The Other Boleyn Girl fans — welcome new kid on the block, Sophie Perinot and her historical fiction debut about two very different, very strong sisters. Word on the street (rather, consensus among historical fiction bloggers) is that this is an author to watch whose book is a page-turner, fast-paced, emotional, passionate, well-written and carefully researched.
As long as we’re on the subject of historical fiction, another reason to celebrate. Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles has won the Orange Prize! I couldn’t be happier after giving it a starred review here and interviewing the author here. The Orange Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.
Adult/High School–Kings, knights, the Crusades, and all the pageantry of 13th-century Europe come to life in this story of two beautiful young women born into one wealthy and powerful family, destined to be royal brides. Marguerite, 13, is sent to wed Louis IX, King of France. She is the older sister but less bold and confident than 12-year-old Eleanor. When Marguerite meets her husband on their wedding day she is charmed by his incredible good looks and kind, gentle manner. She anticipates a love match, but looks are deceiving. His attention is directed solely to God. He is greatly influenced by his mother, “the dragon”; rarely gives Marguerite his attention; and scarcely graces her bed. Not long after, Eleanor is wed to King Henry III of England. She anticipates a loveless marriage for he is old and not at all handsome. But she, too, is deceived and discovers that he is attentive and loving. The women tell their story through alternating narratives and letters to each other. As their story progresses, the kings prove to be none other than what history records: Henry is a poor king and Louis is pious in the extreme. While Marguerite finds passionate love in the arms of another, Eleanor endeavors to help her husband rule his country. Both struggle to survive at a time when women faced multiple births, arduous journeys following their men across continents, war, and little control over their own lives. But these two women discover that influence lies in their sisterhood and in their proximity to royal power; they can affect history. Romance and history loving teens will find this a satisfying read.–Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA