"With her eye for historical detail and flair for sympathetic heroines, Francesca Stanfill breathes new life into the medieval court of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The Falcon’s Eyes is a novel of epic proportions that succeeds in being both intimate and vast. History is Stanfill’s canvas, humanity her inspiration."—Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
“Stanfill has persuasively re-imagined the Middle Ages, surrounding the legendary Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine with indelible characters in an immersive tale of intrigue, bravery, ruthlessness, and compassion. . . . The Falcon’s Eyes is a dazzling adventure, with riveting twists and turns and a surprising yet deeply satisfying conclusion."—Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen
Set in France and England at the end of the twelfth century, the moving story of a spirited, questing young woman, Isabelle, who defies convention to forge a remarkable life, one profoundly influenced by the fabled queen she idolizes and comes to know – Eleanor of Aquitaine
Willful and outspoken, sixteen-year-old Isabelle yearns to escape her stifling life in provincial twelfth century France. The bane of her mother’s existence, she admires the notorious queen most in her circle abhor: Eleanor of Aquitaine. Isabelle’s arranged marriage to Gerard --- a rich, charismatic lord obsessed with falcons --- seems, at first, to fulfill her longing for adventure. But as Gerard’s controlling nature, and his consuming desire for a male heir, become more apparent, Isabelle, in the spirit of her royal heroine, makes bold, often perilous, decisions which will forever affect her fate.
A suspenseful, sweeping tale about marriage, freedom, identity, and motherhood, THE FALCON’S EYES brings alive not only a brilliant century and the legendary queen who dominated it, but also the vivid band of complex characters whom the heroine encounters on her journey to selfhood: noblewomen, nuns, servants, falconers, and courtiers. The various settings — Château Ravinour, Fontevraud Abbey, and Queen Eleanor’s exiled court in England — are depicted as memorably as those who inhabit them. The story pulses forward as Isabelle confronts one challenge, one danger, after another, until it hurtles to its final, enthralling, page.
With the historical understanding of Hillary Mantel and the storytelling gifts of Ken Follett, Francesca Stanfill has created an unforgettable character who, while firmly rooted in her era, is also a woman for all times.
Stanfill (Wakefield Hall) reimagines in her sharp latest medieval abbeys, aristocrats, and Lady Isabelle, the spirited confidante of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Set in France and England at the end of the 12th century, the story follows curious Isabelle, who at 17 marries Gerard, Lord de Meurtaigne, a wealthy, newly titled widower who wants a noble-born wife to give him an heir. Initially, Isabelle is enamored with Gerard and her new opulence, but she also fears Gerard will discover her "furtive life" of hidden relics and potions given to her by a clairvoyant. They divorce after Isabelle fails to produce an heir, and she happily joins the vaunted Fontevraud Abbey as a lay noblewoman. But after Gerard finds one of Isabelle's secret objects left behind after the divorce, he vows to find and punish Isabelle for casting a spell on his new wife. As Gerard closes in on the abbey, Isabelle escapes to England and becomes a companion to Queen Eleanor, who was exiled by her husband, King Henry II. Fireside vignettes feature Eleanor and Isabelle discussing history, poetry, and philosophy, all while the queen maneuvers to mold the court and preserve her legacy. The enriching dialogue between brave Isabelle and wise Eleanor consistently intrigues, as does the bewitching blend of tainted nobility, secretive domestics, and palace plots. This is a crackling historical.