Many know the story of the most beautiful woman in the land, Joan of Kent marrying Edward, the Black Prince. The two were cousins, childhood friends, and incredibly besotted with one another. He was the dangerously alluring prince and she was the fair Maid of Kent. Many do not realize that there were two marriages prior to Joan's marriage to Prince Edward. These marriages involved secrets, politics, annulments, and a whole lot of drama! In "A Triple Knot" by Emma Campion, Joan's three marriages with three different men are explored.
The novel follows Joan of Kent in the marriage game. A cousin of King Edward III of England, she is the prime candidate for a marriage that will be a political move for the king. Joan, still heartbroken by her father's execution and wanting to marry where her heart follows dreads the suitor King Edward has in mind. She finds herself protected by the handsome and gallant knight Thomas Holland. They pledge themselves to one another and consummate their love, but is it really a valid marriage? Thomas goes to serve for King Edward while Joan returns to England and finds her family marrying her off to William de Montacute whom she has no love for. Thomas returns to find his wife married to someone else. Desperately in love with one another, Thomas and Joan risk the King of England's wrath and petition the Pope to recognize their marriage and annul her marriage to William. During all this, Joan's cousin Edward, the Black Prince surrounds them dangerously in love with Joan and willing to win her at all costs. This is the story of Joan of Kent and the three men she would marry and that would define her life.
"A Triple Knot" is a solid historical fiction novel. It is always interesting to read about Joan of Kent. She was a relative of King Edward III of England, the mother of King Richard II of England, and had three very different marriages. It is always nice to see her portrayed in historical fiction. The problem is that Joan comes off so flat and dull in this novel. She's the typical "Mary Sue" character with nothing interesting or special about her. She is beautiful, of royal blood, and men love her, that is the extent of her characterization. She has no flaws and is not very complex or well-rounded. The real Joan was definitely more interesting than this flat portrayal.
It is the men in Joan's life that stand out more. Thomas Holland is handsome, alluring, and so desperately loyal and lovely. William de Montacute is awkward, strange, and cruel. Edward, the Black Prince is sexy and dangerous, but also controlling and difficult. These men are so much more interesting than the woman they are all fighting over.
Campion does do a nice job of capturing the time period and the famous faces during the time period. King Edward is ruthless and power hungry. Queen Philippa comes off kind, but also cautious. Even Isabella, the She-Wolf of France makes a delightful appearance of being her usual cold and temperamental self.
"A Triple Knot" has potential, but suffers from a bland heroine. With a more captivating and interesting Joan, this novel could have been a wonderful read and a special addition to the world of historical fiction. Joan and this book deserved just a little bit more spark.
To purchase "A Triple Knot": http://www.amazon.com/A-Triple-Knot-Novel/dp/0307589293
For more information on Emma Campion: http://emmacampion.com/