A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg
Over the last year, I have been fascinated by Eleanor of Aquitaine and the whole intriguing history of Europe in the 11th through 13th centuries. The historical fiction of Sharon Penman has been my guide, not to mention addiction. Her series on Eleanor and Henry II, especially Devil’s Brood and her 3-novel series The Queen’s Man immersed me in the medieval world of England, Wales, France, and Germany, and the stunning intrigue that was life for people during those times. Years ago, when Meghan was the age of the twins–a middle school student–one of her favorite books was A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver. I remember reading it and enjoying it, but all I remembered was that it dealt with Eleanor of Aquitaine and it was a great read. So. Time to reacquaint myself.
What a revelation! This short novel covered the most important people in Eleanor’s life as well as the highlights of this amazing woman’s legacy. The premise is that Eleanor has been dead for quite a while and is waiting for her husband Henry II to arrive in Heaven. (He had to spend a couple of hundred more years in Hell than she did, thus the delay.) As she impatiently waits to continue their conversations that she has missed, different characters from her life fill in for others amazing history. She was married to two kings, both Louis of France and Henry II of England. And she was the mother to two English kings, Richard the Lionhearted and John. She lived a long and rich life–82 years! –and bore 10 children. And this was despite being imprisoned by her second husband, Henry II for 16 years for inciting a rebellion against him. If today’s readers are anything like me (and Meghan), this novel will be a pathway for more historical fiction and a dive into medieval history. Well-written, witty, and historically accurate, this is a wonderful read to recommend to middle school, high school, and adult readers. Then, you might want to dig in to Share K. Penman’s novels. Happy reading.