Mistress of the Court
Georgian Queens, Book #2
By Laura Purcell
Author Website: http://laurapurcell.com
I loved this story as it tells the journey of Henrietta a brutally abused wife of Charles who for the sake of their son Henry finds herself and her husband a place in the court of George and Caroline the Prince and Princess of Wales, to remove them from a life of abject poverty that Charles has subjected them to. Henrietta becomes Caroline’s confidant as they share much in common. Their boys are about the same age and both women have very little say in their futures.
When Caroline suggests that Henrietta become the mistress of George, as she feels she would rather know who he was courting with, Henrietta has no option but to obey. Henrietta, to please George must dye her hair blonde using horse urine to lighten it ,as George has a preference for blondes. Henrietta knows the affair will bring the worst out in Charles and after a brutal beating, in vengeance he takes Henry away from her and eventually turns Henry against her. It breaks Henrietta’s heart when Henry ,when he is older, says to her that she has brought shame against the family name and likely warranted the abuse Charles subjected her to. Henry states, to Henrietta’s dismay, that he wants nothing more to do with her. Caroline can also relate to this as her oldest son was taken away from her at 7 as they left Germany to remain as the future ruler of Hannover and also becomes distant to her as he gets older.
Caroline, as she sees her husband become more emotionally connected to Henrietta, turns against her also, bringing out a mean streak and forcing Henrietta to make a life changing decision. Henrietta knows that she will not be the King’s mistress forever as George is already searching for someone younger. When he repays her for her services, and luck has it that Charles eventually inherits a title, Henrietta has the ammunition to set up a life for herself. With the help of her brother whom Charles had forbidden her to see, she is able to, with great difficulty, break her bond with Charles and begin to build a life of her own. Only when Charles dies is she able to live freely, and make her own decisions.
I am always amazed at how little control these women had of their own futures. They were the property of their husbands and had no rights. Divorce was not an option and abuse was not a ground for leaving. They literally were breeders of future generations and even wealth and breeding had no say in their outcomes.
This is a delightful fast moving story that will keep the reader turning pages. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the flow of the story, and the setting and I definitely look forward to more books from Laura Purcell.