I was taken back to the 14th Century, the time of political turmoil and the black plague. King Edward the III will plunge England into the Hundred Years War, vying for the crown of France. Here is where I will be introduced to the beautiful Joan of Kent, known to history as the Fair Maid of Kent.
A Triple Knot is based on the true story of Joan of Kent, daughter of Edmund, Earl of Kent, the youngest son of Edward I. When Isabella, Edward II's queen, invaded England with Roger Mortimer, her lover, Edmund took sides against his half brother, Edward II. Realizing his error in judgement, he was led to believe that Edward II was still alive, hidden, and held against his will, despite a public funeral. Edmund's allegiance would prove fatal and he was later beheaded for being a traitor and trying to restore the throne of Edward II. A Triple Knot begins when Joan is a young girl, grieving the loss of her beloved father and plotting revenge on those that betrayed him. Edmund's primary betrayer was Isabella, the Dowager Queen and to the dismay of both Joan and her mother, Margaret, they were living under the same roof. After Edmund's death, Edward the III and Queen Phillippa, perhaps feeling quilty for not stopping the execution, took responsibility for the family and provided well for them in the home of Queen Phillippa.
Joan and Ned, (Prince Edward, known as the Black Prince) became very close during childhood and Ned became Joan's adversary and protector. He lavished Joan with affection but was also prone to tantrums and posessiveness. Joan loved him dearly but did not share his affections and as they reached puberty, she began to distrust him. His jealousy was beginning to rear it's ugly head and Joan did not find it flattering. From an early age, Ned had always admired his beautiful cousin, and he declares that one day they will be betrothed. Ned makes Joan promise to marry him and because she did not want to witness a tantrum, she quickly agrees. Of course, the young prince does not keep his love for Joan hidden and his mother, Queen Phillippa soon takes notice and does not approve of the relationship and soon plots a way to send Joan away, taking her mother, Margaret, with her. The Queen has tired of their constant presence and the control young Joan seems to have over her eldest son. Pillippa brings her suggestion to the King and comes away from the conversation quite pleased with herself. She had convinced King Edward that his niece would make a fine match for a powerful Lord and a potential ally. Best of all, it looked as if the proposed idea of marriage was King Edward's alone and the King felt that he had arranged a perfect political union. Joan is quickly placed on a boating excursion so that she may be "placed" in sight of the nobleman. He will see her beauty and all will be well with the world. However, Joan and her mother can't help but feel they are one step closer to being exiled far away and it is on this ship that a twelve-year old Joan meets the much older Thomas Holland. Joan is instantly attracted to the handsome King's Knight. Joan and Thomas fall madly in love and carry on an illicit affair with incredible passion. At this time, Joan is being persued with many marriage proposals, most importantly, she was being carefully groomed for William Montague but her heart belongs to Holland. Thomas Holland may be a knight and a decorated soldier but he is below Joan's station and therefore deemed an unacceptable union. Joan continually defies those that tried to keep the lovers apart and they met in secrecy whenever possible, no matter the risks. It is not long before Joan and Thomas contract a secret marriage without royal consent. The King is enraged at Joan's defiance and when Holland is away fighting the Hundred Years' War, Joan is forced to marry. Fearing for Holland's life, Joan does not disclose her secret marriage. Will they remain happy? And, what of Prince Edward's undying love for Joan? Will he ever make Joan his Queen as he once vowed to do? If you know your history, well, you already know the answer. I hate to spoil the outcome for those that do not know much about the lesser known Joan of Kent but I will say this: A Triple Knot indeed. Joan was quite adept at getting what she wanted. She was smart, beautiful, and had a way of subtle manipulation, to say the least. Did Joan exact her revenge on the Dowager Queen Isabella? I believe she did and I believe she did it with the utmost courage and nobility. Afterall, she was the Fair Maid of Kent.
Historical fiction is brilliant because one is able to take the facts and play with them a bit, tweak them here and there. I believe Campion did her homework on the subject and wrote an enthralling tale of betrayal, love, intrigue, and family. Most importantly, Emma Campion has provided me with knowledge of the 14th Century and of a woman, that before a few days ago, I knew very little about. Campion has opened the door for me and now I must seek more historical stories from a fascinating period in time.