By Diane Haeger, 1993, Historical Fiction
Pocket, ISBN #0671740652
In the France of olde, Diane de Poitiers returns to the court of Francois I after an informal exile of five years. The two were involved in a scandalous relationship then, and though he’d like to start it up again, she wants to begin anew. She is thirtyone, beautiful, and clever. She is also strong, putting up a brave front when she is shunned, criticized, and then poisoned. Just when she’s ready to pack it in, Henri de Valois walks in, and her life is forever changed.
After years in captivity by the King of Spain, the young prince returns to his father’s court. He holds a strong grudge against his father, trusts no one, and cannot be “handled.” Not quite a man, Henri finds himself with responsibilities to his country. He eventually finds himself responsible for defending the life of a woman nearly twice his age – one Diane de Poitiers. Their relationship will continue throughout his entire life.
Henri and Diane meet as friends initially, then meet and meet, always as friends, until, one day, passion sparks in a kiss. Diane knows it is wrong to have an intimate relationship with someone nearly half her age, but she feels the pull of her soul to his. The love they share is unique. Eventually Henri finds himself married to another woman and the ruler of his country. But he wants Diane by his side. And, Henri must have a legal heir. Although Diane is still shunned at court, she chooses to remain at his side.
Through highs and lows, Henri and Diane’s love remains. This is not puppy love or infatuation – this is the once in a lifetime kind of love read about in fairytales, and it is this relationship I have always loved since first reading Courtesan. You will be entralled from start to finish about this romance between a King and “the other woman.” The author provides vivid details both of country life and life at court. Because this is based on a true story, the history comes alive. There are laughter and tears found in this book, many, many tears.
Henri, the romantic king, overcome with love for his “uncrowned queen,” is a wonderful hero. And Diane is the ever-youthful heroine. Diane and Henri. . . lovers forever. Courtesan will break your heart but will leave you with something to carry on.
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