Cover image for The fatal crown
The fatal crown
Jones, Ellen.
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New York : Simon and Schuster, [1991]

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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Norman England is an era that should, and often has, provided a motherlode for writers of historical fiction. It is a period of tumult, violence, and fascinating characters such as Thomas Becket and Henry II. Jones' chronicle of the supposed love affair and struggle for the throne between Matilda and her cousin Stephen is often interesting and informative. She clearly has a feel for the spirit of the times, and the relatively obscure character of Matilda emerges here as a woman of power, passion, and dignity. Unfortunately, Jones seems to regularly stress the romantic at the expense of historical accuracy. She also displays a penchant for the overuse of adjectives, often stringing together three or four where one would suffice. Still, if one is prepared to live with the blemishes, this is an enjoyable and occasionally touching novel. ~--Jay Freeman

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this cumbrous historical novel, Jones postulates a turbulent love affair between the English princess Maud (born 1102) and her cousin and rival to the throne, Stephen of Blois--their passion complicated by political strife. Granddaughter of William the Conquerer, the historical Maud was wed at nine to an aging Holy Roman Emperor, later recalled from Germany as a widow of 25, named heir to the crown of England and married to 14-year-old Geoffrey Plantagenet. The novel dramatizes Maud's purported adulterous liaison with Stephen, who, despite their passionate involvement, angrily challenges her right to the throne when her father dies: their rivalry did in fact erupt into a devastating civil war; Stephen won, reigning until his death in 1154, whereupon Maud's son acceded to the throne, becoming the skilled administrator Henry II, husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine. As depicted here, Maud is a temperamental romance heroine, manipulated by male chauvinists--feudal barons; her father, Henry I; her domineering, priggish husband, Geoffrey. Jones packs her fiction debut with factual passages that read as turgidly as a textbook, brightening the narrative with lust-filled interludes in royal bedchambers and a rustic forest lodge. The many hunting descriptions indicate inadequate research--a huntsman on the field would never feed his dogs raw boar meat--yet the period color and romance carry the tale to its bittersweet ending. 100,000 first printing . (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved