A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver

by E. L. Konigsburg


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Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife to two kings, mother to two others, has been waiting in Heaven a long time -- eight centuries, more or less -- to be reunited with her second husband, Henry II of England. Finally, the day has come when Henry will be judged for admission. While Eleanor, never a patient woman in life or afterlife, waits, three people, each of whom was close to Eleanor during a time of her life, join her. Their reminiscences do far more than help distract Eleanor -- they also paint a rich portrait of an extraordinary woman who was front and center in a remarkable period in history and whose accomplishments have had an important influence on society through the ages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689846243
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 10/01/2001
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 286,650
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

E.L. Konigsburg is the only author to have won the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year. In 1968, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth was named a Newbery Honor Book. Almost thirty years later she won the Newbery Medal once again for The View from Saturday. Among her other acclaimed books are Silent to the Bone, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, and The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World.

Read an Excerpt

DURING HER LIFETIME Eleanor of Aquitaine had not been a patient woman. While she had lived, she had learned to bide her time, but biding one's time is a very different thing from patience. After she had died, and before she had arrived in Heaven, it had been necessary for Eleanor to learn some patience. Heaven wouldn't allow her Up until she had. But there were times, like today, when she wasn't sure whether she had really learned any patience at all or whether she had simply become too tired to be quarrelsome.

Today she was restless. She paced back and forth so rapidly that the swish of her robes ruffled the treetops below. For today was the day when her husband, King Henry II of England, was to be judged. Today she would at last know whether or not — after centuries of waiting — he would join her in Heaven.

Henry had died even before she had. He had died in the year 1189, in July of that year, and Eleanor had spent fifteen years on Earth beyond that. But Eleanor's life had not been perfect; she had done things on Earth for which there had been some Hell to pay, so she had not arrived in Heaven immediately. Finally, the world's poets had pleaded and won her case. Eleanor had been a friend of music and poetry while she had lived, and musicians, artists and poets play an important role in the admissions policies of Heaven; with their pull Eleanor had moved Up. Even so, she had not arrived in Heaven until two centuries after she had died and long after her first husband and some of her best friends had made it. Now it was late in the twentieth century, and Henry still had not moved Up.

Eleanor began drumming her fingers on a nearby cloud.

"You keep that up, and you'll have the Angels to answer to for it," said a voice, one cloud removed.

"Oh, Mother Matilda, I swear you could nag a person to a second death."

A man sitting beside Mother Matilda pleaded, "Your mother-in-law is only reminding you that we have all been requested to stop drumming our fingers and to stop racing back and forth. The Angels don't appreciate having to answer hundreds of requests for better television reception."

"I know, William, I know," Eleanor answered.

"After all," Mother Matilda added, "we are every bit as anxious as you are to know the outcome of today's Judgment."

"You ought to be patient, my lady," William said.

"Yes," Eleanor answered. "I know. I know what I ought to be. I have always known what I ought to be."

But the truth was that Eleanor actually enjoyed not being patient. When she felt impatient, she felt something close to being alive again. Even after more than five hundred years in Heaven, Eleanor of Aquitaine still missed quarreling and dressing up. Eleanor missed strong, sweet smells. Eleanor missed feeling hot and being cold. Eleanor missed Henry. She missed life.

She sighed. She wanted to be there the minute Henry arrived — if he would; there was a great deal to tell him. It had taken Eleanor almost five hundred years to catch up on the two hundred she had missed. She often thought that the worst thing about time spent in Hell is that a person has no way of knowing what is happening on Earth. In Heaven at least, one could watch, even if one could not participate. Only Saints and Angels were allowed to interfere in Earthly affairs. Everyone in Heaven had periods of Earth time about which they knew nothing. Everyone except the Saints; they always came Up immediately following death, and, of course, Heaven had always been home to the Angels. But Saints were hardly the people to contact when you wanted to catch up on the news. Most of them had been more concerned with Heaven than with Earth even during their lifetimes, and now it was almost impossible to move them even a whisper away from the Angels.

Table of Contents

Inside Heaven1
Part I
Abbot Suger's Tale13
Back in Heaven71
Part II
Matilda-Empress's Tale75
Back in Heaven121
Part III
William the Marshal's Tale127
Back in Heaven177
Part IV
Eleanor of Aquitaine's Own Tale181
Back in Heaven195

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Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a middle school asignment. I thought it was very good and just about anyone would enjoy this marvelous book!
keywestnan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book as a kid and absolutely loved it -- and have been a fan of Eleanor of Acquitaine ever since. It's still my favorite portrayal of her, over Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter and definitely over Alison Weir's new and disappointing "Captive Queen." The book's conceit is that Eleanor is in heaven, it's set in the present day (the book was published in 1973) and she's waiting to see if her husband Henry II of England will be allowed Up after centuries in purgatory. She reviews the events of her life with three others who lived parts of it with her -- Abbot Suger of France (she was queen of France before she divorced Louis and married Henry Plantagent -- who was 12 years younger), Henry's mother, the Empress Matilda, and William Marshal, a loyal English knight. It's a great way to convey the events of her life and a fantastic introduction to medieval European history for any kid with an interest in that sort of thing. And it turns out, as an adult, it's still a fun read.
bjappleg8 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eleanor of Aquitaine was a vivid, fascinating woman who lived and made a great deal of history. A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver imagines her in Heaven, waiting impatiently for her second husband, Henry II, to arrive for his judgement and hopefully, admittance into Heaven.While she waits, she visits with three other associates from her life on earth: her mother-in-law Matilda, Archbishop Suger, and William Marshall. They takes turns telling the parts of her life's story that each of them is most familiar with.It's a wonderful introduction to Eleanor and all the famous people from history that her life intersected with, and does a particularly nice job of showing her accomplishments: an introduction to the ideals of chivalry at her Court of Love, her commssioning poets and authors to "improve" the stories of King Arthur, and her and Henry II's efforts to bring about the Rule of Law in England. I found it valuable for these things even as a mature reader. A young reader would find it a great story well told, without even having to be aware of how much they were learning.
BookshelfMonstrosity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh, E.L. Konigsburg, how could I ever expect anything less than delightful perfection from you? I don't know how I missed this one growing up, considering From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was a favorite in elementary school.I love historical fiction, but I sometimes struggle to find books in the genre that I know kids will truly enjoy. Proud Taste is one of those books. Konigsburg sets up a clever premise in which impatient Eleanor is waiting in heaven for her husband, Henry II, to move 'up'. While waiting, the readers are told the story of Eleanor's life by three people who knew Eleanor while she was queen: Henry's mother, Abbot Suger (my favorite), and William the Marshal. Each person takes turns relating the life of Eleanor in such a way that the reader doesn't get bogged down while learning about Middle Ages France and England, which is indeed exactly what is going on! Rather than focusing on dates and events, the story is told with a focus on Eleanor's personality, which is quite different than that of most other women of the 12th century. Included in the book are ink drawings separating each of the narratives, along with a map.
Clockwork82736 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What if people really went to heaven when they die -- and we could snoop in on their conversation? Beautiful drawings and pleasant rendition of Eleanor's life history.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver tells the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, that striking queen who married two kings, ruled two countries, gave birth to three kings, was imprisoned by her husband for sixteen years, and who, in this tale, is now in Heaven recounting the events of her life to pass the time. E. L. Konigsburg has long been celebrated as one of the more versatile and creative authors in young adult fiction, and this story is no exception to her skill. In her hands Eleanor emerges as an extravagant, intelligent, strong young woman, full of personality and passon, who had no hesitation about what she wanted and how to get it. Eleanor tells some of the story, but much is also told by her mother-in-law Matilda, the Abbot Suger, and William the Marshall. I remember studying Chrétien de Troyes in college; well, Eleanor was his patroness. Everything is connected eventually for those of us who study English! Chrétien de Troyes wrote poems and romances based on Arthurian legends, and "cleaned up" the stories to make the knights bolder, the ladies more beautiful, the deeds more heroic. All of this was connected with Eleanor's famous "Court of Love," which gave shape and momentum to the chivalric tradition. Although historically there is some question as to the real weight and importance of the Court of Love, Konigsburg clearly takes Eleanor's side, writing that she is the reason that men open doors for women to this very day. It's funny that what many modern feminists regard as degrading began as the philosophy (quite opposite that of the rest of the world at the time) that man was entirely the property of woman. Of course this is Eleanor's story written for young readers, and though certain inappropriate things can't be entirely ignored (like Henry's philandering, especially with Rosamund Clifford), Konigsburg glosses them as best she can. Nor can you get around the sixteen-year imprisonment... even for royalty, that's a rather unusual domestic arrangement. And sometimes life just wasn't pleasant back then; Eleanor's son Richard died of the infection from an arrow would in the shoulder, after his surgeons dug around unsuccessfully in his shoulder to remove the arrowhead. Ugh...Of course the story is a dreadful theology of Heaven and Hell, a caricature of Roman Catholic beliefs (everyone spends some time in Hell before being admitted "Up", and being "Up" translates to boredom for the feisty Eleanor). But, taking it as a fictional frame only, I like it. It gathers all the main players in Eleanor's life and allows them to tell their part of her story. All in all, this is an enjoyable introduction to one of history's most fascinating women. Recommended.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the most part, I've enjoyed reading my kid's history books, be they factual or historical fiction. It's really become quite a pleasant routine. But there's still room for surprises, as I found out reading this one. A Proud Taste is a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is known for being the wife of King Henry II of England and mother to King Richard the Lion-heart. (At least I'm assuming that's her claim to fame--I really hadn't taken note of her before reading this book.) She's an interesting lady, but even more interesting is how Konigsburg tells her tale. Eleanor's life is told in flashback. The book starts out in heaven, or at least heaven according to Roman Catholic theology. Eleanor is waiting for the imminent release of King Henry from Purgatory. She's waiting with three friends, and to bide the time, they discuss her life. It's an enjoyable dramatization, one I'd advise checking out for the story as much as the historical information.--J.
falcargenta More than 1 year ago
Charming and witty, simplified and somewhat fantastical biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although set in "Heaven" while Eleanor is waiting with some of her friends and her mother-in-law to see if her second husband, Henry II of England, will be allowed "up," Eleanor recounts highlights (and lowlights) of her amazing life. This will pique an interest in English and French history -- possibly the Crusades -- for younger readers of late elementary school age and older. Even adults should find it entertaining. The facts, if not the "celestial" setting, are historically accurate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. Although the task of telling Eleanor's story is not an easy one, the author was able to make the book both informative and entertaining. I loved the strange concepts of heaven, hell, and the afterlife "admissions process" that this book introduced. Great read.
sophia_alexander More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book.  Amazing history, but Konigsburg makes it special with the way she words it all.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a read again. I had to read it for a progect and thoght it was a great book. It is not that hard to understand and is not a suspence book, but it is a page turner. It is educational but at the same time enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read an earlier edition of this book about four years ago (when I was still in gradeschool). Today during english, we discussed the life of Eleanor of Aqcuitaine. I remembered this book and simply had to find it. The fact that the memory of this book remained with me for that long simply goes to show how skillfully it was written. I learned much about Eleanor, and am currently ordering a copy for myself because I feel it is one of the best books I have ever read. If you are interested in Eleanor but do not want a difficult book to read or understand, I suggest this book. If you want a book that provides life and insight, along with humour, into the life of Eleanor, I suggest reading this book. Enjoy :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great book and very interesting. how she changes during the book but a little stays the same. You have just got to read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like historial fiction, queen eleanor of aquitaine, or are just looking for a reeeeeeeally good book, pick this one!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a very interesting book and for once, this was the kinda book that was actually fun to read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book. We are reading it for my English class.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This humorus novel about the life of Queen Eleanor is most enjoyable. I read it in English class and proved to be really interesting! And after you read it, I strongly suggest that you watch the movie 'The Lion in The Winter.' Our class did, and it goes really well with the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
you learned a lot about history in an enthusiastic and delightful way, from many people's perspectives. I recommend this to everybody. You don't even realize how much you've learned until you' ve finished the book. You learn so much in a fun way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book when I first read it in middle school, even though I HATED anything to do with history. I bought it for my nook in a fit of nostalgia and found out it works on a more adult level, too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is based on Middle Ages Europe where Queen Eleanor reigned in France and England, as well as the Aquitaine after her father, mother, and brother died. She is a very sassy woman, and this book can be fairly funny if you will read her autobiography first. I personally did not like it, but you may if historical fiction is your taste. I found there to be no point to the book, and the ending was pretty obvious. I would definitaly NOT recommend this book to non-history buffs, but for you history buffs out there, sure take a crack at it. You may find it interesting enough, and I may sound crazy, but you are listening to a historical fiction HATER. Historical Fiction is not my field of interest. Please read my recommended titles!