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Queen Isabella


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About the Author

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, and several other historical biographies. She lives in Surrey with her husband and two children.


Vilified throughout the centuries as the coconspirator in the murder of her husband, King Edward II of England, Queen Isabella receives sympathetic treatment from historical biographer Weir. Born in 1295 to King Philip and Queen Jeanne of France, Isabella was betrothed in infancy and married at 12 to create an alliance between the two countries. Though Isabella and Edward had four children, Edward paid more attention to his male favorites, Piers Gaveston and Hugh le Dispenser the Younger. In 1325, Isabella returned to France, and with her lover, Roger Mortimer, she raised an army to oppose Edward. The king was deposed and died in prison in 1327-murdered, many would have it, on Isabella's order. When Edward III was grown, he imprisoned his mother and executed Mortimer. After her release, she maintained cordial relations with her son and often visited his court. Weir uses contemporary sources and later scholarship to create this portrait of the queen and her social and political world. Lisette Lecat's reading is exquisite; her clear, crisp voice allows the listener to keep track of the characters and the chronology in a story that is mostly narrative and little dialog. Highly recommended.-Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Isabella of France (1295?-1358) married the bisexual Edward II of England as a 12-year-old, lived with him for 17 years, bore him four children, fled to France in fear of his powerful favorite, returned with her lover, Roger Mortimer, to lead a rebellion and place her son on the throne and eventually saw Mortimer executed as her son asserted his power. Veteran biographer Weir (Eleanor of Aquitaine, etc.) battles Isabella's near-contemporaries and later storytellers and historians for control of the narrative, successfully rescuing the queen from writers all too willing to imagine the worst of a medieval woman who dared pursue power. Weir makes great use of inventories to recreate Isabella's activities and surroundings and, strikingly, to establish the timing of the queen's turn against her husband and her probable ignorance of the plot to kill him. Weir convincingly argues that the infamous story of Edward II being murdered with a red-hot iron emerged from propaganda against Isabella and Mortimer. (Her unlikely assertion that Edward escaped and lived out his life as a hermit is less believable.) Weir presents a fascinating rewriting of a controversial life that should supersede all previous accounts. Isabella is so intertwined with the greatest figures of her century and the next that any reader of English history will want this book. Maps not seen by PW. Agent, Julian Alexander. (On sale Oct. 11) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Gripping . . . a highly readable tour de force that brings Queen Isabella vividly to life."-The Washington Post Book World

"Insightful and compelling . . . [offers] surprise after surprise about the sensual, rather avaricious but eminently admirable Isabella."-USA Today

"[Isabella's] story has a distinctly modern appeal. . . . Full of violent men with short tempers, conniving politicians and wildly domineering parents, it's a period-piece melodrama that doubles as a timeless morality play."-The New York Times Book Review

"Fascinating . . . a work of extraordinary historical reporting that is rich, alive, and truly exciting."-Tucson Citizen

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