Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review: THE CANTERBURY PAPERS by Judith Koll Healey

Wow I am stunned, this read packs a hidden punch. I really did not know what to expect but whatever I was expecting this read went way beyond that. I can not wait to read the sequel “The Rebel Princess”.

The princess Alais of France has in the past year drawn me into a few reads like “The Queens Pawn” by Christy English. I have not until now had an opportunity to read a novel about Alais’ later years. I had been searching for some read that focuses on her time after Henry II died and after she moved back home. Most importantly to me was the years when her brother Philippe was ruling king of France.

“The Canterbury Papers” was a riveting read to the point where you could read 100 pages easily in one sitting and not have your brain hurt. In reality there is little known documentation of princess Alais' time after she went back home to France. I love Alais’ story even if she grew up in one the most confusing circumstances. Her father was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine. It was not one of the best matches and Eleanor divorced him for the king of England. It was later that he remarried and later had Alais. Her and her sister were sent to the English king and queen, why he sent his little girls to his ex-wife I will never understand. I bet he regretted it until the end of his days. As we all know Eleanor and king Henry II’s love match reached a sour point and Henry locked Eleanor up and separated her from all the children including Alais. In this read Alais was promised to Eleanor’s son Richard who would become Richard the Lion heart the future King of England, she loved Richard but that did not stop his father from plucking one of the untouchable court flowers. In the end the king always got what he wanted and certainly there are consequences for getting down with the king. The question this read covers is did Alias have a child by the king or more logically did the child survive?

The best part of this read is that none of it is set in the above mentioned time frames. I found it pleasurable that the story did intermingle Alais' past with the present. The whole kick off point of the read is when Alais receives a letter from Eleanor; she needs Alais to go on a covert mission to Canterbury cathedral. Her mission objective is to retrieve Eleanor’s letters hidden in the church behind the martyr Becket’s alter. I know you are wondering why Alais would even consider undertaking a dangerous mission for Eleanor’s good given what had passed between them. Eleanor pulls at Alais’ one soft spot she makes a mention of rewarding her for her service with privy information about Alais’ mysterious child that for all she knew was dead and had been dead for sometime. Of course she had to go to Canterbury and she would come to find out like many other nobles of this time period that where ever King John roved no one was safe.

5/5 Word can not even express how intriguing this read was it was mysterious in all aspects. It was like a puzzle that once you completed part of it you make the realization that by solving that one part of it you revealed three more unseen puzzles. Healey amazed me with her fluent gift of story telling, she is reminiscent of the great Elizabeth Chadwick and at one point used my favorite Chadwick’s favorite medieval slang for William Marshall “slugabed”. The other part that makes me think of Chadwick is another welcomed appearance from William Marshall. In case you are wondering in this one he is so hot even in this read. This book was such a joy to read it had the Templar Knights, sneaky queens, and all in the middle of it Alais on a quest for the truth which might not be so forthcoming. I would highly recommend this read to HF medieval enthusiasts.

PG-13 mild violence and mild sexuality
FTC This book was sent to me by the publisher.


  1. Sounds fascinating. I'm so glad you are here posting your reviews of this genre, one of my favorites.

  2. Thanks for this review, Lizzy. This take on Alais' life sounds intriguing...

  3. Thanks for the awesome recommendation - I will be sure to keep a look out for this one!

  4. Yogurt, I have to agree historical fiction is my favorite genre and now it is pretty much all I ever read. It seems like nothing else.

    Christy, you are the one that got me hooked on Alais and now I can not stop looking for more on her. Thank you for getting me hooked on her Christy!

    Dolleygurl, it is a worthy read, one that I know for sure you would enjoy.

  5. Ooohhh Liz you have me soo excited! I am reading this book next and now I can't wait! Yes, yes, yes! I am so glad you liked it!

  6. Allie, you will devour it and it is a fast paced good read. I know you will love it too. Dang dog at my mother in laws house chewed up the sequels spin I am livid about. The book is still readable but it was my precious baby and that monster hurt it. That was Thursday and I am still mad as hell on Sunday.


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