The Lady’s Keeper (The Medieval Ladies Series)

Written by Coirle Mooney
Review by Janice Ottersberg

In 1168, the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine is alive with entertainment and courtiers. Alice has brought her young niece Lady Joanna to the court at Poitiers for protection from Joanna’s father after the death of her mother. Joanna is enlivened by court life, but when she rejects a suitor and flirts with Henry, Eleanor’s son, the consequences threaten her virtue, and her exuberance dampens with the fallout. Instead of sending the women away, Eleanor brings them into her circle of attending ladies.

The reader sees into the inner world of a royal court as Alice and Joanna wait upon Eleanor, dressing her and maintaining her vast wardrobe. They travel with her between her home at Poitiers, her place of contemplation at the Abbey of Fontevrault, and Christmas holidays with Henry II, her husband, at Chinon Castle.

Joanna adores the music, dancing, plays, and falconry at Poitiers and Chinon, but her rebellious behavior challenges Alice and, unfortunately, calls to mind a spoiled teenager of today. Alice prefers the peace and quiet of the abbey and is jealous and possessive of her time with her friend Marie, Eleanor’s daughter, with whom she is in love. The history around Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II is a welcome piece of the novel. There were conflicts between the two over the titles and inheritance for their sons Richard and young Henry. Henry’s ongoing feud with Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended badly, and his disagreements with the Pope and church are all read with interest.

This is a light, pleasing read, even though too-modern language and sensibilities slip into this medieval world. This is the author’s debut and first in her Medieval Women series. I look forward to her next book, The Cloistered Lady, and continuing Alice’s story.