-In my twenties I became fascinated with the 12th century when I realised it was the era that established much of what we celebrate and revile today: romantic love; war between Christianity and Islam; celibacy in the Church; the rule of law; oppression of women and their fight against it; trial by jury; academies in Oxford and Paris that grew into the West's first universities. It was a time of upheaval. Personalities with great virtues and great flaws led it, among them the warrior, Henry, founder of England's longest lasting dynasty, the Plantagenets; I've chosen to call him 'The Young Lion".' – Blanche d'Alpuget
Geoffrey the Handsome, the charming Duke of Normandy seduces Queen Eleanor of France to spy for him. Said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe, and very rich, Eleanor has not been able to give birth to an heir for France. Her liaison with Geoffrey could remedy that – or lead to her downfall and Geoffrey's death. But what begins with cool calculation becomes a passionate affair. When Geoffrey's warrior son Henry is forced to intervene to save their lives, he falls foul of the French queen – and passionately in love with her Byzantine maid. Should he become King of England, however, this dazzling foreign girl will never be acceptable as his queen.
These two relationships – both forbidden, both perilous – are at the centre of a tale of consuming ambition, family vengeance and political intrigue set in the glorious flowering of troubadour culture, mysticism and learning that is 12th-century France.
Blanche d'Alpuget Blanche d'Alpuget is an acclaimed novelist, biographer and essayist. She has won numerous literary awards including the prestigious Australasian Prize for Commonwealth Literature in 1987.
Her previous novels include Monkeys in the Dark (1980); Turtle Beach (1981) which won The Age book award in 1981; Winter in Jerusalem (1986) and White Eye (1993). Turtle Beach became a successful feature film in 1992 and all her novels have been translated into other languages. Her non-fiction books include Mediator: A biography of Sir Richard Kirby (1977) and Robert J Hawke: A biography (1982). Her essays include Lust (1993) and On Longing (2008).
The Young Lion
Author: Blanche d'Alpuget