Sunday, July 29, 2012

White Heart by Sherry Jones

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: July 28, 2012

A woman's power lies in her beauty. For years, Blanche de Castille, the White Queen of France, has lived by this maxim—passed on by her grandmother, ElÉonore d'Aquitaine, as she took the girl to marry King Louis VIII. When her husband dies unexpectedly, however, Blanche finds that beauty is not enough to hold, and command, a kingdom against usurpers eager to wrest the Crown from her woman's grasp. Faced with an English invasion, barons' uprisings, and slanderous rumors, Blanche must look within herself for the strength she needs to guard the throne for her young son. Her bold response shocks the kingdom and shapes her into the formidable, seemingly heartless mother-in-law to Marguerite of Provence, wife of King Louis IX (Saint Louis) and the eldest of the "Four Sisters, All Queens" in Sherry Jones's forthcoming novel.

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I finished Sherry Jones' White Heart yesterday and my head is still spinning. See, I hadn't planned on revisiting the Capets so soon after reading Sophie Perinot’s Sister Queens. Not being overly familiar with the family, I had hoped to do a little research of my own before attempting another fictionalized account of their history. Oh well, best laid plans right?

I had never even heard of Blanche prior to reading Sister Queens and I was quick to grow annoyed with the bitter, manipulative, controlling dowager Perinot created. It wasn’t until reading Jones’ novella that I bothered giving 'the dragon' much thought. Who was this woman? Where did she come from? What sort of hand had life dealt her? It is a testament to both Jones’ imagination and pen that I could so quickly alter my opinion of the French Queen, even more so as her novella is only fifty eight pages long.

Jones doesn't elicit the reader's sympathy by portraying a vulnerable or demure widow. Rather, she sparks their curiosity, painting a dynamic, pragmatic and feisty woman who puts aside her personal needs and desires out of devotion for both her country and her son. It is a beautiful and intriguing characterization placed against an equally alluring backdrop. 

Would that this were a longer piece. I was so impressed by it I can't help wanting more. Highly recommended to any lover of historic fiction. 

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You may win the battle by killing your opponents, but you secure your kingdom - in this life, and the next - by winning their devotion. 
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Sherry Jones said...

I am so glad you enjoyed WHITE HEART! In my novel FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS Blanche, seen from Marguerite's point of view, is indeed an antagonistic character. But I knew from my research what a remarkable woman, and queen, she was. That's why I wrote WHITE HEART -- to show how, and why, she became the way she is in the novel. We are all multi-faceted, are we not? At any rate, I'm glad for your review and I do hope you'll read FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS. I'd love to read your review!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I can't tell you how much I enjoy hearing feedback especially from authors. :)

I'm actually very eager to read Four Sisters, All Queens. This was the first of your books I've had the pleasure of reading and I am already looking for more.