Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Canterbuy Papers by Judith Koll Healey (Historical mystery)

Description from goodreads:

Set in lavishly described medieval England and France, The Canterbury Papers is an enthralling and suspenseful debut novel combining dark family secrets, duplicity, and a missing heir to the throne.

The wily Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of France and then of England, sends her former ward, Alaïs, the sister of the king of France, to retrieve a cache of letters hidden in Canterbury Cathedral. Letters that, in the wrong hands, could bring down the English king. In return, Eleanor promises to reveal a long-held and dangerous secret involving Alaïs -- a bargain the French princess is powerless to resist.

Before Alaïs can complete her mission, she is abducted, an event that sets in motion a dangerous plot. It will require all of Alaïs's considerable strengths, along with help from the very intriguing leader of the Knights Templar, to unravel dark secrets, unmask evil villains, and escape with her life.

My thoughts:

When I was in college, it was a well known fact that I am not a fan of medieval history. However, through recent viewings of Simon Schama's A History of Britain (the best documentary series ever, imo), I have found I am fascinated by Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. As The Canterbury Papers is set during that time period, I decided to borrow the book from the library.

Alaïs is a French princess who had been pledged to marry Henry and Eleanor's son Richard. She had grown up in the English court. The Canterbury Tales takes place years after her childhood, at the opening of the book, she is a mature woman living at the court of her brother King Philippe of France. She is asked, by Eleanor, to travel to Canterbury to retrieve letters Eleanor sent to Thomas a Becket years earlier. In return for these letters, Eleanor promises to tell Alaïs the truth about her past.

Alaïs' journey is a tale of intrigue, which kept me guessing until the very end. The true allegiances of many characters were not revealed until the end. I often found myself wondering aloud what would happen next.

The Canterbury Papers is subtitled a novel of suspense, I found it to be a novel which kept me guessing until the very end.


Lori Benton said...

Michele, well, the cover is gorgeous! I wasn't a fan of medieval stories either, until I ran across the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. I've just finished Judith Merkle Riley's first book in A Vision of Light series, set in 1355, and enjoyed it very much. I'll check out the Canterbury Papers, and also the documentary you mentioned. I love a good doc and British History (particularly pre-Roman) is an old love of mine.

Thanks for your comment on Laura's blog about my story opening! That was so encouraging to me.


Michelle said...

Lori, I loved the cover too. The one pictured is the cover for the paperback. The one for the hardback was a little different. I just looked up the Judith Merkle Riley books on amazon, those sound very good!

I think you would really enjoy The History of Britain documentary. I'm certain it's probably on netflix. There are five disks with three episodes. The episodes are about an hour long.

I'll be reviewing Judith Koll Healey's other book, The Rebel Princess very soon. It's a sequel to The Canterbury Papers.

Kav said...

Even the cover looks intriguing. This sounds like a great read for when the snow flies and I'm getting cabin fever. Lots in it to distract me.