As I’ve gone about feeding my obsession for collecting older out of print historical fiction books, I’ve managed to acquire quite a few. But recently I’ve realized how many of them I still haven’t read as they’ve been pushed aside in favor of more recent releases and so I decided to make a concentrated effort to change that. And although I’m sure most will pale in comparison to the Penmans and Chadwicks of today and some will be downright horrible, finding out what's behind some of those cheesy covers is part of the fun!
The Black Plantaganet (sic) is one of the few books focused on the eldest son of Edward III, Edward, the so-called Black Prince. Published in 1969, the book covers Edward’s early life quickly and focuses most of its 250 pages on the prince’s military exploits in France and concludes right before his marriage to Joan of Kent. Particular emphasis is given to Edward’s reactions in various situations, painting him as a noble and chivalric knight but he remains somewhat of an enigma. The long stretches of “telling” narrative do little to help.
A bit of romance comes in the form of Joan of Kent. In love with her cousin from an early age, she is frustrated when he fails to take notice of her and manages to wind up with two husbands which only further alienates her from Edward – at least for a while. This is basic historical fiction fare for its time and similar in style to Jean Plaidy or Norah Lofts and if this was history I was more familiar with, I might have been somewhat bored by it. But although the story is not overly detailed, the author pulls out all the stops when it comes to describing the pageantry of the era with some of the scenes appearing as little movies in my mind as I was reading. I have several of Bennett’s historical novels and now that I’ve read two of them (the other is her book about Isabella of France which I liked quite a bit),I think she might also resemble Plaidy and Lofts in being a little hit or miss.
In case the FTC asks: bought it used