Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A historical fiction novel that follows Eleanor of Aquitaine as she reflects on her life in heaven.


"A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver" by E.L. Konigsburg is a historical fiction novel that takes readers on a captivating journey through the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most powerful and influential women in the Middle Ages. Through a unique blend of humor, drama, and historical accuracy, Konigsburg weaves a compelling narrative that brings to life the vibrant personalities and political intrigue of medieval Europe.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in the 12th century, primarily in England and France, and revolves around the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor, a remarkable woman known for her intelligence and beauty, was the Queen of France and later the Queen of England. The novel delves into her tumultuous relationships with her husbands, King Louis VII of France and King Henry II of England, as well as her children, including the infamous King Richard the Lionheart and King John.

Main Characters

Eleanor of AquitaineA powerful and intelligent woman who defies the traditional roles of women in medieval society. She is determined to wield influence and power.
King Henry IIThe King of England, known for his charisma, political astuteness, and tumultuous relationship with Eleanor.
King Louis VIIThe King of France, Eleanor's first husband, and a devout man whose marriage to Eleanor is marked by political and personal struggles.
King Richard the LionheartEleanor and Henry's son, a fearless and valiant warrior who becomes a legendary figure in English history.
King JohnAnother son of Eleanor and Henry, known for his controversial reign as King of England.

Chapters Summary

Chapter 1-5: The Early Years

The novel introduces Eleanor as a young girl growing up in the splendor of the Court of Poitiers. Her intelligence and ambition set her apart from other noblewomen of her time. Her marriage to King Louis VII of France is arranged, and she becomes Queen of France.

Chapter 6-10: Marriage to Henry II

Eleanor's marriage to King Henry II of England brings her to the English court. The couple's relationship is marked by political machinations, power struggles, and the birth of their children, including Richard the Lionheart and King John.

Chapter 11-15: Turmoil and Tensions

Tensions rise between Eleanor and Henry as they clash over power, loyalty, and the upbringing of their children. Eleanor's influence in the court and her efforts to secure power for her sons lead to further discord.

Chapter 16-20: Political Intrigues

Eleanor's involvement in the political machinations of medieval Europe intensifies as she navigates the complexities of royal alliances, wars, and the ambitions of her sons. Her relationships with other powerful figures, such as Thomas Becket, further shape the course of history.

Chapter 21-25: Legacy and Reflection

As Eleanor grows older, she reflects on her life, her triumphs, and her regrets. The novel delves into her enduring legacy and the impact she had on the political landscape of Europe.

Main Events

  • Eleanor's marriage to King Louis VII of France
  • Her marriage to King Henry II of England
  • The birth and upbringing of her children, including Richard the Lionheart and King John
  • Political intrigues and power struggles within the English court
  • Eleanor's involvement in shaping the political landscape of medieval Europe
  • Her reflections on her life and legacy as she grows older

Themes and Insights

Power and Influence

The novel explores the complexities of power dynamics within medieval royal courts, particularly through the lens of Eleanor's unwavering determination to wield influence and shape the course of history.

Gender Roles and Expectations

Eleanor's defiance of traditional gender roles and her refusal to be confined by societal expectations offer insights into the challenges faced by women in a male-dominated world.

Family and Legacy

The intricate dynamics of familial relationships, the impact of parental influence on children, and the enduring legacy of influential figures are prominent themes throughout the novel.

Political Intrigues and Alliances

Readers gain insight into the intricate web of political alliances, betrayals, and strategic maneuvering that characterized medieval European politics.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver" offers readers a compelling and insightful journey through the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a remarkable woman whose influence reverberated throughout medieval Europe. The novel provides a rich tapestry of historical detail, political intrigue, and personal drama, offering readers a captivating glimpse into the life of one of history's most fascinating figures.


In conclusion, "A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver" is a captivating historical fiction novel that skillfully brings to life the extraordinary story of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Through its engaging narrative and rich historical detail, the novel offers readers an immersive experience that illuminates the complexities of power, influence, and personal relationships in the medieval world. E.L. Konigsburg's masterful storytelling ensures that readers are not only entertained but also enlightened by the enduring legacy of a truly remarkable woman.

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver FAQ

  1. What is 'A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver' about?

    The book is a historical fiction novel that follows the afterlife of Eleanor of Aquitaine as she reminisces about her life and the people she knew while waiting in heaven for her second husband, Henry II, to join her.

  2. Is this book suitable for children?

    Yes, the book is suitable for children as it provides an engaging and accessible introduction to historical figures and events.

  3. What age group is this book recommended for?

    The book is recommended for readers aged 10 and above, but it can also be enjoyed by adults interested in historical fiction.

  4. Does the book contain any mature content?

    The book is appropriate for younger readers and does not contain mature content.

  5. What makes this book unique?

    The unique perspective of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the afterlife and the way the author weaves historical events and characters into the story make this book stand out.