Friday, February 24, 2012
Book Talk - THE SISTER QUEENS by Sophie Perinot
Marguerite's comes first, when she is married to Louis IX, the King of France. The two sisters, still very much children, tearfully part from each other in the shared bedroom of their father's castle on the night before Marguerite's departure, destined not to meet again for twenty years.
But their letters to each other bridge the distance between them, even when Eleanor becomes the bride of Henry III, King of England. Though the two Kings clash over land, the sisters continue to send missives as family members rather than Queens of rival countries.
The letters may be able to bridge the gap between their homes, but the dichotomies of their lives are not so easily conquered. Marguerite finds Louis to be a capable and admirable King, yet he is domineered by his mother, and his passion for God far outweighs any interest in his wife.
Henry III is a compassionate and loving husband, a true father to his children and companion to his wife. Yet his kingship leaves much to be desired, and Eleanor can't help but compare his shortcomings with those of Marguerite's husband, especially when Louis takes the cross to go on Crusade.
As the years pass the sisters learn to set aside their rivalry and learn from each other instead, as Marguerite borrows Eleanor's fiery fortitude in an attempt to win back her husband's affection... and ends up falling into the arms of another man instead. Meanwhile, after a political clash with Henry, Eleanor adopts Marguerite's calmer demeanor and sets aside her pride in order to restore her marriage to what it had been.
Spanning twenty years and an array of countries, THE SISTER QUEENS takes the reader to the courts of England and France, the warm and welcoming countryside of Provence, and the bloody crush of the Crusades. Politics and family, Kingly ambitions and sibling rivalry, love and lust all come into play between the pages, unfolding in a mesmerizing story about two Queens who were sisters above all else.