MYSELF MY ENEMY by Jean Plaidy


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Now that Plaidy has polished off the Plantagenets, completing her pre-20th-century royal chronicle, she turns to the queens of England--each to narrate her own saga. The opener, alas, is Henriette Marie, wife of doomed Charles I. . . who's both a bore and a whiner, droning on and on here about her admittedly lousy life. Daughter of Henry IV of France, Henriette is eager enough to wed Prince Charles. But the bridegroom (a visual disappointment) tries to remove Henriette's beloved attendant from the royal carriage--and then there are those awful drafty, dingy castles! As for the First Night: ""I wondered what people. . . found so exciting about it. The King seemed rather pleased."" He's not so pleased, however, when Henriette attempts to carry out her mission (urged by Mother and clergy)--to Catholicize Protestant England. Still, with all the abrasions in the marriage, she draws closer to this weak but well-meaning, somewhat melancholy King. Children are born. They agree on a dislike of Parliament: ""He believed he could manage very well without those dreary men. . . ."" There's a plateau of pleasant reigning. Her husband listens to her; she has luck in welcoming Papal agents; she's made life easier for English Catholics. But the Rebellion is heating up because of those nasty Puritans (Henriette's mini-brained view of history is the only one on display here). And now the Queen's activities become frantic and unwise: participation in a plot to seize the Tower and free the doomed Stafford. So there'll be flights to Holland and France, a scattering of children, brief reunions, the final exodus, news of the King's execution. And Henriette will remain in France until the triumphant return of son Charles II, living in humiliating ""poverty"" for a time, quarreling with her remaining children. (None of them is particularly devoted--except possibly young Henriette, whom Mama bludgeons into a loveless marriage.) Throughout, the wildly complex background to the deposition of Charles I is simplified and flattened to a starchy monotonic recital, accented only by such exclamations as ""I was distressed,"" ""I was enraged,"" etc. And though Plaidy does have a way with Queens, Henriette remains unjelled, undiscovered. For undemanding fans only.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Putnam