Thursday, March 29, 2012
The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot
"Like most sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor were rivals....they were also queens.
Raised at the court of their father, Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence, Marguerite and Eleanor are separated by royal marriages...but never truly parted.
Patient, perfect, reticent, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. Her husband, Louis IX, is considered the greatest monarch of his age. But he is also a religious zealot who denies himself all pleasure...including the love and companionship his wife so desperately craves. Can Marguerite find enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in the guise of forbidden love?
Passionate, strong willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Her husband, Henry III, is neither as young nor as dashing as Marguerite's. But she quickly discovers he is a very good man...and a very bad king. His failures are bitter disappointments for Eleanor, who has worked to best her elder sister since childhood. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?"
The Sister Queens was a lovely dual portrait of two historical figures, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, the two elder Savoyard daughters whose marriages were arranged for political power and prestige. One is destined to become queen in the French court of the devout Louis IX and the other to the English King Henry III, and although they were separated throughout many years, their relationship stood the test of time.
Like contemporary sisters today, they shared their secrets, their hopes and dreams, their joys and sorrows, and yes, even harbored anger and jealousy toward each other -- but sister-ties are a strong bond, and these two "sister queens" shared a special relationship. The novel unfolded through (fictional) letters written to each other over the span of twenty years, and each sister narrated her own story so the reader experienced their inner-most thoughts and feelings. While leading the life of a royal wife in the 13th century certainly has little bearing on life today, the relationships each sister shared with her husband, children, and extended family is certainly relevant to today's reader. We can sympathize with someone trapped in an unfulfilled marriage, or share tears with someone when they remain childless and want desperately to have a child...perhaps we've even listened with trepidation and judgment as someone we love is involved in a liaison that we know will eventually only lead to heartache or scandal. Through battles, crusades to the Holy Land, and personal and political triumphs and sorrows, Marguerite and Eleanor stood behind their two powerful husbands and kings, but.....
"Tis sisters who shape the world plain and simple."
Sophie Perinot writes historical fiction. Ms. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. She left the law to pursue artistic interests, including writing. An avid reader, especially of classic literature, and life-long student of history, it seemed only natural that Sophie should write historical fiction. As someone who studied French abroad and a devotee of Alexandre Dumas, French history was a logical starting point. An active member of the Historical Novel Society, she has attended all of the group’s North American Conferences.
Active among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal (a moniker she also uses at Agent Query Connect www.agentqueryconnect.com), Sophie is a regular contributor to the group writers' blog From the Write Angle. You can also find her on facebook here.
For more information, please visit Sophie Perinot's WEBSITE.
For other tour information about The Sister Queens, please click here.
****I received a copy of The Sister Queens from Penguin Books as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to Amy of HFVBT and Penguin Books for the opportunity to review this book.********