"It can be useful, that subborness. And so can your willfulness. But there will be times in life when you must try your best to pull back, and think: Is this the best way to act? Is this the best strategy?"
Since she was a little girl Isabelle has dreamed of knowing the freedom afforded to her brothers. She longs to explore the world and understand both the past and present. As Isabelle grows she experiences many different types of freedom and quickly learns that not all are equal.
thoughts & feelings
There is a small piece of me that is dreading writing this review. In fact, I've kind of been dreading it since I began reading The Falcon's Eyes. To say that my feelings about this novel are very mixed and complicated is a bit of an understatement. I want to say so much but don't want to give anything away...but I want you to understand my feelings and why I feel them. I promise I will try to keep this short, sweet, and to the point. Ready?
Let's start with something simple, the title. This book is titled The Falcon's Eyes with the subtitle stating "A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine." Don't recognize the name? What if I told you this is the Queen Eleanor who was the queen of France then England. Her second husband, King Henry II, basically had her on house arrest for YEARS while he was at war with two of his sons. To say the least Eleanor of Aquitaine has a very interesting life so I was super excited to read this novel. Well, this novel really doesn't have much to do with Eleanor. It does take place in the time period in which Eleanor lived, Isabelle (leading lady) is very intrigued with Queen Eleanor and her life, and Queen Eleanor does in fact make an appearance in this novel. However, it is not a story about Queen Eleanor and you really don't learn much about her life. We are given rather vague glimpses into her life but I was left with some big questions. Maybe they will be answered in the second book?
I also struggled with the overall passage of time. This book is split into six parts. All of which represent a different point in Isabelle's life. The separations make sense and are actually helpful in helping you notice important shifts in Isabelle's story. The first part of the book is 383 pages long and probably covers the shortest amount of time. We are given a lot of details about the lavishness of Chateau Ravinour as well as the clothes and jewelry gifted to Isabelle by her husband, Gerard. It's a little overkill at times and to be honest I may have jumped forward on occasion. After the first part time passes more easily and the author does a good job covering large gaps of no import.
Don't get me wrong there were some really interesting points to this novel. There were some chapters and parts that I found myself devouring. I enjoyed seeing Isabelle interact amongst different social circles and learning her place in them. I loved watching her form relationships with people in different social classes, even if it was basically a social "no, no." Who doesn't love when the main characters push against societal norms? Each of the relationships feels genuine and we get to see them strengthen and deteriorate over large spaces of time.
My favorite moments throughout the novel circled around Lord and Lady Hauteclare. Upon first meeting them I actually hated them both. Lord Hauteclare totally grossed me out and I could not wait for his visit at Chateau Ravinour to be over! I was a bit weary of Lady Hauteclare but slowly grew to love her. She is a bit outside the box but stands for what she believes to be right. I guarantee that you will come to love this couple as much as I do.
Steam Level: clean, kissing, intimacy is mentioned/alluded to but nothing to worry about.
Language: Lord's name in vain (once)
Content Warnings: religious themes throughout, mentions of war (no actual war "scenes")
Trigger Warnings: miscarriage, still birth, death, suicidal thoughts, emotional abuse
Title: The Falcon's Eyes
Series: This is the first in the series but I cannot find the actual series name
Author: Francesca Stanfill