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.


  1. I've read this book twice and own the reissue. Indeed it's a wonderful and well-written story!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one Lucy! I liked it as well, though her stubbornness did cause many problems for the family and the country. I do remember her describing her first born, Charles, ugly but charming and intelligent. I also remember her leaving one of her children (just born at the time) to flee and it really affected me because I just don't see how women could do that. Times are definitely different. Great review!

  3. Thanks for yor comment Elisa:)

    Arleigh, that part bothered me too...and that was Minette she had to leave! Can you imagine that of all her children, she was actually the one who was always the nicest, most considerate and kindest to Henriette? Go figure..But then again, this was the child she loved and cherished the most. I'm not even sure Charles, her father, even saw her- and here again, very similar to what happened to Henriette herself..never saw her own father. Sad..

  4. This sounds like another good Plaidy story!
    Thanks for the review, Lucy! She sounds like a formidable woman, worth a look.

  5. Hi Marie:) I enjoyed reading about her, that's for sure! What a stubborn lady, but full of life and totally devoted to her huysband (and her religion;)

  6. I read this one years ago and absolutely LOVED it!!! Life would be so boring without Plaidy.

  7. Susie and Zetor- you are absolutely right! I can't imagine reading history without Plaidy:)

  8. This is one of my favorites by JP/VH as well =)

  9. I haven't read this one, but I remember her being talked about in The Merry Monarch's Wife. She did sound like a very strong woman. Great review Lucy!