Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: The Sister Queens

The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA (Berkley NAL)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 503pp
ISBN-13: 978-0451235701
ISBN: 0451235703

(Received for an honest review from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Sophie Perinot on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from The Sister Queens (Courtesy of Unusual Historicals Blog)



Raised at the court of their father, Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence, Marguerite and Elanor 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 is a stunning debut novel - passionate, romantic, and epic in scope - from a writer who beautifully evokes the life of the court in thirteenth-century France and England. 


Debut author Sophie Perinot brings readers the tale of two sisters. Both queens and both very different. In The Sister Queens, Perinot writes with rich flavor and attention to the smallest of details. She brings to life the reigns of both Henry III and Louis IX and the women who loved them. This both takes sibling rivalry to a whole new level and shows the bonds that exist between sisters despite being separated by miles and country boundaries. Historical fiction fans can't afford to miss this dynamic debut novel by a strong new voice in the genre.

Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres. I love to think about how historical figures may have been behind closed doors. What their thoughts and feelings were and what made them tick. I think the best historical fiction novels give these historical figures a personality, a story and most importantly a voice. Sophie Perinot's debut novel, The Sister Queens is just such a book. Perinot takes two famous women and gives them their own voices, telling their stories from life at court to the closed doors of Kings chambers. Marguerite and Eleanor are women many have read about in their history books, but who have been elusive, as far as, details about their own thoughts and feelings. Perinot brings them to life in this novel.

Marguerite is the soft spoken older sister, who is calm in the face of any storm until that storm becomes her own marriage to Louis IX. Being Queen of France may be an important position but when your husband is more fond of the church than he is of you, that can be hard to swallow. I can just imagine the heartbreak and loneliness that Marguerite must have felt and Sophie Perinot really gets into Marguerite's head. Marguertie believes her husband to be a good king who makes decisions that benefit his people yet she is tempted to find real love even if it is forbidden.

Eleanor on the other hand has a fiery temper. Her pride is strong and she wants nothing more than be Queen of England. Her husband Henry III is a loving companion, a good father and a very good man, but he is a terrible king and as his failures mount up, Eleanor can hardly remain quiet. Disappointed and disillusioned she considers throwing in the towel. She continually compares her own husband to that of her sisters. The rivalry between them has existed as long as they have, but the love these sisters share is their strongest bond. 

Beyond the portrayals of the characters Perinot also excels at the details of the thirteenth century, whether in France or England. This book shows impeccable research and the ability to put those details to good use. To bring out the most important things and know what to leave out. Perinot's descriptions of court life were vivid and riveting. Her portrayal of the crusades and their brutality was gripping. This is one of the few historical fiction stories that I've read lately that I would consider a page turner. There is so much going on in this book, that it will be difficult for the reader to get anything else done besides reading. Very well researched and written.

I loved the dynamic between the sisters and how they were able to draw on the strengths of the other's character to help them through situations in their own lives. I also liked the authors notes and the discussion questions at the back of the book, nice touch. I thought Perinot did a fantastic job with this book. I am really surprised that it is a debut novel. If this is Perinot's first book, I can't imagine how much better the ones that follow will be. If you are a historical fiction fan you don't want to miss this one! It's a keeper!

The Sister Queens is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Sophie Perinot writes historical fiction. Her debut novel, "The Sister Queens," will be released by NAL in Spring 2012. Set in 13th century France and England, "The Sister Queens" weaves the captivating story of medieval sisters, Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, who both became queens - their lifelong friendship, their rivalry, and their reigns

Ms. Perinot has both a BA in History and a law degree. She left the practice of 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.


Marg said...

I am really interesting in reading this book when I can get my hands on it!

justpeachy36 said...

You won't be disappointed Marg... it's a good one!

justpeachy36 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee said...

I too love Dumas and can't wait to read this book. I am anxiously awaiting it!

oloore said...

Very interesting and appealing book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it.

justpeachy36 said...

I'm a historical fiction fan from way back and this one really hit the spot for me, I know you are all going to love it.