Saturday, September 26, 2009
Once upon a time, when the country of France as we know it today did not yet exist, there lived four beautiful princesses in a magical kingdom known as Provence. Not one of them pricked her finger on a spindle, kissed a frog, or was locked up in a forgotten tower. Actually the true story of their lives, chronicled by Nancy Goldstone in her book,The Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters who Ruled Europe, turns out to be more fascinating than pretty much any fairy tale. Marguerite, Eleanor, Beatrice, and Sanchia found themselves at the center of all the political and religious intrigue of the 13th century, eventually becoming queens of France, England, Sicily, and Germany. I wouldn't say they all lived happily ever after but there's plenty of juicy stuff here: trips to exotic lands, ransoms, wars, contracts made and broken, scheming mothers and uncles, family feuds, and heaps of treasure. If you thought the Middle Ages were dull, think again. Goldstone paints a vivid picture that has pretty much any fairy tale beat.