A Writer's Journey

September 17, 2012

Book Analysis: The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

Filed under: journey,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , ,

**Note: Once again, this is not a review. If you want to read a review, I have one up on Goodreads and another on Amazon.**

“The Sister Queens” by Sophie Perinot tells the story of Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence, two sisters from the powerful Savoy family. Marguerite marries Louis of France while Eleanor marries Henry of England. The book follows their adventures and romances in their respective courts.

Warning: Spoilers may follow

Out of the two sisters, Eleanor has the smoother romance. Henry is immediately besotted with his new bride and over time, Eleanor grows to love him. There are a few bumps, mostly caused by power clashes between Henry’s barons and Eleanor’s Savoy relatives. Easily smoothed out and nothing much else. Unfortunately, it meant I found Eleanor’s story boring. And I don’t think it had to be.

So what do I think happened? Ask a writer if a character has ever run away from them and you will get stories. I can tell them myself. And I think that may have happened here with Ms. Perinot. Marguerite ends up coming off as more interesting and I think it’s because she grabbed the author. But Ms. Perinot was determined to tell both stories. And I think the beginning hurt for it.

Why? Because one of my main complaints is that it was originally paced way too fast. And it was more telling than showing. I felt it took too long to connect with either character. And it was more telling than description. For example, Marguerite has difficulty conceiving a child. When do we learn she finally does? Halfway through a section regarding Christmas in Paris where it’s revealed she’s five months pregnant. I’m not sure about you, but this doesn’t allow me to connect to a character as a reader. After almost connecting with her desire to have a child, I want to see the moment where she learns she will be a mother. To experience those emotions and complete my connection.

It’s not just Marguerite who suffers from this. Eleanor has this problem as well. When she is giving birth to her first child, Perinot glazes over it. And it’s very obvious. If she had started labor and then it cut away to after the child was born, it would’ve been okay. But not this way. We are told Eleanor’s water breaks and Henry goes to fetch the midwife. We then get a sentence or two about how much labor hurts and out pops the baby. No. Just no. I was annoyed and wanted more. Don’t just tell us labor hurts. Show us.

But once Perinot slows down, the story becomes engaging. It’s seen in how she builds the relationship between Jean and Marguerite. I think it’s her strong suit and I’m surprised she didn’t ply it to Eleanor. While Henry loved his wife the moment he saw her, it took some time for Eleanor to reciprocate. Why not show us this? Perhaps Eleanor’s story would be a touch more interesting.

If I were writing this, I may have realized I needed to dump Eleanor’s story. Or if I was determined to write it—as Ms. Perinot’s notes at the end of the book indicate she was—I’d have taken a critical look at it. See if I can strengthen it to the level I had brought it to Marguerite’s level.

Unless it was the illicit element of Jean and Marguerite’s romance that elevated Perinot’s interest and therefore her writing. Either way, theirs was one of the best things about the book.


1 Comment »

  1. I went to amazon and goodreads and then found my way back to you because I adore you 😉


    Comment by rebecca2000 — September 17, 2012 @ 4:08 am | Reply

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