By Anne O'Brien
A baby born in the plague yr of 1348, abandoned and raised in the oppressive partitions of a convent, Alice Perrers refused to take the veil, confident larger future awaited her. Ambitious and speedy witted, she rose above her imprecise beginnings to turn into the infamous mistress of Edward III. yet constantly, basically, she used to be alone...
Early in Alice’s existence, an opportunity assembly with royalty alterations every thing: Kindly Queen Philippa, deeply in love along with her husband yet gravely in poor health, chooses Alice as a lady-in-waiting. Under the queen’s watchful eye, Alice dares to talk her mind. She calls for to be taken seriously. She even flirts with the dynamic, a lot older king. But she is torn whilst her vivid spirit captures his interest...and leads her to a betrayal she by no means intended.
In Edward’s deepest chambers, Alice discovers the pleasures and paradoxes of her position. She is the queen’s confidante and the king’s lover, but she will depend merely on herself. It is a divided position she used to be destined to play, and she or he vows to play it until eventually the sour end. Even as she is swept up in Edward’s lavish and sumptuous courtroom, gathering wealth and impact for herself, changing into an enemy of his power-hungry son John of Gaunt, and a sparring associate to innovative diplomat William de Windsor, she anticipates the day while the political winds will flip opposed to her. For whilst her detractors voice their hatred,and accusations of treason swirl round her,threatening to break every little thing she has completed, who will stand through Alice then?
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And striding towards us used to be the landlord. the fellow with the raptor. Wykeham bowed back, with what might have been construed as a scowl in my path, so I curtseyed. The newcomer seemed to me like a huntsman strayed into the corridor after a day’s workout, seeking to discover a cup of ale or a heel of bread as he lined the floor with lengthy loping strides, as lithe because the hound at his aspect. after which he was once status inside a number of ft of me. ‘Sire! ’ Wykeham bowed once again. The King! I sank to the ground, preserving my skirts, my flushed face hidden. How naive i used to be. yet how used to be I to grasp? He didn't costume like a king. Then I seemed up and observed him now not a rating of toes far-off, and knew that he didn't want garments and jewels to proclaim his superiority. What a fantastic, god-like determine he was once. a guy of a few age and event, yet he wore the years calmly. good-looking absolutely with a extensive forehead and an excellent blade of a nostril complemented by way of sumptuous flaxen hair that shone as vivid as silver. the following was once no dry-as-dust dullard. The King shone like a diamond among valueless dross. ‘It’s the water offer! ’ the King introduced. ‘Yes, Sire. i've got it in hand,’ Wykeham answered lightly. ‘The Queen wishes heated water. ’ The King’s complexion may as soon as were reasonable yet his dermis used to be tanned and seamed from an outside existence in sunlight and chilly. What a extraordinary face he was once blessed with, with blue eyes as prepared as these of the raptor on his fist, whose hood he was once within the technique of elimination. And what fluidity and beauty there has been approximately his pursuits as he unclipped his cloak, one-handed, swung it from his shoulder and threw it to a web page who had him around the corridor. How had I no longer identified that this was once King Edward? At his belt was once a knife in a jewelled scabbard, in his hat a ruby brooch pinning a peacock feather into jaunty position. Even with out the glitter of gem stones, I must have identified. He had a presence, the behavior of command, of difficult unquestioning obedience. So this used to be Queen Philippa’s tremendous husband. i used to be dazzled. I stood, my middle beating quick, conscious of not anything yet my very own unlucky clothing, the heap of the disreputable mantle at my toes. however the King was once now not me. used to be I no more poorly clad than any of the servants I had visible within the palace? He might think—if he inspiration at all—that i used to be a beggar come to obtain alms from the palace kitchens. Even the raptor eyed me as though i would be vermin and price the consuming. The King swept his arm out in a grand gesture. ‘Out! All of you! ’ The canines obediently vanished in the course of the door in a hurry of pleasure. ‘Will—I’ve been taking a look at the location for the bathtub condominium you proposed. ’ He was once shut adequate to clip Wykeham in an affectionate demeanour on his shoulder. ‘Where’ve you been? ’ i'd besides now not were there. ‘I’ve been to St Mary’s at Barking, Sire. ’ Wykeham smiled. ‘Barking? Why in God’s identify? ’ ‘Business for the Queen, Sire. a brand new chantry for the 2 useless Princesses. ’ The King nodded. ‘Yes, certain. I’d forgotten. It supplies her convenience and—before God! —precious little does.