Title: The Canterbury Papers
Author: Judith Koll Healey
Release Date: December 23, 2003
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
Alaïs, the king of France’s sister, is abducted while on her mission for the wily Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former Queen of England, to retrieve hidden letters that, in the wrong hands, could bring down the English king. In exchange, the French princess was to receive long-held and dangerous information. Now Alaïs, along with help from the very intriguing leader of the Knights Templar, must unravel a tangled web of family secrets and lies.
I’ve been wanting to read The Canterbury Papers for some time, especially because I’ve heard some great things about the way it combines historical fiction and mystery. When I heard that the author had a sequel coming out this summer, I put it a the top of my TBR list.
My favorite aspect of The Canterbury Papers was the character of Alais. She was so strong yet had her vulnerabilities, especially with the case of the former king of England. I felt so bad for her when she revealed her secret, yet never pitied her. I imagine that Alais is the type of woman who doesn’t allow pity. She was expertly written, a historical character that might have found a place in the modern day. I also appreciated that she was thoughtful; she didn’t make rash or stupid decisions and always thought through things before acting upon them.
The mystery behind The Canterbury Papers was somewhat predictable, but still very well crafted. I didn’t necessarily figure out the whole thing, but I had a pretty good idea of what might be going on about halfway through. Still, watching Alais uncover the mystery and her emotional growth because of it is very satisfying.
In the afterword, Healey describes the book’s basis in fact, and it surprised me that she didn’t take many historical liberties. She worked with what was already there in order to breathe life into the character of Alais and create this mystery. I thought it was extremely well done.