cover image The Falcon’s Eyes

The Falcon’s Eyes

Francesca Stanfill. Harper, $29.99 (832p) ISBN 978-0-06-307422-4

Stanfill (Wakefield Hall) reimagines in her sharp latest medieval abbeys, aristocrats, and Lady Isabelle, the spirited confidante of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Set in France and England at the end of the 12th century, the story follows curious Isabelle, who at 17 marries Gerard, Lord de Meurtaigne, a wealthy, newly titled widower who wants a noble-born wife to give him an heir. Initially, Isabelle is enamored with Gerard and her new opulence, but she also fears Gerard will discover her “furtive life” of hidden relics and potions given to her by a clairvoyant. They divorce after Isabelle fails to produce an heir, and she happily joins the vaunted Fontevraud Abbey as a lay noblewoman. But after Gerard finds one of Isabelle’s secret objects left behind after the divorce, he vows to find and punish Isabelle for casting a spell on his new wife. As Gerard closes in on the abbey, Isabelle escapes to England and becomes a companion to Queen Eleanor, who was exiled by her husband, King Henry II. Fireside vignettes feature Eleanor and Isabelle discussing history, poetry, and philosophy, all while the queen maneuvers to mold the court and preserve her legacy. The enriching dialogue between brave Isabelle and wise Eleanor consistently intrigues, as does the bewitching blend of tainted nobility, secretive domestics, and palace plots. This is a crackling historical. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)