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, and used to being first, Marguerite becomes Queen of France. But Louis IX is a religious zealot who denies himself the love and companionship his wife craves. Can she borrow enough of her sister's boldness to grasp her chance for happiness in a forbidden love?
Passionate, strong-willed, and stubborn, Eleanor becomes Queen of England. Henry III is a good man, but not a good king. Can Eleanor stop competing with her sister and value what she has, or will she let it slip away?
My Thoughts: There is so much I want to say about this book that I don't even know where to start. I loved the story of these two sisters-Marguerite the firstborn who becomes Queen of France and Eleanor who becomes Queen of England. We are introduced to both of them as young girls who share a strong sisterly bond but are also very competitive with each other. Despite their impending separation due to their respective marriages, Marguerite and Eleanor are determined to maintain their closeness. We follow Marguerite as she weds her handsome intended-King Louis IX-but despite a promising start to the marriage she has a loathsome mother-in-law to contend with and yet another never ending and losing battle to fight for her husband's affections-his love for God. Eleanor goes off to the English court to marry Henry III and while her husband is not the most handsome of men, Eleanor soon comes to love him. Their love is strong but their marriage will not be easy as her King makes impulsive decisions that are often not the best politically.
Each chapter opens with a letter from one sister to the other relating what is happening in their lives and sharing confidences. In Marguerite and Eleanor Sophie Perinot manages to create two characters who are polar opposites but equally interesting and believable. Through the story of these two sisters I also learned quite a bit about their husbands and the politics of the time-the political blunders from the English court, the ongoing disputes between the two courts over the lands lost by Henry's predecessor King John, and also the Crusades to the Holy Land made by the French Court. This book is over 500 pages long but there was so much going on and I was so invested in the story that I breezed right through this.
While none of them are too graphic, I did want to mention that there are a fair amount of sex scenes in the book. Usually one of the main things that bother me in historical fiction novels are when they go all bodice ripper on me. I think the the love scenes contained in this book were well done and didn't bother me too much but I wanted to mention it in case it is also an area of contention for others.
I know it is early in the year but this is definitely among my favorites of books read in 2012 so far. I know I'll be recommending this to everyone I know who loves historical fiction and putting this author on my "buy immediately" list for her future releases.
I received this book from the publisher to read for Sophie's tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. These are my honest thoughts on the book.
I am excited to be able to offer a copy of The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot to one lucky winner!
This giveaway is open to: US
To enter: Leave your name and email address in the comments. One extra entry each will be given for helping spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, or posting on your blog.
Giveaway is open until: midnight on March 16th. Winner will be announced on the 17th.
For more giveaways and reviews of The Sister Queens and guest posts/interviews with author Sophie Perinot visit HERE to see the rest of the tour schedule.
You can also visit Sophie on her website www.sophieperinot.com