Saturday, 1 August 2009

A Health Unto His Majesty.


'A Health Unto His Majesty' by Jean Plaidy.

This novel is based around the reign of Charles II. England has been subdued under the puritan rule of Oliver Cromwell and his men with many everyday pleasures abolished. When Charles II is restored to the throne in 1660 the English people are ready for change.

'The King was a man whom the English would never cease to love. And at the great Court ball in Whitehall Palace on the last night of the year 1662, all those present rejoiced once more that their King was a merry monarch and that he had come home to rule his kingdom.'

Christmas festivities and May Day parades were reintroduced , and the country was at peace and happy. Happy with their King. A charismatic man, who very readily forgave the murderers of his father, a man ready to tackle life and all it entailed.
Charles was very fond of the ladies , both in and out of court. One of his favourites was Barbara Villiers , she was his mistress for many years and bore him several children. However, when the Royal lineage was considered a Royal Princess from Portugal was chosen. Thereby Catherine of Braganza travelled to England to become England's next Queen.
A shy,Catholic young girl met Charles and fell madly in love. Although not a beauty she possessed a certain charm.
After the first few weeks of marriage Charles' wander lust returned and Catherine was left lonely and forlorn in a foreign country, being confronted with her husband's mistress Barbara Villiers as a lady of her bedchamber did not ease the situation. These two women would be enemies for many years.
Throughout their marriage Catherine tried to tame is roving eye , without much success .

'It was seven years since she had come to England and she was more deeply in love with Charles than she had been during their ecstatic honeymoon. She no longer hoped to have his love exclusively; it would be enough for her if she might share it with all who made demands on it.'

She became pregnant numerous times but each ended in a miscarriage. At these times and throughout illnesses Charles proved that he was capable of great care and attention.
During these years London experienced the plague, the great fire and the Titus Oates Popish plots. Charles proved at these troublesome times to be a monarch of great practical wisdom and sensitivity.

'The King with his brother , the Duke of York, were in the centre of activity. ...
The Citizens saw their King then, not as the careless philanderer, but the man of action.'

Amid many plots to oust their Catholic Queen, Catherine remained at her husband's side and he tried to protect her, and so their lives proceeded.
Catherine died on 31st December 1705 in Portugal and Barbara Villiers,Charles' prominent mistress died of dropsy in four years later.

A passionate story of a marriage. I believe there was love on both sides but for some reason Charles could not remain faithful. The last page of the book is a perfect conclusion-------

'She had wept and had begged that he would forgive her for failing him - for failing to bring him the dowry which he had so desired, for failing to bring him beauty which he had so admired, for failing to give him a son.
She would treasure his answer to the very end.'You beg my pardon? Do not, I pray you, for it is I who should beg yours, and this I do with all my heart.'

'The end was near... at the last there was one who stood beside her - tall and very dark, with a jest on his lips - who took her hand to lead her; and she was smiling, for thus she was not afraid.
'


Wonderful!

4 comments:

Margot said...

Wow, that is romance and history all rolled into one. I'd never read the story before. Thanks for sharing.

Ms. Lucy said...

I want to read this!! Fabulous review. I'd reead anything about Charles- Plaidy does a fantastic job. Love you review. Thanks:)

Linda Jacobs said...

I don't read a lot of historical fiction but this one sounds really good!

Congrats on the new grandchild! I'll be looking for an announcement!

Arleigh said...

This is one of my favorites! I love Plaidy's version of Catherine and Barbara more than any of the other authors I have read. The Merry Monarch's Wife (also titled The Pleasures of Love) is also good and is different enough from this one to make it interesting to those who have read the Charles II trilogy. The Titus Oates conspiracy is explained in more detail.