Alice Salisbury is an obedient fourteen year old living in her parents household in London. She assists her father in his successful trading business and tries to stay out of her spiteful mother's way. When she catches the eye of attractive and wealthy Janyn Perrers, her mother becomes increasing jealous. After some time, Janyn proposes and Alice is sent to her paternal grandparents house to prepare for her wedding to Janyn. There, Alice is shown more kindness than ever, and when she marries Janyn, she blossoms under loves careful protection. Janyn treats his wife to all the comforts he can afford, new gowns, and even continues her education. But Alice wonders about his intentions. When Alice learns that she is to meet the dowager queen and she-wolf Isabella of France. Isabella favors the Perrers Family, showering them with gifts, but this scares Alice. It seems at every turn Isabella is dominating the Perrers' life, from sending Janyn on missions to visiting. When Alice becopmes pregnant, her excitement is infectious. Isabella demands to stand in as the child's godmother, sending Alice's terror over the edge. After the child is born, the Perrers star continues to rise, and Alice is send to be Princess Phillipa's Maid in Waiting against her will. Isabella and Janyn insist the new position is for Alice and Bella's good. At this time, things begin to turn more frightening, Janyn becomes withdrawn and secretive. Then, one day, Janyn is gone. Alice shuts down, and becomes withdrawn. Alice is drawn back to life by now Queen Phillipa. Alice and Phillipa become allies, and Alice becomes her stylist. But things at court are always changing. As Phillipa ages and no longer acts as a lover to Edward, Alice begins taking her place with Phillipa's blessing. With Alice by his side, Edward weathers life losses of his loved ones, including his wife and his declining health. Through their love, Edward and Alice have three children. but when Edward begins to lose his mental and physical capabilities, Alice worries about the future for herself and her children. When Edward dies, the wolves are surrounding Alice and her small family. She is forced into an unhappy marriage, and is no longer the wealthy land owner that she once was. Will she ever be happy again?
Emma Campion imagines a realistic Alice Perrers. To my chagrin, not much is known about Alice Perrers, other than she wasn't gorgeous (gasp!), she was greedy (gasp!) and she practiced love spells (gasp!). This is how history remembers this woman. Although, history is never kind to thinking women who are in star crossed relationships. To me, Alice should be in a category with Anne Boleyn, Diane de Pointers, and Cleopatra. These husband stealing hussies all were thinking creatures who loved the person that they were with (I assume.) Truth be told, I feel sympathetic for these ladies, Alice included.
All in all, Alice is a very understandable character. Emma makes her introspective, which makes it even better.