Here I go again about to gush over yet another great historical read – this one being The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot! In The Sister Queens, Perinot takes two Queens, Marguerite of France and Eleanor of England, and brings history to life. The Sister Queens has it all… court life, balls, rivalry, politics, love and lust; with the added element of it seeming so real to the reader as though watching a film. A fantastic debut!
Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence have been brought up to marry well from a very young age in order to further their family. They are beautiful girls and are taught in all the things important for that era from needlework to music in order to make the perfect match. Marguerite, being the eldest, is married first to Louis IX, the King of France. Eleanor, a while later, is married to Henry III, the King of England. The girls are but children still when married, being thirteen and twelve and while they’ve always been rivals they also deeply love and miss each other. They will not see each other again for almost twenty years but they will write constantly.
At first Marguerite is very happy. Louis is an attentive husband although much too easily led by his mother. As time wears on Louis becomes more and more obsessed with his passion for God and listening to his mother and begins to spend less and less time with Marguerite. She is becoming more and more unhappy – maybe unhappy enough to stray in her marriage. Eleanor, on the other hand, has a good marriage from the start that only seems to grow stronger over time with a few bumps along the way. As is their way, both women compare their husbands and want what the other is lacking – Louis being a good king but not the best husband and Henry not being the best ruler but a good family man. The years pass and Marguerite goes on a Crusade with Louis and spends six years away from her children. Eleanor learns to tame her fiery temper somewhat and learns better how to deal with Henry. Above all the sisters always have each other through their words and letters.
The novel is told in alternating chapters between the sisters and I really enjoyed this format, always finding myself anxious to get back to the other sister’s life. Another thing that really puts this novel above some others is that the author fleshes out all of her characters. Yes it’s a story about Marguerite and Eleanor and yet you come away from reading this book with a look into their husband’s lives as well. Marguerite and Eleanor’s story follows them over the span of twenty years. Both women were strong and independent and the author draws you into both of their lives and has you rooting for each of them. My only wish is that the novel would have continued on to the end of both of their lives. Although the novel is a little over five hundred pages, I wanted more! Sophie Perinot is definitely an author to watch and I can’t wait to read what she writes next!
I read The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot for her book tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other tour stops and see what everyone else is saying about the book. Make sure to check out Sophie’s website and blog and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter as well! Your own copy of The Sister Queens can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
Please stop by next week on Wednesday when Sophie joins us with a guest post and giveaway!
Source: Review copy provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the Publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.