The Queen’s Rival is a story of a young girl name Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount whose father was injured in one of Henry VIII’s war with a neighboring country. Her mother, a lady in Katherine of Argon’s household comes home to take care of her husband and Bessie, dreaming of court life, takes her place. She is a beautiful and intelligent girl who captures many at Henry VII’s court and eventually Henry himself. Bessie becomes his mistress and rival to the Queen. As the story is told Katherine of Argon-Henry’s wife-is having one miss-carriage after another and Henry grows restless and the queen begins to worry about her position. Henry wants a son, an heir to the throne and to continue the Tudor line.
We all know that Henry had many mistresses and lovers and as Bessie’s light fades in his eyes she turns to the one person she can trust the most at court-a ward of Cardinal Wolsey. But there is much more to this story than meets the eye. I have not read a rendition of Henry’s court quite like this one. Nor of a side to him that we see in stories…..I found this refreshing and with this story, I wondered if there was possibly a softer side of Henry than portrayed today. Not excusing his treatments of his wives, of course, or with women of his court in general. In this story I even thought about what his relationship was really like with his brother Arthur and if Henry truly mourned Arthurs death-even years later after it happen. Also, his friendships with the men at court was really intriguing to follow in this story. Especially with his friendship with Charles Brandon.
This is a beautiful and truly a unique story and I look forward to reading more of Haeger’s books. The over- all layout impressed me and the story flowed really well and captured my interest right from the start to the very end. Two thumbs up for this Tudor story!
Reviewed by Stephanie Moore Hopkins