The Forbidden Queen

Praise for the author

ANNE

O’BRIEN

‘The characters are larger than life…and the author

a compulsive storyteller. A little fictional embroidery

has been worked into history but the bones of the

book are true.’

—Sunday Express

‘O’Brien has excellent control over the historical

material and a rich sense of characterisation, making

for a fascinating and surprisingly female-focused look

at one of the most turbulent periods of English history.’

—Publishers Weekly

‘Better than Philippa Gregory’

—The Bookseller

‘Anne O’Brien is fast becoming one of Britain’s most

popular and talented writers of medieval novels. Her

in-depth knowledge and silky skills with the pen help

to bring the past to life and put the focus firmly on

some of history’s most fascinating characters.’

—Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post

‘Anne O’Brien is definitely an author to watch for

historical fiction fans and I look forward to

reading more of her work in the future.’

—One More Page…

‘Ms O’Brien’s prose is smooth and uncomplicated.

Her characters’ speech is not overburdened with

archaic expressions, yet still evokes the time period.

She has obviously done a good deal of research and it

makes this story pleasurable to someone like myself,

who loves all things medieval…’

—Cynthia Robertson, Literarydaze

Praise for the author

ANNE

O’BRIEN

‘The characters are larger than life…and the author

a compulsive storyteller. A little fictional embroidery

has been worked into history but the bones of the

book are true.’

—Sunday Express

‘O’Brien has excellent control over the historical

material and a rich sense of characterisation, making

for a fascinating and surprisingly female-focused look

at one of the most turbulent periods of English history.’

—Publishers Weekly

‘Better than Philippa Gregory’

—The Bookseller

‘Anne O’Brien is fast becoming one of Britain’s most

popular and talented writers of medieval novels. Her

in-depth knowledge and silky skills with the pen help

to bring the past to life and put the focus firmly on

some of history’s most fascinating characters.’

—Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post

‘Anne O’Brien is definitely an author to watch for

historical fiction fans and I look forward to

reading more of her work in the future.’

—One More Page…

‘Ms O’Brien’s prose is smooth and uncomplicated.

Her characters’ speech is not overburdened with

archaic expressions, yet still evokes the time period.

She has obviously done a good deal of research and it

makes this story pleasurable to someone like myself,

who loves all things medieval…’

—Cynthia Robertson, Literarydaze

Also by

ANNE

O’BRIEN

VIRGIN WIDOW

DEVIL’S CONSORT

THE KING’S CONCUBINE

Also by

ANNE

O’BRIEN

VIRGIN WIDOW

DEVIL’S CONSORT

THE KING’S CONCUBINE

About the Author

ANNE O’BRIEN taught history in the East Riding of Yorkshire before deciding to fulfil an ambition to write historical fiction. She now lives in an eighteenth-century timbered cottage with her husband in the Welsh Marches, a wild, beautiful place renowned for its black-and-white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds, as well as ghosts and folklore, the Marches provide inspiration for her interest in medieval England.

Visit her at www.anneobrienbooks.com

About the Author

ANNE O’BRIEN taught history in the East Riding of Yorkshire before deciding to fulfil an ambition to write historical fiction. She now lives in an eighteenth-century timbered cottage with her husband in the Welsh Marches, a wild, beautiful place renowned for its black-and-white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds, as well as ghosts and folklore, the Marches provide inspiration for her interest in medieval England.

Visit her at www.anneobrienbooks.com

The

Forbidden

Queen

Anne O’Brien

www.mirabooks.co.uk

The

Forbidden

Queen

Anne O’Brien

www.mirabooks.co.uk

To George, as ever, whose knowledge of English

medieval history is improving in leaps and bounds

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

All my thanks to my agent, Jane Judd, whose support for me

and the courageous women of the Middle Ages continues

to be invaluable.

To Jenny Hutton and all the staff at MIRA, without whose

guidance and commitment the real Katherine de Valois

would never have emerged from the mists of the past.

To Helen Bowden and all at Orphans Press without whom

my website would not exist, and who come to my rescue to

create professional masterpieces out of my genealogy

and maps.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

All my thanks to my agent, Jane Judd, whose support for me

and the courageous women of the Middle Ages continues

to be invaluable.

To Jenny Hutton and all the staff at MIRA, without whose

guidance and commitment the real Katherine de Valois

would never have emerged from the mists of the past.

To Helen Bowden and all at Orphans Press without whom

my website would not exist, and who come to my rescue to

create professional masterpieces out of my genealogy

and maps.

‘You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate.’

King Henry to Katherine: Shakespeare’s Henry V

‘[a woman] unable to curb fully her carnal passions’

Contemporary comment on Katherine de Valois: J. A.

Giles, ed., Incerti scriptoris chronicon Angliae de regnis

trium regum Lancastrensium (1848)

CHAPTER ONE

It was in the Hôtel de St Pol in Paris, where I was born, that I chased my sister through the rooms of the palace, shrieking like some demented creature in torment. Michelle ran, agile as a hare pursued by a pack of hounds, and because of her advantage of years I was not catching her. She leapt up the great staircase and along a deserted gallery into an antechamber, where she tried to slam the door against me. There was no one to witness our clamorous, unedifying rampage.

I flung back the heavy door so that it crashed against the wall. My breath was short, my side clenched with pain, but my belly was so empty that I would not surrender. I pounded in my sister’s wake, triumphant when I heard Michelle whimpering in distress as her feet slid and she cannoned into the corner of a vast oak press set against the wall. From there she lurched into yet another audience chamber, and I howled with imminent victory. There was no way out from that carved and gilded room. I had her. Or, more importantly, I would have what she gripped in her hand.

And there she was, standing at bay, eyes blazing, teeth bared.

‘Share it!’ I demanded.

When, despite her laboured breathing, she stuffed a piece of bread into her mouth, I sprang at her, and we fell to the floor to roll in a tangle of foul skirts, unwashed legs and greasy, unbraided hair. Teeth and nails were applied indiscriminately, sharp elbows coming into play until, ploughing my fist into Michelle’s belly with all my five-year-old weight, I snatched the prize from her. A stale crust and a charred bone of some unidentifiable animal that she had filched from the kitchens when the cook’s back was turned. Scrambling up, I backed away, cramming the hard bread into my mouth, sinking my teeth into the flesh on the bone, my belly rumbling. I turned from the fury in her face to flee back the way we had come.

‘What’s this?’

Despite the mild query, it was a voice of authority who spoke. I pulled up short because my way was barred, yet I would still have fled except that Michelle had crept to my side. In our terrible preoccupation we had not heard the approach, and my heart was hammering so loudly in my ears that I was all but deafened. And there, beating against my temples, was the l ...

Быстрая навигация назад: Ctrl+←, вперед Ctrl+→