Sunday, May 27, 2012

Isabeau, A novel of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortier with Author Interview

      Isabella of France, the She-Wolf, begins her life in England as a forgotten wife. With Hugh Despenser ruling Edward II and England, Isabella is forced to fight for her crown or lose all she has. Humiliated and dejected, she is sent back to her native France to negotiate a treaty with her brother. Isabella soon rebels with the help of outlaw Roger Mortimer, who was saved by her kindness years before. The two soon become lovers and set England a fire. 

      This novel is wonderful. Isabella has always been categorized as an evil woman. However, one finds the Queen endured quite a lot before taking matters into her own hands. I loved watching Isabella transform into a strong woman who values family, compassion, loyalty and power. One can easily see how Isabella feel for Roger Mortimer, a knight worthy of Aurthur's round table, but not with out his own flaws. Watching Isabella become the she-wolf is amazing!! 
      I'd like to thank N Gemini Sasson for providing me a review copy and welcoming her to Musings of a Book Junkie to let us peer into her Isabella!! 

      How was Isabella able to overcome gender bias to rule England in all but name?

Actually, I don’t think she did overcome it. The fact that she was later known as the ‘She-Wolf of France’ is testimony to that. Given  that, when I first began researching her, I expected to learn about someone who was ruthless and difficult. On the contrary, it seemed that initially she was a very likeable person and gifted at influencing others. So what she did was gather people around her who she could trust, like Adam Orleton, the Bishop of Hereford. The Regency Council which oversaw her son’s minority rule was composed of people who were receptive to her wishes. In this way, she was able to assert her own agenda.

 Who or what sparked that change in Isabella?

It certainly wasn’t the norm for women to take charge and wield power openly, but I suspect she was a strong-willed woman by nature who had tried to hold her tongue for too long. In the early years of her marriage to Edward II, things seemed peaceful. They had four children and spent a fair amount of time together. But just because she was quiet and compliant doesn’t mean they were living happily. When Hugh Despenser began to dominate Edward’s attention, at her expense, I think she finally snapped. But it wasn’t just an issue that Isabella had. England’s barons had insisted on Despenser’s exile three separate times and all three times Edward welcomed him home. The cycle just kept repeating itself. Simply put, she’d had enough.
Was she blind to Roger and Edward III's flaws?

When we love someone, aren’t we always, to some degree? Then again, a person’s strengths can also be their flaws.

What do you believe was Isabella's biggest challenge? Her biggest mistake?

Her biggest challenge was to keep her son, Edward III, and Roger Mortimer from being at odds. They were two very resolute and ambitious men. Young Edward believed England was his to rule as he wished and Mortimer believed his experience meant he knew better.

Her biggest mistake was probably in trying to augment her wealth through the acquisition of land. I imagine her thinking was that she thought land meant wealth and power, and after having gone through a period later in her marriage when some of that had been taken from her, she didn’t want to be powerless again. But she became greedy and that caused a lot of resentment, much of which was also directed towards Mortimer, who was on the receiving end of her generosity at the expense of others. Her thinking was understandable, but it wasn’t really justifiable, nor was it balanced.

I’d like to thank you, Allison, for allowing me to talk about Queen Isabella. She’s been a fascinating historical figure to study.


  1. Enjoyed reading these books a lot. Great author!

  2. She is fantastic! I love how she conveys emotion and tension without telling you how to feel.

  3. Sounds really good. ^.^
    Are you still having issues being able to blog Allison??