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A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver (1973)

by E. L. Konigsburg

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1,0761613,156 (3.91)29
While waiting in heaven for divine judgement to be passed on her second husband, Eleanor of Aquitaine and three of the people who knew her well recall the events of her life.

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
My friend Dongyi recommended this book to me in seventh grade. I never really got into it, and then I lost it and had to pay a fine, so I don't have particularly fond memories of it.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
A really good way to get younger people in 5th/6th-high school, even beyond, to understand history. ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
Six-word review: Medieval royalty brought to vivid life.

Extended review:

It's hard for me to know how to rate this book. I almost never read young adult literature, and so I have little or no basis of comparison. On the one hand, it hardly seems fair to place it alongside major, large-scale works of serious adult fiction; on the other, it seems to me that within the YA genre I would be likely to find far more works that rank below it than above it.

So I'm giving it four stars, meaning, in this case, that I'm guessing it to be something very good within its class.

Told in a fictional style, and structured within a self-evidently fictitious frame, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver is the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, one-time queen of France and later of England through her marriage to Henry II in 1152. Eleanor is depicted as a strong-willed, intelligent, politically savvy woman who knows her own mind and understands her worth. Her title to the great lands of Aquitaine in France gives her great power in twelfth-century Europe. It is she who has the proud taste for luxuries, among them cloth of scarlet and the white fur called miniver, which, surprisingly, is never defined or described in the book.

Author Konigsburg, of whose other work I know nothing at all, has a knack for vivid characterizations of historical figures. She knows the art of depicting complex situations and relationships in simple terms. She deals with well-known, major episodes in history--the start of the Second Crusade, the murder of Thomas Becket, the rivalry between King Richard the Lion Heart and his brother Prince John, the turning of Henry's sons against him, the imprisonment of Eleanor for treason--in engaging, straightforward language without trivializing them. The style of delivery is entertaining and readily accessible without feeling condescending.

Although the history of this period and these royal figures is not unfamiliar to me, I learned some new things from reading this book--a quick, easy read of 200 short pages. A dry recital of facts it is not. It seems likely to me that the book might succeed in furthering and even awakening a young person's interest in the time, the places, and the people who populate this charming book. ( )
2 vote Meredy | Jan 1, 2016 |
A conversation in heaven among several figures in Eleanor of Aquitaine's life awaiting King Henry's judgement after suffering hundreds of years in the afterlife. Lively dialog keeps the history interesting and light. A good overview for the young or those unfamiliar with this important figure in history. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
This book would be good to use when talking about 12th century England or the royals around that time. I think students would like this book because it is told in an interesting perspective that is not seen very often. ( )
  Kate_Schulte078 | May 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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For Manci and for David,
who taught me freedom from its two directions.
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During her lifetime Eleanor of Aquitaine had not been a patient woman.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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While waiting in heaven for divine judgement to be passed on her second husband, Eleanor of Aquitaine and three of the people who knew her well recall the events of her life.
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