Kathryn Warner, Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2016), pp. 320. UK £14.99 Pbk. ISBN. 978-1-4456-5242-9. UK £20.00. Hbk. ISBN. 978-1-4456-4740-1.
Kathryn Warner according to her Goodreads author page has two degrees in Medieval History and Literature from the University of Manchester. Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen is the second book from this author and published by Amberley Publishing in Stroud in 2016.
The book is well researched, however there is a disconnect between the endnotes and the bibliography. Some of the references do not follow a standard academic format and this is frustrating at times. There is a very comprehensive bibliography, and the small and easily rectified oversight does let this section and the book down.
Another annoying aspect found in the book, is that at times the author gives long-winded explanations of characters and repeatedly lists their pedigree’s it this does become tiresome. There is also a readiness to accept the reliability of the Vita Edwardi Secundi and Warner states that it was ‘the most thorough, reliable and useful chronicle for the reign’. It may be useful but accepting its reliability without question does seem somewhat naïve for a historian? As Wendy Childs in the Oxford Medieval Text translation points out ‘the author [of the VES] is not, however, without faults’.
The book suffers like many in the mainstream from attempting to appeal to mass market readers and to academic audiences. In this case, the book does fail at both. The author’s bias is prevalent throughout the text. The introduction is a lambasting of other authors being too one-sided and critical of Edward II, yet Warner’s personal opinion overshadows what could have been an enjoyable book.
Overall, the book is well researched, however, the narrative gets lost in tedious pedigrees and pointless detail, and whilst it may be necessary for in a historical book, the point of the book does get lost. The book is not without merit and offers many salient points, it is not totally unreadable and Warner writes well, however the authors sympathy for Edward II and inability to accept his failings overshadows the book.
** NOTE: The Historical Examiner received a complimentary copy of the book to review, but no other incentives. The review is an honest and unbiased opinion.