song-for-eloise

Song for Eloise

Leigh Sauerwein

A medieval tale of doomed love.

At fifteen, Eloise is married off to a man twice her age and taken to his forlorn castle in the mountains. Thomas, a trobar (troubadour), and his companion, a juggler known as Babel, make their way from village to village, from tavern to castle singing and entertaining. While peasants work the fields, knights hunt and fight and joust, monks pray the hours of the day, and the seasons turn, Eloise and Thomas, separated as children, reunite.

In a tapestry of voices imbued with romantic passion, Leigh Sauerwein tells a medieval tale of doomed love, evoking the richness and texture, mystery and wonder of life in the twelfth century


  • Ages: 11 - 14
  • Grades: 6 - 9
  • Pages: 136

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Recent Reviews

An incisive poetic writer, Sauerwein (The Way Home) populates this novel of 12th-century France with dynamic, memorable characters that illuminate the setting without compromising their dimension or believability.

—Publishers Weekly

Spare, lyrical, true to its time yet universal in its portrayal of love, loyalty, and loss, Eloise’s story is as interesting for its similarities to Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy, as for its more evident differences —a sweet, sad tale to savor and treasure...

—Horn Book

Gorgeous, densely atmospheric.

—Booklist

This absorbing story is a fine choice for an interdisciplinary study of the time.

—School Library Journal

A superbly crafted tapestry of medieval heartbreak … Religious rituals, references to famous medieval stories, and ongoing reminders of seasonal change (In August, the night is ten hours long, the day fourteen) mournfully broaden this short, complex piece beyond its own specifics.

—Kirkus Reviews

Teen readers will sympathize with the maiden protagonist, but it is cuckolded Robert who emerges as the truly tragic figure, completely smitten with and devoted to his childlike wife but unable to muster the words and polished manners to win her heart. Readers who’ve outgrown middle-grade novels with medieval runaway brides and happy, romantic endings can now revisit the forced-marriage plot all grown up.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Sauerwein’s writing style is sensual and ethereal, infused with songs and poetry, setting this book apart from most historical fiction. A unique, appealing aspect is the lack of a truly central character. Although all characters are connected with Eloise, each is as strongly developed as she is. … A strong offering, a fresh look at the traditional boy-meets-girl story.

—Voice of Youth Advocates

Beautifully evocative and pictorial prose makes this a haunting and thought-proving book. Short descriptive paragraphs throughout the book give us a picture of daily life in the countryside of France at the time of the story, telling us about the doings of various personalities in the village as they go about their work and play. The story is told from the point of view of several characters that often converge and cross paths as the story unfolds. A truly remarkable piece of work.

—Children's Literature