Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Countess and the King

This book follows Katherine Sedley during the time of King Charles II.  She was born to wealth and freedom, being raised primarily by her father after the age of 6.  Her mother entered a convent for psychiatric reasons, and so she was raised by her father, Sir Charles Sedley.  He was a poet and close friends and an employee of the King.  He let Katherine follow him to most functions when young, and she was witness to much at a young age.  She was full of wit but not beauty, and many loved her for her personality.  In Restoration England her father is a libertine, but the young Duke of York is not.  He marries Italian Princess Mary of Modena, who is very Catholic.  The two brothers, the King and the Duke, are of different religions and it causes a lot of upheaval, and even makes the King exclude the Duke from the succession for several years.

Katherine has refused marriage a few times, and finds herself spurned in love as well.  She decides instead, when noticed, to become the mistress of James Duke of York.  She does not ask for special favors or gifts as most mistresses do, or have fancy rooms at the palace.  Since she already has her own considerable wealth from her father, she instead prefers only his company and a home nearby.  They have two children, a girl and boy.  The baby boy dies at a young age from a fever.  Katherine is in a unique position as a mistress- she is hated by his wife and even her father becomes suspicious of her.  Is she loyal to England or to the Duke? 

Their relationship is unique in that she can use her sharp tongue and wit on him, even scold him on his religion and he still loves her.  When the Duke is exiled to Ireland, she misses him while at the same time tries to bring him around.  She wants to reconcile her lover with his brother.  The Duke's councilors and priests are constantly telling him to give her up, which he eventually does.  She was created the Countess of Dorchester for life, and he provided well for her and their daughter.  She later married and had two sons and died at age 60.

I enjoyed reading this book, it was entertaining and I found Katherine entertaining. 

No comments:

Post a Comment