Jones’s excellent new historical (after the prequel, White Heart) reimagines the world of 13th-century Europe and the dramatic true story of four sisters who each became queens. Their influential mother, Beatrice of Savoy and countess of Provence, arranges even before the girls’ births to wed them to powerful men in an effort to ensure the safety of her beloved homeland, which has long been the object of desire of warring parties. Marguerite marries King Louis IX of France, Eléonore weds Henry III of England, Sanchia becomes Queen of the Romans, and Beatrice assumes the crown as Queen of Sicily. Though their mother is thrilled to see her plans come to fruition, the new queens soon become mired in turmoil. Marguerite suffers under her overbearing mother-in-law, the White Queen; Eléonore is roundly disliked by her countrymen; Sanchia is frequently misled by her naiveté; and Beatrice grows into a power-hungry villain. As the young sisters desperately try to maintain ties to one another, the political agendas of their new homes threaten to undermine the bonds of family. Jones’s impeccable eye for detail and beautifully layered plot—each sister narrates her side of the story in alternating chapters—makes this not only a standout historical, but an impressive novel in its own right, regardless of genre. (May)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012 Release date: 05/01/2012 Genre: Fiction
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