by Sherry Jones
This short novel, based on Jones’s character of ‘The White Queen’, Blanche of Castile, is a companion to her full-length novel, Four Sisters, All Queens. With a tight grip on her son, King Louis IX, Blanche alienates her daughter-in-law, Margaret of Provence, and has the reader wondering why her young husband allowed his mother to rule beside him.
This intimate view into the year after the death of Blanche’s husband, King Louis VIII, gives us a glimpse into her persona—her strengths and weaknesses–and what guided her decision to remain France’s ruling Queen instead of retiring to Fontevraud Abbey.
Like her grandmother before her, the venerable Eleanor of Aquitaine, Blanche was immensely attractive, as well as politically apt and was lauded by her husband as a helpmeet essential to the governing of France. For her to retire to a convent at the age of 38 would have been disastrous, although the barons wanted her power for themselves. This struggle is the basis for White Heart.
Jones’s descriptive prose remains the strong suit of her novels, just above her superb characterizations and historical accuracy. This is a short novel and if you’ve not read Four Sisters, All Queens it gives a little taste of what’s to come. Though, if you have read it, White Heart ties up a few loose strings when pondering Blanche’s character in the book. Either way, it is a wonderful addition to the author’s works and expanded would make an excellent full-length novel.