marriage market, and the king, very much in need of funds for his war with France, grasps at the opportunity to marry her off to the highest bidder. But the lively Joan has other plans.
When the court moves from England to Flanders, Joan is sent to meet up with her royal family while King Edward is petitioning rich merchants and nobles for money to continue his campaign against the French (which would mark the beginning of the Hundred Years War). The king is also beginning the process of finding eligible candidates for Joan's hand in marriage; someone who would bring a much needed supply of money and troops in exchange for a bride with royal blood would be ideal, and there seems to be more than enough families who would be willing to make this arrangement. Once Joan, who is now twelve and considered of marriagable age, learns of these negotiations, panic sets in. Enter the dashing Thomas Holland, a handsome knight in King Edward's service, whom Joan met on the trip from England to Flanders. The two had struck up a flirtatious and lusty yet entirely platonic relationship on the ship that brought them to Flanders. In this handsome man of honor Joan sees a possibility of rendering the other proposals for her hand null and void. A terrified Joan begs Holland's help in taking her off the gaming table after one potential suitor becomes inappropriate with her, and to her delight he seems more than willing to be of service.
Thomas Holland is more than sympathetic to the hardships Joan and her family have been through. Having also lost his father to Isabella and Mortimer's cronies, the 26-year-old Holland soon falls for the twelve-year-old Joan; both of them finding there's a real possibility of a happy future, and to Joan (or just about anyone at the time) something almost unheard of in marriage...a love match! While love in marriage was a strange thought, there was nothing unusual about the arrangement of a girl of twelve (the legal age of consummation according to the Church, although the parents could stipulate a waiting period in the marriage contract if they so chose) marrying a man two, if not more, times her age. If anything, among the nobility, it was commonplace. But it isn't just a legal pledging of their troth, there is sexual consummation that stems not just from love and lust, but a consummation due to fear. Joan believes if her virginity is taken, she wouldn't seem such a prize. All of these factors do, in the eyes of the law and church, make for a legally binding marriage. The naivete is overwhelming during these scenes.
When Holland must leave Joan to resume his place in the King's army and also as a hired mercenary (a man's got to make a living!), she is sent back home to her mother away from the court and its greedy members. Once at home, when Holland doesn't immediately appear at her side Joan comes clean to her mother about the relationship. She is manipulated, along with her mother, by the high ranking male members of her family and those of the Montagu family who had been chosen as the most advantageous match for Joan. Convinced she was tricked and told her marriage to Thomas isn't legal, her family jump in immediately to wed her to William Montagu (also spelled in the historical records as Montacute), the future Earl of Salisbury, a man whom Joan despises and attempts to resist marrying as she is not able to banish Holland from her heart. For the sake of storytelling, Ms. Campion makes William Montagu out to be homosexual, or at least bisexual, although there is nothing in the historical record to indicate this. This is the beginning of a ten year struggle for Joan and Thomas to prove their marriage was legal, all the while Joan must live with a man she hates and who loves Prince Edward and his stableboys more than her, also never forgetting her feelings for Holland and constantly fighting off increasingly forceful advances from her cousin, Prince Edward. After a decade of separation, the lovers are finally joined after a papal ruling declares Joan and Holland's marriage valid and her marriage to William Montagu void. But all this time fighting has taken its toll on Holland, and with him being twice Joan's age they only have eleven years as man and wife, but managed to have four children together and historical sources seem to suggest that their marriage was a happy one (the book certainly does!). However, only one year after Holland's death, Joan finally marries Prince Edward. It's like she just gives up, shrugs her shoulders and says "whatever, let's do this."
All in all, the story is not a bad one. It was its execution and style I didn't like. Much of it felt disjointed, the chapters short without much difference in their content through much of the book. Most chapters after the introduction of Thomas Holland seemed almost to have a formula. There was no "grey area" for the characters. Everyone was good or bad, or in the case of the couple of characters who did seem to sort of fall into that in between area (Dame Katarina, Lady Lucienne) had some sort of personal gain which made even their good actions seem selfish. I absolutely did not like the portrayal of Prince Edward as a spoiled, mean, somewhat sadistic little buggar who stalks Joan and makes anyone she loves feel sorry for having gained her affection! And I suppose I wasn't wowed by the author's prose either, which is harsh I know, but I felt there was an awful lot of telling instead of showing. I wanted to smell, taste, see, touch, and emotionally connect with the characters of the 14th century, not just read words that relate to it. I want to be transported to these years, these events that changed the course of human history from the safety of my home. The Black Death was raging during the time when Holland went to Avignon to petition the pope, and it was like, "Oh yeah, there's a pretty bad illness going around. We're not sure what it is, but yeah it's pretty bad...so you know, be careful or something." An illness that wiped out a third of Europe's population (and that's a conservative estimate) gets little more than a few acknowledgements! There have been a couple of people who brought up the possibility of the author writing from Joan's sheltered world and how it didn't affect her personally. But I'm calling a firm "no way" on that theory. Edward III's daughter, Princess Joan (yes, Joan of Kent's cousin was also named Joan) died of the great mortality in France on her way to marry into the royal house of Castile, aged 14. She was said to be the King's favorite child, and she was raised in the same nursery as Joan of Kent. The royal children shared so much, in some cases even the same wet nurse, so I have a hard time believing that the death of her cousin didn't hit Joan hard. No one's life was spared grief during this time. Just my opinion, as is the entirety of this review.
Okay, now this is a personal dislike, but that book cover! Ugh! Of all the beautiful gowns and jewels there could have been, or a pretty girl representing Joan, or the beauty of the Kentish countryside...but instead we get a woman's laces and a man's hands fumbling at them. Sheesh! This was done on the part of the publishers, no doubt. The author usually has only a little bit of say, if any, in the matter of the cover photo which must be frustrating. I don't know if Ms. Campion intends to follow this book up with a sequel, but it felt terribly wrong to end the book at her marriage to Prince Edward. The events that followed changed English history. Her son by Edward became Richard II who was usurped by his cousin and left to starve to death! Joan passed away before Richard's murder, but she still had a great deal to do with his reign since he was only a child when his father died, thus leaving him next in line for the throne. His death and Henry Bolingbroke's usurpation of the throne marked the beginning of the Wars of the Roses.
There were moments I enjoyed in this book, which is why it gets two stars instead of one. I liked how the author explained the importance of a clandestine marriage; she explained in detail how vows made to another should never be taken lightly (and how in this time in history, vows made to each other in the eyes of God were unbreakable, even if one partner was a 12-year-old girl of the nobility, the other a man over half her age and way below her in social standing). I liked how hard Holland fought to make Joan his wife. I truly adored the character of Efa, the Welsh healer. She was the saving grace many times over when I thought Joan was getting a bit whiny. Before reading this I had just finished Elizabeth Chadwick's THE SUMMER QUEEN and I knew it would be hard to follow (as her novels always are). This book has already garnered lots of praise, and many more will like it, I have no doubt. I just like a little more meat in my historical fiction. But I do give kudos to the author for making people aware of Joan of Kent and her life. Maybe it'll spur them on to do a little research of their own and draw their own conclusions of that question Ms. Campion built her story upon. Thanks to authors of historical fiction these people, those we know of and those who were witnesses to history, will never truly die and I thank them for that. Happy reading!
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“A Triple Knot” by Emma Campion tells the story of Joan of Kent, and her three marriages.Read more