Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: A Trip Knot by Emma Campion

Published July 08, 2014
Broadway Books
Pages: 480
ISBN: 978-0-307-58929-3


The critically acclaimed author of The King's Mistress brings another fascinating woman from history to life in an enthralling story of political intrigue, personal tragedy, and illicit love.

Joan of Kent, renowned beauty and cousin to King Edward III, is destined for a politically strategic marriage. As the king begins a long dynastic struggle to claim the crown of France, plunging England into the Hundred Years’ War, he negotiates her betrothal to a potential ally and heir of a powerful lordship.

But Joan, haunted by nightmares of her father’s execution at the hands of her treacherous royal kin, fears the king’s selection and is not resigned to her fate. She secretly pledges herself to one of the king’s own knights, one who has become a trusted friend and protector. Now she must defend her vow as the king—furious at Joan’s defiance—prepares to marry her off to another man.

In A Triple Knot, Emma Campion brings Joan, the “Fair Maid of Kent” to glorious life, deftly weaving details of King Edward III’s extravagant court into a rich and emotionally resonant tale of intrigue, love, and betrayal.

What Did I Think About The Story?

In the royal world where marriage is based more on alliances gained then love between the participants, the Joan of Kent that Emma Campion weaves through A Trip Knot is one extraordinary woman. While the King, her mother and many others seek to use her as a pawn for their own means, Joan refuses to let anyone own her heart and decides to go against everything expected of her and marry the man she loves in secret, a man below her station. Joan and Thomas Holland, her brave knight husband, give the reader a wonderful love story to swoon over, one that faces every possible obstacle in the hopes of that ever illusive happily-ever-after.

The Triple Knot that Joan finds herself in are the three men she must juggle in her dangerous game of marriage and love: Thomas, the husband she marries in secret and loves with all her heart; Will Montague, the spineless young man she is forced to marry who cares nothing for her; and Ned, her cousin and heir to the throne with a prominent dark side who is determined to have Joan at any and all costs. It takes a smart and savvy woman with a spine of steal to manage this balancing act and Joan is just that young woman. How she navigates this ever shifting dilemma without ever fully giving in to the wants of the King or giving up on the marriage with Thomas that so many refuse to even acknowledge was commendable and exciting to watch unfold. However, history being history, events don't always work out exactly as one wishes and my heart soared and broke right along with Joan's.

The world of the English court, the furnishings, the clothes, the landscapes and much more all come vividly to life within the pages of the story. It is easy to immerse yourself in the goings on and become a part of Joan's world, for better or for worse,  as well as feel connected to the characters. I love a story that makes me feel a participant in the story instead of a spectator and Ms. Campion does this exceptionally well.

On the downside, one things I often find a problem in epic historical fiction like this is keeping the characters straight as so many of them have similar names and titles. While Ms. Campion does try to assist with this confusion by calling some characters by their nicknames (prince Edward becomes Ned to differentiate between the king and prince, William Montague becomes Will to differentiate him from his father, etc) I still found myself having to reread passages and check the names against the character listing at the front of the book to make sure I had the right person in mind and therefore kept straight the intricate connections between characters. My only other complaint would have to be with Joan's sometimes shifting heart. While she clearly loves Thomas her attraction to her cousin Ned somewhat pulled from that love and made it feel less epic at times.  While it's easy to understand why the heart of a young woman like Joan would long for other things while she pined for the husband of her heart it just made me see her as indecisive at times when I wished to see her as stronger than that. But alas no one is perfect and I have a feeling this Joan is much more true to history than the one of my imaginings.

I very much enjoyed being immersed in the world of A Triple Knot and watching this heroine of history navigate this difficult world on her own terms. Having read very little about Joan of Kent before I am now excited to search out more books about her life. Highly recommended to those who enjoy Plantagenet English history and strong determined characters.

What Did I Think About The Cover?

It's ok but I don't think it really highlights any particular part of the story or makes me need to turn the book over and read the back.  I would have preferred some more vibrant colors or something that gives that feeling of danger or excitement that overshadowed Joan's life.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review...thank you Blogging for Books!

About the Author

EMMA CAMPION is the author of The King's Mistress and A Triple Knot and did her graduate work in medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature. She lives in Seattle. Visit her at


  1. Lovely review -- I think I DNF'd this one but you highlighted what was lovely about it.

    1. Thank you, Audra, I really appreciate that :)!!

  2. I think this book had so much potential which such an interesting story to tell. Except I just couldn't seem to get into it. I did make it all the way through, but I was definitely disappointed by it.

    1. Hi Shoshanah! I have heard a number of people say the same thing. It definitely had its slower moments but I ended up really enjoying it. Thanks for stopping by!!!

  3. The comments make me hesitate a little, but your review makes it sound like a book I should pick up. I love historical fiction that makes me feel like I'm there. It also sounds like the author tried to stay true to history, which is a big plus. Thanks for the review. This was helpful!

    1. This one definitely seems to divide readers but I really did enjoy it! I hope you do too and thank you for stopping by!!