Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Book Review: Myself My Enemy
Myself My Enemy is a terrific account of Henriette-Marie’s life by my very favourite author, Jean Plaidy! This novel is told in the first person and so vividly described and filled with emotion that it definitely has become another of my preferred reads.
In Myself My Enemy, you inmmediately get the feeling of what this loyal- to her- king –lady is all about. Henriette-Marie was first and foremost, the great King Henri IV de Navarre’s last daughter. As a daughter of France by blood and by right, she is sent to marry Charles I of England. Wanted and chosen by Charles-The Queen of France relinquishes her daughter in the hopes of reuniting differences amongst not only the French and the English, but especially the religions (Protestant and Catholic).
From the very beginning we get to see that this fine Queen Consort of England is no push-over. She stands firm for her beliefs and choices when it comes to religion, friends, principles and ideas…unfortunately for her, this tenacity sometimes borders big time stubbornness. Such defiance is not always pleasing to the King; yet, he loves his Henriette dearly and although it would seem that they were opposites- in terms of sticking to their own point, they were actually quite similar.
Their relationship becomes one of give and take in where they both need it most. As time goes on, they develop a strong love and bond that will keep them faithful and caring deeply for eachother until the very end.
I really wanted to read this one in particular, especially becauseI'm way gaga over Charles II and so it was only right that I read Plaidy’s novel on his mother. I’m so glad I did! Reading Myself My Enemy gave me an inside look on Charles as a youngster seen through the eyes of his mother as well as his siblings and their situation amidst the terrible fate of Charles I. What I enjoyed mostly though was getting in closer on Henriette Marie’s last child, and Charles II’s favourite sibling- the absolutely delightful and charming young Henriette, or Minette, as her big brother called her. (see my post on her here).
The book is filled with a lot of the history and turmoil of the time period and makes no excuses for Charles I ‘s somewhat lacking traits for a King…The details are incredible and although I did get a very good sense of his leadership weakness, I did see the magnitudes of his strength in character when it came to love for his wife, family, and England (as he saw it), as well.
Henriette Marie loved her husband and did all she could to help him. After her escape to England (to save her pretty head), she and Minette lived in almost utter poverty without ever giving up hope. Her biggest wish was for Charles II and all her children to turn to the Catholic faith- and this she struggled towards achieving right up to the end. Minette, her favourite child would live her life taking on this role as crusader for the faith as well. Strange coincidence how both mother and daughter of the same name were both born by Kings who never got to see them into their childhood and on…
Excellent Book! I strongly recommend it.
Sidenote: Charles I was a one-woman-man. On this aspect, Charles II absolutely did not take from his dad. But if we can base ourselves on the positive way his dad treated and loved his strong-character mom, then it’s fair to say that it’s no wonder Charles the Rake was an absolute fine and understanding man when it came to treating the ladies; making him an absolute gentleman.