* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia *
The Chosen Queen of the title is Edyth and the year is 1055, a decade before the Norman invasion of England in 1066, and yes, William the Conqueror.
Edyth is the granddaughter of Lady Godiva and dreams of marrying for love, but times were different 950 years ago and more often than not, women were married for political and monetary gain.
Edyth's father is close to King Edward (now known as Edward the Confessor), but after an angry outburst the family is exiled to Wales and the novel really takes off.
I read The Chosen Queen quite soon after the latest Philippa Gregory novel and I was a little worried this might pale in comparison, but I'm pleased to say it wasn't the case. Joanna Courtney manages to guide the reader through a turbulent time in the history of Wales and England with a tight, fast-paced plot and a hint of romance throughout.
Similar to Gregory, Courtney has chosen (see what I did there?) a strong female character from history in Edyth as her protagonist, and we are privy to her inner thoughts during her rise in power and influence. Lady Svana is Edyth's closest friend however their friendship is complicated and at one point they even find themselves on opposing sides. The loss of human life in battle after battle is deeply felt by the two women and Courtney has captured the times very well.
The Chosen Queen is a standalone but also the first in The Queens of the Conquest trilogy, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction by Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick or Jean Plaidy.