A Triple Knot is the fictionalized story of Joan of Kent, royal daughter descended from Edward I of England who ultimately became Queen Regent for her son, Richard II. The novel, however, does not get to this point of Joan's rather engaging life; we follow her from the time she's a child who is basically raised with the king's children until she finally marries the man known as the Black Prince, some twenty years later. What happens in between really could be the invention of a novelist, with Joan marrying Thomas Holland, a lowly knight, in secret, and then going into another marriage with the son of the Earl of Salisbury at her family's direction. Her feelings for Thomas and her resistance to her second marriage ultimately becomes a decision for the Pope and the proceedings are dragged out over time. It's really amazing that this renowned beauty somehow managed to be united with the man she loved and overcome her family's insistence of the validity of her second marriage; beyond that, she eventually captured the heart of the Black Prince and came to power in her own right. Truly an amazing account that should be excellent fodder for an historical novel.
Unfortunately, A Triple Knot does quite a bit of "telling" rather than showing; there's a dearth of dialogue that would have illuminated the characters involved and involved the reader more fully with events that are at times pretty confusing. Even when there is dialogue, it's often either stilted and formal, or very flowery; I just could not get a connection to any of the characters because I just couldn't relate to them. There's a lot of intrigue going on (as I'm sure there was at the time) but Joan is cast firstly as a victim of a sexual predator, then as a mature lover (at age twelve!), then as a brave woman defending herself and others on shipboard, then as a sullen, depressed young woman; after that we find Joan as victim again, lover again, repeat cycle. With all that actually happened in this remarkable young lady's life, it seemed a bit overdone to have her fight off an attacker physically on a ship but then be held captive by her erstwhile husband a bit later. I know the gaps needed filling, and it's the author's prerogative to do so, but I just couldn't buy into it.
Not that there's nothing redeeming in this novel; I did enjoy parts of it and found that the author remained as true as I could recall to the known facts. It's just the characterizations the author chose in using those facts left me feeling cold. With a wealth of fascinating personages and events that changed the course of history, I just wanted at least one person to whom I felt a connection. I stuck with the novel through the end and never truly enjoyed the journey as much as I wanted to.