Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Guest: Elizabeth Vallone

People ask, how did you come up with the idea for your book Barbarossa’s Princess? I believe  the universe demanded that I give Constance de Hauteville a voice after 1000 years.  Or maybe because my DNA test said I was a descendant of the Vikings as she was.

The actual catalyst that pushed me to put words on paper was a book called, Travels of a Medieval Queen.  It documented Constance’s journey from Sicily to Germany.  When I finished this book, I made the commitment to write my own novel giving an intimate portrait of Constance.   This portrayal allows readers to live in her world, feel her joys and disappointments, taste the foods, and enjoy the life of a medieval princess.  I also wanted the readers to experience the horror of the beauty treatments and medical practices of the time that she was subjected to.

I fell in love with the story of Constance de Hauteville and this love is reflected in my work.  I think the universe would be satisfied.


A tale of intrigue, violence, sex, love and ultimate triumph, Elizabeth Vallone’s Barbarossa’s Princess is also a tapestry of the customs of the Holy Roman Empire, the Norman-Sicilian Court and mores of life in the 12th century.

“Barbarossa’s Princess is a veritable page turner. From the very first line, we are swept away on an adventure through the corridors of power in the 12th century. We taste and smell the meals, we see the unusual medical practices, we hear all the raucous sounds of life in an age more refined and more coarse than even our own. At the center of this delightful tale is Constance de Hauteville, a woman drawn from a nunnery to become Empress of a continent. She becomes the bearer of the next Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. An innocent, along with her maid-servant, Constance enters the corridors of power and grows to become as forceful as those who would use her for their own gain. Vallone portrays Constance de Hauteville as a woman of chutzpah and humility, a mother who endures the humiliations of women in an earlier time, but who triumphs and endures”.

Patrick McGuire, Senior Lecturer of English. University of Wisconsin

Elizabeth P. Vallone graduated from Montclair State University and Long Island University with a B.A. and an M.A. respectively. Mrs. Vallone is a teacher and freelance writer. A contributing author to the anthologies Imprints on Rockland County History (1983) and Curragia: Writings of Italian-American Women (1998), Mrs. Vallone previously published Stone Perpendicular to Stone—A Tribute to the Land of My Ancestors, in 1997, and Beyond Bagheria, her first historical novel, in 2005. She resides in the lower Hudson Valley of New York with her husband.
Review by professional editor, Joyce Magee, Fort Lauderdale , Florida

Elizabeth Vallone’s Barbarossa’s Princess, a superbly researched historical novel, will transport readers to the milieu of the late Middle Ages and the intrigue of the court of the Holy Roman Empire. It begins in the middle of the drama, in the year 1194, as Sicilian Queen Constance, consort of Emperor Heinrich, is about to give birth publicly to an heir to the throne. Townspeople who will witness the birth are exceedingly curious to see whether a monstrous anti-Christ will emerge from the queen’s body, as predicted by a famous clairvoyant. From this scene of frenzied expectation, the narrative fills in the previous ten years via flashback, featuring scenes of love, cruelty, deception, violence, secrets and much more.

The third-person omniscient point of view alternates with first-person narration by Queen Constance, a technique that vividly illuminates the action while endearing the reader to the female protagonist’s inner self. At every step, Constance clearly articulates the thoughts and feelings of a woman who is manipulated and repressed by the politics of her era and, especially, the men who exert power over her.

Ms. Vallone provides authentic multi-sensory details that will transport readers to the 12th Century. Many elements, such as beauty and fertility treatments, obstetrical medicine, food, customs and other details about daily life of the time are factual. So are many of the characters, who truly come alive under the pen of Ms. Vallone.

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