Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 622
Book Source: Borrowed from Alaine

Married to a king incompetent both on the throne and in bed, Emma does not love her husband. But she does love England. Even as her husband fails, Emma vows to protect her people-no matter what. For five decades, through love and loss, prosperity and exile, Emma fights for England, becoming the only woman to have been anointed, crowned, and reigning queen to two different kings, the mother of two more, and the great aunt of William the Conqueror.

Writers such as Helen Hollick really do breathe life into historical fiction, making it a joy for me to experience this previously little read era. With a lesser writer this could have been a disaster, but Helen Hollick takes a huge cast of characters and a complex, eventful period in history (1002 - 1042) and weaves an enthralling tale backed by meticulous research and insightful, convincing embellishment.

"Emma is the only woman to have been an anointed, crowned and reigning queen to two different Saxon Kings, yet she is barely known in history ...". (author's note)

I knew nothing of Emma prior to reading The Forever Queen. Daughter of Richard I of Normandy, married to King Aethelred of England at a tender age, re-married to Cnut, (pronounced K-noot) who became the Danish King of England after defeating Edmund Ironside (Aethelred's son) - phew ... complicated. Initially I was completely captivated by this strong young woman who endured a loveless marriage to a cruel, misogynistic husband & an ineffective King with dignity, who quickly grew to love England and become an astute & charismatic leader, who eventually found a mutual love and respect in her marriage to King Cnut. However, the forsaking of her children to foreign exile and subsequent actions, all stemming from a single-minded desire to retain her crown, somewhat lessened my admiration of this woman.

The Forever Queen has it all, a rich and descriptive tapestry of Anglo Saxon history, warring factions, political intrigue and betrayal, brutal violence, and yes, love. I had trouble putting this book down and considering the hefty size, what a credit to Helen Hollick's masterful storytelling. I’d recommend this book without hesitation to historical fiction buffs and I eagerly await the release of the follow up, The Chosen King (Harold the King) in March 2011.

Visit Helen Hollick's website to find out more about this talented author and her other work.

This month on The Eclectic Reader you can win a copy of Matched by Allie Condie, or Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead or The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick. Check this blog post for details. Open Internationally.


  1. Until this book came out I knew nothing of Emma either and especially about her being married to the two kings. Now to get to the book itself!

    Thanks for this review.

  2. I really can't wait to read this book, it's going to the top of my list for 2010.

  3. I do hope the next is just as good :)

  4. This looks absolutely fantastic and am excited to track a copy down to read! I love a good historical fiction story, especially lately!

  5. I won a copy of this book! Glad you liked it and can't wait to read it!

  6. I really learned a lot too and honestly didn't care for husband #1...looking forward to the next installment!

  7. Ooh, this sure sounds like a delicious read. I've make it my goal to read more Historical Fiction books in 2011, so I think this will definitely one of those deserve to be on my list!

    p.s. Do you have any other favourites? I'm currently looking for book recommendations under this genre, so if you can recommend me any, I would really appreciate it!

  8. This is the first review that has made me think I want to try ths tome!

  9. I had a hard job writing Forever Queen (in its UK edition - A Hollow Crown) because I too disliked Aethelred (husband #1) I admire Emma so much - she was a strong woman and a survivor: I'm so glad people are enjoying reading about her.

    Thank you so much for the fabulous review and lovely conmments!

    @SHY - try Elizabeth Chadwick!


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