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Set in late fourteenth century England, Vanora Bennett's rich, dramatic new novel presents an England uncannily like our own. The country is in turmoil, The King is in debt to the City, and the old order had broken down - a time of opportunity indeed, for those who can seize the moment. The king's mistress, Alice Perrers, becomes the virtual ruler of the country from his s Set in late fourteenth century England, Vanora Bennett's rich, dramatic new novel presents an England uncannily like our own. The country is in turmoil, The King is in debt to the City, and the old order had broken down - a time of opportunity indeed, for those who can seize the moment. The king's mistress, Alice Perrers, becomes the virtual ruler of the country from his sickbed. Disliked and despised by the Black Prince and his cronies, her strong connections to the merchants make her a natural ally for the king's ambitious second son, John of Gaunt. Together they create a powerful position in the city for one of his henchmen, Geoffrey Chaucer. In this moment of opportunity, Alice throws herself into her new role and the riches that lay before her, but Chaucer, even though her lover and friend, is uneasy over what he can foresee of the conspiracies around them. At the centre of these troubled times and political unrest stands the remarkable figure of a woman who, having escaped the plague which killed her whole family, is certain she is untouchable, and a man who learns that cleverness and ambition may for him sit too uneasily with decency and honesty.


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Set in late fourteenth century England, Vanora Bennett's rich, dramatic new novel presents an England uncannily like our own. The country is in turmoil, The King is in debt to the City, and the old order had broken down - a time of opportunity indeed, for those who can seize the moment. The king's mistress, Alice Perrers, becomes the virtual ruler of the country from his s Set in late fourteenth century England, Vanora Bennett's rich, dramatic new novel presents an England uncannily like our own. The country is in turmoil, The King is in debt to the City, and the old order had broken down - a time of opportunity indeed, for those who can seize the moment. The king's mistress, Alice Perrers, becomes the virtual ruler of the country from his sickbed. Disliked and despised by the Black Prince and his cronies, her strong connections to the merchants make her a natural ally for the king's ambitious second son, John of Gaunt. Together they create a powerful position in the city for one of his henchmen, Geoffrey Chaucer. In this moment of opportunity, Alice throws herself into her new role and the riches that lay before her, but Chaucer, even though her lover and friend, is uneasy over what he can foresee of the conspiracies around them. At the centre of these troubled times and political unrest stands the remarkable figure of a woman who, having escaped the plague which killed her whole family, is certain she is untouchable, and a man who learns that cleverness and ambition may for him sit too uneasily with decency and honesty.

30 review for The People's Queen

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Entertaining and different look at Alice Perrers, mistress to Edward III. The novel is also extensively about Geoffrey Chaucer and his life and Alice's intertwine to a strong degree. Indeed, the author wonders in her note if Chaucer's Wife of Bath is based on Alice P. This was a fascinating look into the fourteenth century and the down and dirty dealings of the London Merchant community at the time of the Peasant's Revolt. Alice herself is an interesting three-dimensional Essex girl. A combinati Entertaining and different look at Alice Perrers, mistress to Edward III. The novel is also extensively about Geoffrey Chaucer and his life and Alice's intertwine to a strong degree. Indeed, the author wonders in her note if Chaucer's Wife of Bath is based on Alice P. This was a fascinating look into the fourteenth century and the down and dirty dealings of the London Merchant community at the time of the Peasant's Revolt. Alice herself is an interesting three-dimensional Essex girl. A combination of tart with a heart,and fiercely shrewd and ruthless business woman. She is utterly three dimensional. It was interesting to see John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford in a different light. They are secondary characters (and very minor roles in Katherine's case) but rather differently rendered than in the Seton novel.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Moppet

    I'm very glad I didn't let the cover put me off reading this book. (I’m with those reviewers who think the model appears to be examining her train for doggy doo). The cover also gives a false impression of the book, suggesting that it is women’s historical fiction in the Philippa Gregory mould, whereas it is actually much closer to the Wolf Hall end of the spectrum. The ‘Queen’ of the title is Alice Perrers, mistress to the ageing Edward III. It’s established fairly early on that the people hate I'm very glad I didn't let the cover put me off reading this book. (I’m with those reviewers who think the model appears to be examining her train for doggy doo). The cover also gives a false impression of the book, suggesting that it is women’s historical fiction in the Philippa Gregory mould, whereas it is actually much closer to the Wolf Hall end of the spectrum. The ‘Queen’ of the title is Alice Perrers, mistress to the ageing Edward III. It’s established fairly early on that the people hate Alice, but she is their queen in the sense that she is of the people. Whereas the Alice Emma Campion portrayed in The King’s Mistress was the virginal daughter of a respectable merchant family, Bennett’s Alice has risen from the peasantry to the court via a Forever Amber-like series of escapades and marriages. (Although this is anything but a bodice ripper: sex scenes are few and not explicit). There's a vast gap between the Alice of The King’s Mistress (passive victim of events) and this Alice (manipulative social climber) - and while I don’t know enough about Alice and her world to say which is closer to the truth, I did find Bennett’s characterisation far more rounded and convincing. The People’s Queen covers seven years in Alice’s life: 1374 to 1381, year of the Peasants’ Revolt. The prologue is set during the Black Death, known as the Mortality, which claimed the lives of a third of Europe’s population. The book takes for its theme the Wheel of Fortune, and when it begins Alice is at the top of the wheel, feared and respected in both Court and City. So there’s nowhere to go but down. Alice’s fight to secure her future by exploiting the broken postwar economy is linked with the power struggle between Edward III’s sons, Geoffrey Chaucer’s marital misfortunes and the career of Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt. I enjoyed the voice despite the use of my unfavourite present tense and the profuse authorial narration. It’s very Victorian, but it worked for me because Vanora Bennett writes with such confidence and enthusiasm, whether describing the free-for-all that followed the Black Death or the peripatetic medieval court. The downside: although there is enough action to carry the book along, it could have been faster-paced. Occasionally it gets bogged down in detail, and the Chaucer scenes in particular don’t tend to move the story very far along. Katherine Swynford, mistress of John of Gaunt, appears, but only in a cameo role – I would have liked her point of view to have been added into the mix. I would also have liked dates at the top of each chapter and I would have liked the Author’s Note to have more discussion of the background to the story as well as an explanation of what happened after it ends. As historical fiction, this is a welcome blend of the literary and the popular. As a royal mistress novel, it’s the ideal answer to anyone who thinks the subject of royal mistresses belongs in a pink, frilly historical ghetto. Bennett’s Alice is the first power mistress, socially mobile, a property tycoon, a symbol of her grasping, ambitious age, who would be broken on the wheel of fortune for her sex and her class as much as for her corruption.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rio (Lynne)

    As much as I tried....I'm yielding at page 90. I really wanted to like and read this. Few book are out there about Chaucer, London Merchant Trade and the Peasant's Revolt. This is my second Bennett "did not finish" her writing style is blah blah.......blah. Such a shame, because this is a fascinating subject. As much as I tried....I'm yielding at page 90. I really wanted to like and read this. Few book are out there about Chaucer, London Merchant Trade and the Peasant's Revolt. This is my second Bennett "did not finish" her writing style is blah blah.......blah. Such a shame, because this is a fascinating subject.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    It's hard to explain why I struggled with this book. The historical period is interesting, Alice Perrers is a good base for a story, but this is very hard going. There is so much description of how the characters are feeling, so very little conversation. A lot of dry background and not much to get you emphasising with the characters. I got sick of the phrase, 'It's only then'. It's only then that he/she thinks/feels/realises/understands. If you'd like to read a historical fiction based on Alice It's hard to explain why I struggled with this book. The historical period is interesting, Alice Perrers is a good base for a story, but this is very hard going. There is so much description of how the characters are feeling, so very little conversation. A lot of dry background and not much to get you emphasising with the characters. I got sick of the phrase, 'It's only then'. It's only then that he/she thinks/feels/realises/understands. If you'd like to read a historical fiction based on Alice Perrers, Emma Campion's 'The King's Mistress' beats this hands down.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mardi

    It took me a while to get through this one. A great period in history. Set in the time of Edward III. The story follows the life of Edward’s mistress, Alice Perrers - a feisty, manipulative, greedy and cunning woman. I saw the demise of King Edward III, the rise of King Richard II and the shear hatred for the Duke of Lancaster (John - King Edward’s son). The underdog’s revolt was horrific and nearly toppled London. But above all, my hero of the story was Geoffrey Chaucer, a brilliant gentle soul It took me a while to get through this one. A great period in history. Set in the time of Edward III. The story follows the life of Edward’s mistress, Alice Perrers - a feisty, manipulative, greedy and cunning woman. I saw the demise of King Edward III, the rise of King Richard II and the shear hatred for the Duke of Lancaster (John - King Edward’s son). The underdog’s revolt was horrific and nearly toppled London. But above all, my hero of the story was Geoffrey Chaucer, a brilliant gentle soul. 3/5

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘She’s never been one for yesterdays.’ Alice Perrers, the ‘Queen’ of this title is mistress to the ageing English King Edward III. In this novel, she is portrayed as being one of the people – a peasant – who has risen to great heights and made many enemies along the way. After a prologue set during the Black Death, the novel proper opens, with Alice at the height of her powers – fully atop the Wheel of Fortune. Where to from here? Alice is beginning to realise that she needs to secure her future: ‘She’s never been one for yesterdays.’ Alice Perrers, the ‘Queen’ of this title is mistress to the ageing English King Edward III. In this novel, she is portrayed as being one of the people – a peasant – who has risen to great heights and made many enemies along the way. After a prologue set during the Black Death, the novel proper opens, with Alice at the height of her powers – fully atop the Wheel of Fortune. Where to from here? Alice is beginning to realise that she needs to secure her future: Edward III has been an indulgent protector and benefactor but he cannot live much longer. And there are signs that both Parliament and the City of London have enough power to insist on a greater role in running England in future. The war with France has been costly and increasingly more difficult to fund. The King’s heir is dying, and his successor is a boy. As Alice amasses property for her future, she keeps a keen eye on the power struggle between Edward III’s sons: the dying Edward the Black Prince (his heir) and his brother John of Gaunt. She is also a patron of Geoffrey Chaucer, then Comptroller of export tax on wool, sheepskins and leather in the Port of London, and shares aspects of a past with Wat Tyler (who will later be leader of the Peasants’ Revolt). ‘Alice Perrers is not invited to the King’s funeral.’ Without the King to protect her, Alice’s life takes some interesting turns. She moves from the Court to a safe manor house, to a place of safety or so she hopes. But Fortune’s wheel has not yet finished turning: Alice, her family and friends have yet to endure the Peasants’ Revolt. ‘The day and the night that follow are the time of the Beast.’ ‘The People’s Queen’ covers seven years of Alice’s life: from 1374 to 1381 (the year of the Peasants’ Revolt) and is mainly told in present tense. It took me a while to become caught up in the story, but once I was I couldn’t put it down. Present tense, with dashes of authorial narration kept this story moving. I am intrigued by Alice Perrers and am in the process of reading three novels about her. Each is very different and while I’m not yet sure which Alice I prefer best, I found this depiction engrossing. I especially enjoyed the depiction of Geoffrey Chaucer. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emelie

    Not engaging. I let the book rest for a while to see if it would grab my attention back, if the lust and need to read and finish it would come. But it didn't. Cold, unpersonal writing style. I didn't care at all what happened or about the characters. I didn't like all the () with the extra information, but it seemed that she was well knowledgeable at least (?). Might give it a go another time, we'll see. Not engaging. I let the book rest for a while to see if it would grab my attention back, if the lust and need to read and finish it would come. But it didn't. Cold, unpersonal writing style. I didn't care at all what happened or about the characters. I didn't like all the () with the extra information, but it seemed that she was well knowledgeable at least (?). Might give it a go another time, we'll see.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    It was interesting reading about Alice Perres, not much is written about her in historical fiction. The book however moved at a slow pace and at times I lost interest in the story. Chaucer is another figure that you often hear about but don't know much about the man himself. The story line was good but at times you kept waiting for the author to get to the point. It was interesting reading about Alice Perres, not much is written about her in historical fiction. The book however moved at a slow pace and at times I lost interest in the story. Chaucer is another figure that you often hear about but don't know much about the man himself. The story line was good but at times you kept waiting for the author to get to the point.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karolina

    I tried, I really did... I tried, I really did...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    Alice Perrers. . . Who was she? Ugly or pretty? Grasping and without conscience or considerate of others? A mistress of royalty who only used her status for se3lf advancement? Or. . . .? There is not so much know about her life, making it difficult to speak in much detail about her. Oddly, in this novel, she works at counterpoint with John of Gaunt's mistress (and later wife), Katherine Swynford--about whom rather little is known. In this novel, Swynford is portrayed as rather nasty (I have read Alice Perrers. . . Who was she? Ugly or pretty? Grasping and without conscience or considerate of others? A mistress of royalty who only used her status for se3lf advancement? Or. . . .? There is not so much know about her life, making it difficult to speak in much detail about her. Oddly, in this novel, she works at counterpoint with John of Gaunt's mistress (and later wife), Katherine Swynford--about whom rather little is known. In this novel, Swynford is portrayed as rather nasty (I have read other books where she is portrayed much more positively). Perrers was born in difficult circumstances and braised by a hard nosed woman who did most anything needed to get ahead. By good fortune, Alice ended yup as Henry III's mistress. From this position, she exerted considerable influence and gained many estates and much money. This book looks at the jealousies directed against her, how her own behavior fanned opposition to her, how she fell from the heights, and how she began an ascent once more. During the course of this novel, we meet historical figures such as Geoffrey Chaucer (Was Alice the Wife of Bath in "The Canterbury Tails"? That is a suggestion in this work.), John of Gaunt, Richard II, and so on. How accurate is this work? I cannot say. There is so little on the historical record. Nonetheless, it is a fine piece of historical fiction.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angela Moore Garden Tea Cakes and Me

    Set during the 14th century after the plague, this story revolves around Alice Perrers mistress to the ageing King Edward III. How does a girl with no money and no status find herself a place as a lady in the royal court. Other major characters include John of Gaunt and Geoffrey Chaucer and how Alice tries to influence both men to gain status and money. Can she hide her past from those who would use it against her. A theme of the book looks at how a common symbol of the time, the 'wheel of fortu Set during the 14th century after the plague, this story revolves around Alice Perrers mistress to the ageing King Edward III. How does a girl with no money and no status find herself a place as a lady in the royal court. Other major characters include John of Gaunt and Geoffrey Chaucer and how Alice tries to influence both men to gain status and money. Can she hide her past from those who would use it against her. A theme of the book looks at how a common symbol of the time, the 'wheel of fortune' is used to dictate the ups and downs of peoples power and success. The book is split into sections of the wheel, rising to the top, to back down to the bottom. This was a fascinating read, with much detail about the royal court, merchants of London and parliament of the time. The book is 533 pages, I enjoyed the beginning and end but 300 pages in it bored me a smidge one of the reasons I gave the book 3 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    The People's Queen is far from your average royal mistress story, and Alice Perrers is unlike any royal mistress I've read about before. Business-savy, independent, and power hungry, she rides fortune's wheel for all it's worth. The novel focuses on Alice's fall from the heights of power, even as her friendship with Chaucer deepens and discontent builds among the common people, eventually boiling over into violence. At well over 500 pages, The People's Queen is not a particularly fast read. Even s The People's Queen is far from your average royal mistress story, and Alice Perrers is unlike any royal mistress I've read about before. Business-savy, independent, and power hungry, she rides fortune's wheel for all it's worth. The novel focuses on Alice's fall from the heights of power, even as her friendship with Chaucer deepens and discontent builds among the common people, eventually boiling over into violence. At well over 500 pages, The People's Queen is not a particularly fast read. Even so, it's a really interesting look at a strong woman who had--and lost--it all in 14th century England. 2017 Reading Challenge Category: A book with an eccentric character. (I'm counting Alice as eccentric, as far as royal mistresses go, in the sense that she is unusual/unconventional for her undisguised, unambiguous ambition and greed.)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lesezeichen

    Well I had a kind of love-hate relationship with this book. The plot was very interesting, the historical background fascinating and the characters well rounded but there was something about the style that bugged me. First of all, I don't like present tense narration much. And the syntax is a bit on the simplistic side, resulting in a kind of "staccato rhythm". And finally the author was too present telling the reader how to judge a certain event rather than letting the characters speak for them Well I had a kind of love-hate relationship with this book. The plot was very interesting, the historical background fascinating and the characters well rounded but there was something about the style that bugged me. First of all, I don't like present tense narration much. And the syntax is a bit on the simplistic side, resulting in a kind of "staccato rhythm". And finally the author was too present telling the reader how to judge a certain event rather than letting the characters speak for themselves. But having said that most of the time I was so engrossed in the story that I ended up forgetting about all those niggles. And I think I have learnt a lot about the period and the characters in question. In spite of its flaws I would recommend this book. (3,5)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Alice Perrers became infamous as Edward III’s selfish, greedy mistress who stole the rings off his fingers as he laid dying. Three novels about her life were published between 2009 and 2012, Emma Campion’s The King's Mistress, Anne O’Brien’s The King's Concubine and this, Vanora Bennett’s The People’s Queen. I was initially very cautious about reading this. Having previously read Campion and O’Brien’s novels, I found myself frustrated by the choice of Alice as a protagonist. She’s a fascinating Alice Perrers became infamous as Edward III’s selfish, greedy mistress who stole the rings off his fingers as he laid dying. Three novels about her life were published between 2009 and 2012, Emma Campion’s The King's Mistress, Anne O’Brien’s The King's Concubine and this, Vanora Bennett’s The People’s Queen. I was initially very cautious about reading this. Having previously read Campion and O’Brien’s novels, I found myself frustrated by the choice of Alice as a protagonist. She’s a fascinating choice for a protagonist, a complex and powerful woman whose rise to power was and is astonishing and her story lends itself well to the type of novels that seek out to redeem the “villains” or “bad women” of history. Yet Campion and O’Brien both depicted her as an innocent, agency-less, faultless, sweet baby angel of a woman who is just endlessly victimised and conspired against. Which I found both implausible and nauseatingly saccharine. And then there was the author of The People’s Queen. This is the first novel by Vanora Bennett I’ve read but I’ve been aware of her for some time and read the bad reviews for this, Blood Royal and Figures In Silk. And then I reread the description and, hold up, Alice Perrers has an affair with Geoffrey Chaucer? What? And then, yeah, I’ve been a bit burnt out on the women-centric historical fiction of the early 2010s, late 2000s – the type typified by Philippa Gregory’s novels about the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses or that can be generally described as “historical romance but superficially feminist/deep because the women are scheming for power too”. The People’s Queen also seemed to point towards the way: the beautiful but generic cover and its title. Alice Perrers may have been of “the people” instead of the nobility but she was no champion of the less fortunate or beloved by the people – if someone who was, look no further than Edward IV’s mistress, Elizabeth “Jane” Shore. But I already bought a copy and I read a more positive review that intrigued me, I dove in. And you know what? I really loved this. I can see why people could bounce off this. If you pick this up expecting something more light like a Philippa Gregory or Anne O’Brien novel, you’re in for a rude awakening. Bennett’s Alice is flawed. Massively flawed and yet – for me, at least – still fascinating and sympathetic. It isn’t one of those characterisations where you sit there and cringe at the bratty heroine that you’re somehow expected to like. This Alice is clever, greedy, corrupt, not particularly romantic or maternal and definitely in over her head, and yet I loved her. I loved reading about her. Nor is this the typical story of Alice, traced from her birth to the beginnings of her affair with Edward III and then to its end with Alice’s downfall and focusing mainly on her romantic/sexual life. One of my complaints for O’Brien’s novel was that Alice felt insulated, as if she never did anything but hang around Edward III or her husband but Bennett sprints off in the opposite direction. This is more about the political and financial aspects of Alice’s life – her acquisitiveness, for instance – than the romantic. We begin with Alice’s parade as the Lady of the Sun, firmly ensconced as the rapidly ailing Edward III’s mistress, and focus on her downfall and what she becomes after Edward. Not once does she protest that she had “no choice” and not once does she say she loves Edward. This is much more a novel about the political intrigue at the end of Edward III’s reigns and beginning of Richard II’s than a romance or a redemption. The writing style, too, might make readers bounce – this is definitely more on the “literary” side of things, with some jarringly modern twangs. One of the reviews I read compared it to Hilary Mantel and I don’t think Bennett is as good as Mantel (certainly, there were no lines of prose that I wanted to frame) but it’s more along that line than readers might expect. The novel is written in third person limited, present tense and although we mainly see the world through the eyes of Alice and Chaucer, we also get glimpses into the minds of John of Gaunt, the Black Prince and Joan of Kent. So that when Alice sneers at Joan, for instance, we see Joan through her own and others’ eyes and see her so much more sympathetically. I wish some time had been given to the de Roet sisters, Katherine Swynford and Philippa Chaucer, who do get quite the short shift in the novel but I was also happy to let it be – there are suggestions of a sympathetic reading for them too. Bennett, I think, achieves something that I’ve found rare in historical fiction: these historical figures are rendered as rounded characters, fascinating and intriguing in their own right to the point that even when I’m like, “an affair with Chaucer? That’s really weird and Do Not Want” it makes sense within the narrative and with the characterisations Bennett’s given them. The world she creates is beautiful and rich and while I’m still uncertain about reading her other medieval novels, I’m happy to say that I loved this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Iola

    I have never liked books that were written in the present tense, and this one is no exception. Combine that with an unlikeable, self-centred and greedy heroine, a nondescript hero (Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the greats of English literture, yet this book makes him seem like a total nonentity), and you don't have a good book. I have never liked books that were written in the present tense, and this one is no exception. Combine that with an unlikeable, self-centred and greedy heroine, a nondescript hero (Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the greats of English literture, yet this book makes him seem like a total nonentity), and you don't have a good book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    It is supposed to be based in truth but there are a lot of assumptions made that are too wild. One or two I could except but not this many. And who is the people's queen? It can't be Alice. In her own time she wasn't loved and she would never have gotten this title. Also the style of writing was not something that appealed to me. It is supposed to be based in truth but there are a lot of assumptions made that are too wild. One or two I could except but not this many. And who is the people's queen? It can't be Alice. In her own time she wasn't loved and she would never have gotten this title. Also the style of writing was not something that appealed to me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    A fascinating time period, but the main character Alice was completely unlikable and I lost interest in the story rather quickly...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sally O'wheel

    I loved this book. All the negative reviews were off putting at first but, in fact, the more I listened to it the more I loved it. I had read the Penguin Monarch's Edward III which was pretty incomprehensible to me so this book really gave me the goods. I loved Alice, feisty and self motivated. She had had a hard start in life and she got over it and got busy, improving her circumstances remarkably. I did wonder, of course, how much was based on fact and how much of fiction but always found the I loved this book. All the negative reviews were off putting at first but, in fact, the more I listened to it the more I loved it. I had read the Penguin Monarch's Edward III which was pretty incomprehensible to me so this book really gave me the goods. I loved Alice, feisty and self motivated. She had had a hard start in life and she got over it and got busy, improving her circumstances remarkably. I did wonder, of course, how much was based on fact and how much of fiction but always found the story credible. And I'm a hard master on that score. Alice grew as a character and so did Chaucer. A frustrating relationship but you get that. It was realistic. Thoroughly recommend this book for any historical novel tragics.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Really enjoyed this as a follow up to having read Jean Plaidy’s ‘Passage to Pontefract’ and Shakespeare’s Richard ll. Interesting to get the variety of viewpoints about this time in history from different authors focussing on different characters. Loved reading about Chaucer and his involvement in politics and the dramas of the times. One reason I love historical fiction is that it makes me more philosophical about the dire state of politics today - history shows us that not much changes...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Teri Peterson

    3.5. It’s quite a bit denser/slower going l than most historical fiction that I read, but the story is compelling enough. I can’t decide if the portrayal of Chaucer as simultaneously diplomatically intelligent and emotionally unintelligent can be right...but overall this has all the usual courtly intrigue, strong women, different angles on a historical event, etc, that I enjoy in a princess book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alice Brewer

    #52books2018 number 35: The People's Queen by Vanora Bennett. I knew nothing about Alice Perrers (or her influence on/friendship with Chaucer) before reading this so very informative. Ultimately, however, a bit slow. Didn't grab me the way historical novels usually do. #52books2018 number 35: The People's Queen by Vanora Bennett. I knew nothing about Alice Perrers (or her influence on/friendship with Chaucer) before reading this so very informative. Ultimately, however, a bit slow. Didn't grab me the way historical novels usually do.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    An easy, simple, pleasant read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jane Glen

    Read all the way to 120 pages and I had to give it up. Just boring- and as a rule, I love historical fiction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jean Sharp

    Extremely slow start 🐌 worth persevering with

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fuzah

    An interesting read, 3.5 rating, where the characters are based on real historical figures of the 14th century. It starts off slow, a bit boring, but it'll get better the more you read. A how-to-survive guide to 14th century living. Also on certain aspects of 14th century life such as the widespread of corruption, power struggles and skirmishes over the throne, and also marriages back during those times. However, when I picked up this book, I did have some expectations of that particular century An interesting read, 3.5 rating, where the characters are based on real historical figures of the 14th century. It starts off slow, a bit boring, but it'll get better the more you read. A how-to-survive guide to 14th century living. Also on certain aspects of 14th century life such as the widespread of corruption, power struggles and skirmishes over the throne, and also marriages back during those times. However, when I picked up this book, I did have some expectations of that particular century life that I never did find: the role of women in the society and the extent of the power of the church, which makes it a slightly disappointing read. Especially when you're studying The Wife of Bath and are expected to look out for this kind of things (The reason why I picked up this book is because I saw Geoffrey Chaucer at the back of the book and the relation it have on the WoB). But still, don't let it discourage you, there are other things that I like about this book. Alice Perrers, a commoner by birth but with her sharp wit and intelligence, bravery, and greed, manages to attain a high rank among the nobles: Edward III's mistress and perhaps, yes, a "Queen" of sorts, as she does in certain way, behaves as if she is the Queen. But no, she's not evil, really. Just ambitious.The novel tells mainly about the not-so-easy life she leads in the court and also how she carries out her plans to secure her future of court life after the old King dies as she knows that she will lose her power after his death. However, things takes an unexpected turn as her plans falls apart and the truth about her other life, a locked up secret that only a few are aware of spreads around. Personally, I think that it isn't an easy thing to write a story based closely on a historical figure and following the timeline of historically recorded events around them and yet, retaining a certain original perception about them. But what about several? There are at least 4 characters that are focused on, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancanster and his father Edward III. And of course Alice Perrers and Geoffrey Chaucer. Vanora Bennett's ability to pull this off makes this a well researched, interesting read especially since there are a lot of speculations going around about that character.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kayleigh

    I borrowed this book from my Mum a while ago and it has sat on my bookshelf unread for about 2 years. Having read another of Bennett's books, I thought I'd give this one a go over the Easter holidays. The book is about Alice Perrers, mistress of King Edward III back in the 1300s. It is a time I don't know a lot about and I have to say after this book I probably won't be investigating much further. There is a huge and confusing range of characters and the book is quite difficult to read. Even at t I borrowed this book from my Mum a while ago and it has sat on my bookshelf unread for about 2 years. Having read another of Bennett's books, I thought I'd give this one a go over the Easter holidays. The book is about Alice Perrers, mistress of King Edward III back in the 1300s. It is a time I don't know a lot about and I have to say after this book I probably won't be investigating much further. There is a huge and confusing range of characters and the book is quite difficult to read. Even at the end of the 500+ pages, I was still having to check people out on Wikipedia so I could get the cast straight in my head. Everyone was called Edward or John and it was a bit baffling, certainly at the start of the book. Alice presumably, is the People's Queen but there is no evidence of this throughout the book. She is mistress of the King and for a huge part of the book, hated by many people in London and surrounding areas. The book tells the story of the Peasant's Revolt, partly due to Alice's deception and dealings with Chaucer and various other London merchants. The book is written weirdly, the sentences are long and rambley with lots of punctuation and I actually found myself having to re-read sentences on more than one occasion because I simply hadn't understood them. It has been a long time since that has been the case with a book I have read. From reading other reviews, many people have the same opinion as me, I probably won't be seeking out any more of Bennett's books just yet.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Every so often you read a book that you find hard to rate, and The People's Queen for me is one such book. I found the beginning uninspiring and it took me a few days to get into the book. About half way through though, I found the novel becoming more and more involving. The novel tells the story of Alice Perrers, mistress of King Edward III, and her fall from power. Along the way we meet a host of other characters from history such as Wat Tyler and the de Roet sisters. Any book giving Chaucer a Every so often you read a book that you find hard to rate, and The People's Queen for me is one such book. I found the beginning uninspiring and it took me a few days to get into the book. About half way through though, I found the novel becoming more and more involving. The novel tells the story of Alice Perrers, mistress of King Edward III, and her fall from power. Along the way we meet a host of other characters from history such as Wat Tyler and the de Roet sisters. Any book giving Chaucer a leading role is likely to make me want to read it. Here all the major characters are well drawn. You may not always like them (especially Alice), but Vanora Bennett makes them act and behave in a convincing fashion. What I really liked about the novel was that if offered something just a little bit different. Yes, the court is featured, but so to is the world of the London merchants and the grievances of the "peasants" in 1381 are treated in a believable way. As a keen fan of Anya Seton's Katherine, it was a treat to see some of the events in that novel from a different point of view. However, the book could easily have been shortened. The end is considerably better than the beginning. I think this is a 3.5 that I am going to round up because I will probably reread it one day, she has clearly done alot of research into the period and because I liked it better than the other Vanora Bennett I have read, which I rated a 3. (Blood Roysl).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Éowyn

    I'm assuming that The People's Queen of the title is Alice Perrers, one time mistress of Edward III and the main narrative character of the novel, but even having finished the book I can't really see how this title fits; Alice isn't a woman who goes out of her way to make friends with people, but is certainly a woman with plenty of enemies! She's thoroughly disliked by nobels and commoners alike. Usually with a major character you expect that the author will present them in such a way that you en I'm assuming that The People's Queen of the title is Alice Perrers, one time mistress of Edward III and the main narrative character of the novel, but even having finished the book I can't really see how this title fits; Alice isn't a woman who goes out of her way to make friends with people, but is certainly a woman with plenty of enemies! She's thoroughly disliked by nobels and commoners alike. Usually with a major character you expect that the author will present them in such a way that you end up with some sympathy for them or hoping things are going to go their way. I didn't really get this with the way Alice is portrayed in this book; I'm not sure if Bennett wanted us to like her or not? Yes, it was a tough time to live, particularly if you were a woman who had to look out for herself, but Alice comes across as greedy, unscrupulous and immoral. In fact the entire 'cast' of the novel are a pretty unsympathetic bunch, with the noteable exception of Geoffrey Chaucer. Overall, while not a bad book it's not a great one either. It's over 500 pages long and really it could have been cut down a fair bit - I did some speed reading over quite a few passages where it got a little tedious. The narrative is also in the present tense which I found a little odd and I'm afraid I still remain unconvinced by.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I tried to finish this book but I was unable to get through it. Surprisingly it took 20 pages to realize what was bugging me; it was the writing style. I read the first 101 pages and I just could not ignore it. My main problems were tenses, the author could not decide what tense she wanted to write in; past or present. It was really frustrating because she would start a paragraph off using present and by the end of the paragraph she was writing in past tense. Also, she wrote in third person. For I tried to finish this book but I was unable to get through it. Surprisingly it took 20 pages to realize what was bugging me; it was the writing style. I read the first 101 pages and I just could not ignore it. My main problems were tenses, the author could not decide what tense she wanted to write in; past or present. It was really frustrating because she would start a paragraph off using present and by the end of the paragraph she was writing in past tense. Also, she wrote in third person. For example, she would write Alice thought it was nice out today or Alice had decided to talk to the king. These sections were in Alice's point of view and the author thinks that she thinks of herself as Alice not as I (ex. I think it is nice out today or I am going to talk to the king). This bugged me because like the tenses she switched back and forth; also all the characters thought like this it was not just Alice. Finally, I did not like how the dialogue was set up in this novel. Generally when a person is speaking in a novel a new paragraph starts. This was not the case in The People's Queen, it really bugged me. I felt that it had grammatical errors because of this, there did not seem to be proper quotation marks. I however felt that if these things did not bug me so much I might have been able to finish the book and might have given it a more positive review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I had read "The Queen's Lover" by the same author earlier and although I prefer buying my books on Kindle now I decided to buy this in paperback because that was the only option (there may have been an audiobook). I'm so glad I did. Most books about Alice Perrers portray her very negatively. (The other book I've read was The King's Concubine... by Anne O'Brien.) Was this because she was a woman taking power and land in a man's world? I think so yes. Much has been said about women in history taki I had read "The Queen's Lover" by the same author earlier and although I prefer buying my books on Kindle now I decided to buy this in paperback because that was the only option (there may have been an audiobook). I'm so glad I did. Most books about Alice Perrers portray her very negatively. (The other book I've read was The King's Concubine... by Anne O'Brien.) Was this because she was a woman taking power and land in a man's world? I think so yes. Much has been said about women in history taking power and riches for their own. She-wolves, selfish, hungry for power and influence. Say this about a man and he is a confident leader, taking what is his, and a Kingmaker. I was happy to read this historical fiction account of her life and what she may or may not have been thinking. She loved a king when others would have set him aside. Alice knew she wouldn't be in high favor forever and tried to provide for herself. Isn't that what anyone would do? The People's Queen is a great account of a woman with wit, smarts, and finesse get what she wanted by working for it and ending up losing most of it because she was the scapegoat for everyone whose power was still intact after the king's death.

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