Matilda Empress by Lise Arin

What I Loved:

Matilda Empress had SUCH an intense world! I really appreciated Lise Arin’s creation of Matilda’s life. The buildings, people, and story just felt so real. It was just how a historical fiction should feel, and I loved it!

How I Felt:

The Characters: Matilda turned out to be a bit more of an unlikable character than I had anticipated. I really wanted to like her, but I found her to be a bit snobby. Her utter infatuation with her cousin was a lot to take, however, it didn’t turn me away from the book. That’s not the first time something like that would have happened in history!

The Story: Matilda Empress follows the life of Matilda, daughter of Henry I. I was pulled into the story quickly. I felt the writing did an excellent job of grabbing the reader and taking them back in time with the book. Matilda’s life is filled with sorrow and struggles, and that was all evident here. I did not particularly care for Matilda, however, I was invested in the story and wanted to know what happened.

Widowed at only 24 and returned to her father, her life seems to spiral a bit out of control. She’s crowned Queen and holds the throne until her cousin, and secret-lover, takes if from her. From this event, a civil war begins, which I did find to drag a bit in places. However, that was not the whole of the story, and the rest of the book seemed to fly by for me!

Overall: This was exactly what I like about historical fiction. I enjoyed learning about someone in history, and getting vivid details that immersed me in the story. I liked this book, and I look forward to future books from Lise Arin!

To Read or Not To Read:

I would recommend Matilda Empress for readers that like a historical fiction that sweeps them into the story. Fans of Philippa Gregory will enjoy this!

Where to Find This Book:

Matilda Empress by Lise Arin is available at these sites.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon | Goodreads | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | Kobo


Matilda, a twelfth-century Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and daughter of Henry I, is twenty-four years old and a widow. She returns to her father’s double realm of England and Normandy and is promptly married against her will to Geoffrey, a minor continental nobleman.

When she is absent from England at the time of her father’s death, Matilda loses her throne to her cousin Stephen despite their ongoing and secret love affair. For almost twenty years, anarchy reins, and their passion fluctuates between hatred and obsession. The only hope in sight is Matilda and Stephen’s two sons, whose rightful claim to the throne may finally end the bloody and endless war.

In the vein of Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, Matilda Empress follows the real history of the early English monarchs, and what happens when a strong woman at the center of great upheaval refuses to play by the rules laid out for her.

Just the Facts:

  • Matilda Empress by Lise Arin
  • Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance
  • Page Count: 448 pages
  • Publisher:  Archer 
  • Pub Date: April 4, 2017

Lise Arin has a PhD in English Literature from Columbia, and an undergraduate degree in History and Literature from Harvard.

She has two children, and lives with her husband in New York City.

Matilda Empress is her first novel, although it has been in the making for twenty years.


I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

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