Category Archives: Eleanor of Aquitaine

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

Another amazing historical from my favorite medieval storyteller

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sphere, June 20, 2013
Hardcover 478 pages
Source: Bought from an Amazon seller after I scoured the internet for an hour looking for an available copy when it came out in the UK.. I read and devoured it immediately upon its arrival, but just lacked computer time to compose this review.
Burton Book Review Rating:  (Must you ask?) Fifty Stars, if I could

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13. Barely out of childhood, this gives an entirely new slant to how Eleanor is treated bv those around her. She was often the victim and her first marriage was horribly abusive.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor’s legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .

Once upon a time there lived an amazing woman who was destined to be ruler of Aquitaine. Her heart and soul was with Aquitaine and the heritage that she was born with. In a time where women were considered frail or used as chattel, Eleanor of Aquitaine rises up and becomes Queen of France, then dumps her husband and that title only to soon become Queen of England.

After many reads based on Eleanor’s life, one would think I’ve had enough. But then here comes Elizabeth Chadwick writing a novel that she has wanted to write for a very long time. Her previous historicals on William Marshal were based during Eleanor’s time, and Eleanor would beckon to the author to write Eleanor’s story.

And that she did. With typical Chadwick flair, we have a start to what will prove to be an amazing trilogy on Eleanor, except our main protagonist is now called Alienor. My first inclination was to shy from this twist on the anglicized name of Eleanor, but Chadwick’s skillful writing set me at ease with this proper spelling of Eleanor right away. Among other things, I loved how she portrayed Louis; my feelings about him changed as his character changed.. and she made him more interesting than he probably was! What a sack of uselessness he seemed to be.

Alienor’s story is familiar to most of us medieval fiction lovers, but as always Chadwick tells it beautifully and with deft writing skill. She does not inundate us with endless facts and names, she simply draws us into Alienor’s world from the time she was a child to the time she finally meets Henry, her second husband. It is a poignant tale as we ache for Alienor during her loveless marriage to the weak and overly pious King of France even though we know eventually she will break free. But Chadwick gives us the full story, the full measure of Alienor so that we live and breathe in Alienor’s world unlike any other novel on the woman.

We root for Alienor as she faces obstacle after obstacle (and goes on a crusade!) and we still manage to learn a bit more of the story behind the well-known history of the era. Her sister Petronella shows us a new side of a scandalous story, and Alienor herself proves she is not all ice as one would believe. The supporting characters all add to the nuances of the drama, and there were some characters who get to stay around longer than others as the author saw fit. Fans of both Chadwick and the love and hate story between Eleanor and Henry will love this telling, but will be sad when the novel is over because there is still so much left to be told. I am impatiently waiting for the author to write the next installment, The Winter Crown, which we hope will be available by the fall of 2014.

As I stated in my final reading status update on Goodreads, “Chadwick writes so well I am annoyed I’ve finished the book.” There is no need for me to repeat how awesome and vivid of a story that Elizabeth Chadwick writes, she is the ultimate contemporary expert of medieval historical fiction in my humble opinion. Yet I will never get tired of complimenting Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing as long as she promises to write more, more, more, more, and more!!! Come on, 2014!

A problem that I’ll have to debate during my wait for her next novel is trying to decide which is my favorite Chadwick novel of the eight that I’ve read. I’ve read three Chadwick’s this year but 2011’s Lady of the English still sticks in my mind. Perhaps I’ll have to have a Chadwick Re-Read Marathon to see which is the cream that rises to the top. Of those that I’ve read, Shadows and Strongholds, Lady of the English, and now The Summer Queen will be battling for that position. Which novel was your favorite Chadwick thus far?

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Best of 2013, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth Chadwick

Review: Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Anne O’Brien

Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Anne O’Brien
(Devil’s Consort is the UK title)
448 pages, paperback
Penguin NAL Trade: April 14, 2011
Personal copy won through Maria Grazia’s giveaway at her Fly High blog, thank you!!
Burton Book Review Rating:

Orphaned at a young age, Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, seeks a strong husband to keep her hold on the vast lands that have made her the most powerful heiress in Europe. But her arranged marriage to Louis VII, King of France, is made disastrous by Louis’s weakness of will and fanatical devotion to the Church. Eleanor defies her husband by risking her life on an adventurous Crusade, and even challenges the Pope himself. And in young, brilliant, mercurial Henry d’Anjou, she finds her soul mate-the one man who is audacious enough to claim her for his own and make her Queen of England.

Eleanor of Aquitaine has been written about many times, and even more so in the past few years as her popularity grows as a strong and willful woman. Anne O’Brien gives us an intriguing look at the upheaval that Eleanor caused her French husband with a few fictional spins based on the rumors of Eleanor’s time. For those that do know the history of Eleanor, she was wed to the prince of France at a young age, and soon after became Queen of France. For years Eleanor chafed against the pious confines of her husband and his advisers, and was given little acknowledgement for her intelligence. Eleanor was bred to rule over Aquitaine, and with this hasty marriage with the French she consequently missed her home tremendously. Fast forward through a disastrous crusade and embarrassing attempts to give France a male heir, Eleanor finds a way out of France but needs young Henry Plantagenet’s help.

The French king Louis is still portrayed as the overly pious, devoted to God and less of his country and his wife. Abbot Suger, and Bernard of Clairvaux come into play as they continually thwart Eleanor’s schemes for her independence. And the reason Eleanor is so widely popular is apparent with her strong characterization here; she is not weak, whimpering and simpering, she is always aware that to persevere she must plod on. And for years she did. She outlived most of her closest family members and pretty much went through everything under the sun by the time of her death. The arrival of the young and virile Henry Plantagenet on the scene gave the book a welcomed flair, as Eleanor had finally met her match with Henry.

Anne O’Brien sticks to the main plot of Eleanor’s life in France, but also blends in her fictional dramatic license to skew certain dates and events, but I was still not put off. There was something to be said about the voice which the author gave Eleanor that made me want to keep reading this story, even though I knew what happened to Eleanor and her hopes in the end. The fact that the author did not unequivocally stick to the facts or time lines made it that much more fun, and since I noticed the “factual errors” I think this is actually what held some of the story’s appeal for me as well. Which is quite an odd revelation for me, really. I normally would rail against the extreme dramatic license, but this time I really enjoyed it, and I was entertained (and a touch scandalized!). Exactly what I am sure the author set out to do. And those folks who have not read an Eleanor every other month probably wouldn’t notice most of the differences in the events. I was also intrigued by the genealogy charts in the beginning referencing the lines of consanguinity, as well as the map showing the scope of the lands between Eleanor, Louis and Henry. And that cover was fabulous as well, the texture of the book was just right.. and the pages inside kept me rooting for Eleanor to the very end. The very end actually ended with the coronation of Henry II and Eleanor, so I’ve got to wonder what’s next on Anne O’Brien’s plate? Another novel focused on Henry’s and Eleanor’s devilish brood? Where do I sign up?

Queen Defiant is roughly my seventh Eleanor themed read in the past 15 months. I have read others before those as well. Since they were all novels, I think it’s time I read the biographical Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, by Alison Weir just so I can brush up on the facts and timeline for Eleanor and call myself well-versed. But, for a woman who lived eight hundred years ago as a lady of two kingdoms and mother to three kings, you’ve got to applaud the everlasting appeal that she maintains with the historically inclined reading audience.

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Filed under 12th Century, 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Medieval Era

{{Giveaway!}} Book Review: To Be Queen by Christy English

Please see the end of this book review for details on how to enter for the international giveaway, courtesy of the generous author of To Be Queen.

To Be Queen by Christy English
Paperback, 400 pages
April 5th 2011; NAL Trade
ISBN13 978-045123230
Review Copy provided by the author, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:4.5 Shiny New Stars!

Christy English’s second novel brings us her favorite protagonist of Eleanor of Aquitaine. English’s previous work of last year, The Queen’s Pawn, focused on the relationship between Eleanor and her ward, Alais, who was purpoted to be a mistress of Eleanor’s second husband. For this novel, the author steps even further back in time to bring us a prequel to the tumultuous marriage of Eleanor and Henry and brings us the early years of Eleanor as she sows the seeds of ultimate strength and power as only she could.

Eleanor was a woman brought up to believe in herself and Aquitaine as her legacy, above all things. As she recognizes that her dream of becoming a Queen of France was not as fruitful as she would have imagined, she begins to realize that being Queen alongside the pious King Louis was only holding her back. We are always hurried through this marriage to France with our previous Eleanor reads, but now the author takes the time to reimagine this time of Eleanor’s life and attempts to prove just how worthy of a woman Eleanor truly was.

Louis wasn’t that man to make Eleanor be all that she knew she could be.. and the vassals and priests of Louis’ court weren’t about to make her feel welcome. Eleanor is unfulfilled in many ways, and the lack of a son and heir for France finally gives Eleanor a way out of the marriage. As that is the simply put timeline of Eleanor’s marriage to Louis, the author weaves for us an incredible journey of passion, power, manipulation, lust and greed into a compelling story of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Before the infamous devil’s brood, before Henry II locked the scheming Eleanor away, the author gives us the glimpse into the woman that always knew she was destined for the greatest things.

The author’s prose drew me in in the beginning, and I was very impressed with how the story had moved along with its atmospheric tones. Towards the end, though, I admit to being tired of the romps in the gardens of Persian roses.. the author takes several liberties with the fiction part but you need to take it as a whole package and simply embrace it. Although the first half seemed stronger than the last, I still enjoyed the entire book immensely and can appreciate the strength and will power of Eleanor that Christy English successfully portrays through To Be Queen. I can also appreciate the rare look at the early life of Eleanor, which is often rushed through. Eleanor’s sister Petra is featured somewhat, as well as Louis VII in all his pious inadequacies, but we also have Amaria who is seemingly the most loyal servant and helpful person to Eleanor throughout. The court of love that Eleanor is famous for is also a theme in this story which helps flesh out the character of Eleanor as she strives to maintain her sense of loyalty to her family name and her homeland. Of all the amazing things that Eleanor has done in her life, the fact that she was a queen twice is pretty significant, as well as the fact that barons of Aquitaine swore allegiance to her as a young woman. That Eleanor of Aquitaine is a legend in her own right is a wonderful excuse for women to feel more empowered after reading of all that she accomplished and endured.

If you are looking to either aquaint yourself with Eleanor or if you consider yourself well-versed on her life, I would recommend Christy English’s passionate novel on Eleanor which offers a look into the beginnings of the Queen like no other novel before her. You can start with both of English’s novels on Eleanor, and I then suggest you move on Sharon Kay Penman and read the trilogy that begins with When Christ and His Saints Slept which will bring you deeper into the history of England following the steps that start with the usurper King Stephen and end many years later with Eleanor’s youngest son King John (of Elizabeth Chadwick fame).

What do you think? Does this novel on Eleanor’s earlier years spark your interest? Just how badly do you want to read this? This is a rare giveaway opportunity for The Burton Review, only made possible by the author herself.
Open to everyone.. everywhere… we will have TWO winners of To Be Queen.


Mandatory entry (please leave all the following in one comment as the first 3 steps count as one entry):
1: Follow this blog via the Google Friend Connect Gadget on the left sidebar. (Under the Amazon Ad for 2010 Best Books).
2: Leave a comment on this review post and whatever your thoughts are on Eleanor of Aquitaine. You may also leave comments for Christy.
3: You absolutely MUST leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win.


EXTRA entries:
Do all the above PLUS:
+1 entry if you LIKE my Facebook Page “The Burton Review
+1 entry if you LIKE Christy English’s Facebook Page “To Be Queen”


You must comment telling me what your name is on Facebook so that I can verify your “Likes” to these pages.

This Giveaway will end 4/16/2011; I will email the winners who will then have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address.
For even more Eleanor of Aquitaine love, please follow the ladies at the Historical Fiction Round Table as they host a week long event with articles, reviews and giveaways…going on right now!! Good Luck!!

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Filed under 2011 Releases, 2011 Reviews, Christy English, Eleanor of Aquitaine, France, Medieval Era

>Book Review: The Secret Eleanor by Cecelia Holland

>

See the interview with the author at The Burton Review http://www.theburtonreview.com/2010/08/book-giveaway-secret-eleanor-q-with.html

The Secret Eleanor by Cecelia Holland
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 3, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0425234501
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:

Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!

1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband’s title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.
Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably…

He is Henry D’Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

Ok, so here we have the zillionth historical novel on Eleanor this year. Are we tired of her yet? I am definitely tired of the sexual references over and over and over. So if you are too, I would recommend reading Christy English’s The Queen’s Pawn. At least it had Eleanor in it where she did not fantasize about men in her bed (too much). After recently reading The Captive Queen by Weir, I was hesitant to read another novel that is slanted again so much towards that sexual drive of Eleanor. I get it, ya know? And yet, I have to wonder.. what was Eleanor REALLY like? Is she now turning over in her tomb at Fontevraud with these supposed sexual exploits?

The Secret Eleanor opens up to Eleanor in the French courts as she first eyes the must-be-extremely-sexy Henry, future king of England. She is like a cat in heat upon first glance. I didn’t really want to read any more after this, because, really, is it possible that we could we get past this? Well, it would have to be the flow of the writing itself. Which surprisingly and so very thankfully was not lacking. Thirty or forty pages of Eleanor scheming to get closer to Henry and finally the story starts taking shape and the humanity seeps through. If we had another thirty pages more of just Eleanor scheming for Henry, I would have given up. A saving grace were the supporting characters in the novel which included a naive young girl named Claire, and Eleanor’s own sister, Petronilla and her eventual love interest. The story ultimately focuses on a fictitious illegitimate pregnancy of Eleanor’s and once that story takes off, we are in for an entirely different slant on Eleanor as the supporters of Eleanor work to keep this very treasonous secret for Eleanor.

Arguably, the best feature was that the novel started to not focus on Eleanor but instead focused on Eleanor’s sister Petronilla. In many of my previous encounters with Eleanor novels, Petra is involved in different capacities. This is the only one that focuses fully on the character of Petra and her feelings from jealousy to low self-esteem. Since Eleanor was secretly having an illegitimate child, Petra dons the Eleanor makeup and the royal clothes and impersonates Eleanor, long enough to fool everyone including Henry the Duke who Eleanor had high hopes of catching. Thus the title of this novel The Secret Eleanor makes perfect sense as Petra actually becomes Eleanor for public spectacles.

Another contrast from this novel to other Eleanor novels is the timeline. Many previous novels have been all encompassing which includes and emphasizes Eleanor’s reign as Queen of England and the struggles she has between Henry II and their children, but this novel stops before we get to that point. It opens up to Eleanor as a Queen of France, struggling to find a way out of there as Louis’ queen and directly on to Poitiers and her beloved home of Aquitaine. Henry (still just a duke and not yet king) is featured as the catalyst for Eleanor’s will to make her split with Louis a reality, and her sister becomes a major mover in her quest as well. The side story of the lady in waiting, Claire, who we never knew if we could trust, was a positive departure from the norm in the novel, as we grew to empathize with Claire and her own plight in the world. She becomes involved with a troubadour which could have disastrous consequences for her and we witness her decisions as we await either her ruin or her rise.

As Eleanor fights to sever her ties with King Louis, the strongest theme of the novel was the relationship between the two sisters. Eleanor was always the one in the limelight, Petra was the shunned one. Once Petra switched places, and became the secret Eleanor, she felt noticed and beautiful. Can Petra find true love after being tossed away by her ex-husband? Can she ever feel as worthy to her sister as merely a sister and not as a servant? And can she do it without breaking the bond with her royal sister?

Those readers who are intrigued by the historical period before Eleanor became the Queen of England and mother of kings, would enjoy this novel if they can appreciate the romantic twists that the author inserts into the novel. It has the aura of a historical novel with its many characters and the nuance of the times, with the romantic overtones heavily laced throughout which makes it also a compelling historical romance. And for me, once the story took shape and I became invested in the storyline of what would happen as a result of the untimely pregnancy, I did enjoy this novel and the surprising plot. I was glad that it eventually did not focus on Eleanor’s lusty desires and that it gave me insight into her sister’s character who has always been Eleanor’s shadow in other Eleanor novels.

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, Medieval Era

>BOOK GIVEAWAY "THE SECRET ELEANOR" Q&A WITH AUTHOR CECELIA HOLLAND

>

Eleanor of Aquitaine has been an intriguing historical figure as she was a Queen of France, and later a Queen of England who was famous for helping to maneuver her sons against her husband King Henry II. One of her famous sons was Richard the Lionheart, who is touted as her favorite. This year has been a fabulous year for novels on Eleanor and her famous family, and today, August 3rd, brings us the newest one titled The Secret Eleanor:

Please welcome to The Burton Review Cecelia Holland, the author of the new release The Secret Eleanor.

Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!


1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband’s title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.

Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably…


He is Henry D’Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

See the end of this interview for giveaway details of the book!

Q: You have written over twenty historicals based on very intriguing characters. Was there one book that was more difficult to research than others?

The hardest book to research was THE BELT OF GOLD, for which all the primary data was in Greek, and most of the better commentary in German or Russian. It’s not my favorite book. The California books were fabulous to research, everything right here, in English and very close in time. JERUSALEM, which is my favorite book, covers a time period (1180’s in the Holy Land) with lots of available primary material, which I prefer (the sources written closest to the actual event are primary sources), and a lot of controversy; I like to twinge an event, try to see it from a whole different slant than the usual, question the pre-assumptions. These days when so few readers actually have much background in history this has its own issues; it’s hard to play off the note when nobody knows the song.

Q: Your newest novel, The Secret Eleanor, features a time period that has been recently been written of Eleanor’s life. What was the inspiration for you to write about the relationship of Eleanor and Henry?

This nine-ten months’ time, from her first meeting with Henry of Anjou until she married him, is the turning point of Eleanor’s life. What I find missing in most accounts is the awareness that she was the mastermind: it had to be all her decision. Nobody else was in a position to see what she could make of the marriage with Henry, or that she would be able to make the marriage at all. I wanted to develop the idea of this passionate and willful woman seizing control of her life in the face of all the entrenched powers of male privilege and female submission. I don’t think anybody else has done this.

Q: Was there anything that surprised you about Eleanor or Henry that you came across in your research?

Not in the research (contrary to popular belief, the real data–the primary material–on both these major figures is pretty piecemeal, as you would expect, given the 900 years between us and them) but in the writing, when Eleanor became a fully-functioning character in a story that was leaping away out of my hands, she really did and thought and felt things I hadn’t expected. She scared me sometimes.

Q: Eleanor is typically portrayed as a domineering, strong willed woman who was able to defy both the King of France and the King of England. How do you think women thought of Eleanor at that time in history? What do you think was Eleanor’s greatest trait?

The prevailing opinion of Eleanor at the time, and for centuries afterward, was dominated by what Ralph Turner calls her Black Legend, the image of an adulterous headstrong evil queen whose husband was probably right to lock her up to keep her out of trouble. Shakespeare doesn’t help with his portrait of her in KING JOHN. I think a lot of women probably agreed with this assessment at the time–it was in the interests of many women to buy into the male view that women should be firmly subordinated to their husbands. Certainly the Empress Matilde, Henry’s mother, disapproved of Eleanor immensely. (Matilde however was a pretty aggressive woman in her own right .) But I imagine some women saw Eleanor as showing the way to a new respect and power–her daughters were active and independent minded, and the whole popular attribution to Eleanor of the Courts of Love (which seems a later amendment to her story) indicates people at the time saw her as presiding over a kind of revolution in women’s lives. Whether they appreciated this or disapproved depended a lot on their own circumstances.

Q: With three daughters and a menagerie of animals, how do you find the time to write so much? Does writing seem like work to you, or is it still something that you enjoy doing?

I love to write. Writing gets me through the bad times. On the other hand the girls ground me in real life. They’re all grown up now with families of their own but I am deeply grateful to have had them and to have them now. When they were little, finding time to write was hard, and I learned to break the work up into little pieces that I could think about while doing dishes, or hanging up diapers–bits of dialog, starting sentences, the like. I got a major flash on the end of FLOATING WORLDS for instance while I was hanging up diapers–maybe the white sheet before my face worked like blank film, on which I could project something.

Q: Have you been able to travel abroad to conduct your research? If so, what have been some of your favorite historical places to visit?

I’ve gone around a lot, the more now that my children are grown. I like Constantinople. I know it’s called Istanbul now but if you go with some information and maps and look, you can still find bits of what was for close on to 1000 years the greatest city in the Western World. I’m trying to get to North Africa now, and to Central Asia and the Silk Road, but there are political problems.

Q: Do you have any current writing projects that you can tell us about?

I’m finishing a novel about Richard the Lionheart’s Crusade. Richard of course was Eleanor’s son so this continues some of the research and ideas I did for THE SECRET ELEANOR.

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I am looking forward to that new work in progress, also! Thanks SO much to the author for visiting The Burton Review and answering my questions!! And another treat for my followers, the publisher is offering one copy of The Secret Eleanor to you!

To enter, please comment on the interview or tell me something about Eleanor that intrigues you. What books have you read regarding Eleanor or her family?

Some sort of response regarding the above is mandatory, and you must leave your email address so I can contact the winner.

For extra entries, leave me a link to your advertisement of this post:
+2 Post this on your blog, Facebook or Tweet this post

Good Luck!!
Giveaway ends August 14th, open to USA only courtesy of the publisher.

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Filed under 2010 Releases, Author Interviews, Author Post, Eleanor of Aquitaine

>Released Today: The Captive Queen by Alison Weir

>Available now is the newest novel by Alison Weir. I reviewed this novel recently, and like all of the Weir books I’ve read, I really enjoyed this story but there were others who completely disliked the entirety of the novel. I felt that Weir gave an interesting interpretation of Eleanor of Aquitaine that I don’t think is too far off base as for Eleanor’s potential character, but of course no one really knows for sure what Eleanor was truly like. Which is why historical fiction is so alluring as it gives us a taste of what might have been.

Despite the first half of the new book being slightly off kilter, I would still recommend this novel to those readers who want to delve into more of Eleanor’s character. It will be easy to shoot the novel down though for the lack of usual writing prowess that was indicative of Weir, so be aware that you might not want to spend your top dollar on this one. Perhaps you can find it at your library.

Read my review here. Of course, in hindsight, perhaps it should not have been a four star rating from me, but it was good enough for me as I wrote the review. I try to write my reviews the moment I read the book, so that everything is fresh in my mind. I like to be entertained, and if I felt I was entertained and not disappointed that merits a good rating from me. I am not one that is overly critical of writing styles, I don’t like to nit-pick certain things or minor historical details as I am not a historian. I prefer a novel to help to place me in another time and place as it entertains me with the events of a historical time period. Weir did that with this one and this is why I gave it a four star rating. And who doesn’t love Eleanor of Aquitaine?!

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
 The Burton Review Rating:Four stars!

Having proven herself a gifted and engaging novelist with her portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I in The Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey in Innocent Traitor, New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir now harks back to the twelfth century with a sensuous and tempestuous tale that brings vividly to life England’s most passionate—and destructive—royal couple: Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II.

Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness—and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.
Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.
But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil’s brood of young Plantagenets—including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry’s formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry’s friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.
Vivid in detail, epic in scope, Captive Queen is an astounding and brilliantly wrought historical novel that encompasses the building of an empire and the monumental story of a royal marriage.

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Filed under Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine

>Mailbox Monday

>Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week.. and thankfully I’ve only received two in the box, but they are to review. I have piles of books in boxes and no idea where anything is. We shall be seeing these two around the blogosphere for awhile yet with Q&A’s and reviews, and that will occur right here also! Stay tuned for giveaways of these:

His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester (2010) A novel by Jeane Westin
One of the greatest loves of all time-between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley-comes to life in this vivid novel.
They were playmates as children, impetuous lovers as adults-and for thirty years were the center of each others’ lives. Astute to the dangers of choosing any one man, the Virgin Queen could never give her “Sweet Robin” what he wanted most-marriage- yet she insisted he stay close by her side. Possessive and jealous, their love survived quarrels, his two disastrous marriages to other women, her constant flirtations, and political machinations with foreign princes.

His Last Letter tells the story of this great love… and especially of the last three years Elizabeth and Dudley spent together, the most dangerous of her rule, when their passion was tempered by a bittersweet recognition of all that they shared-and all that would remain unfulfilled.

THE SECRET ELEANOR by Cecelia Holland (August 3rd 2010)
Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!

1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband’s title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.
Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably…
He is Henry D’Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

I can’t forget to say that my dear husband bought these for my birthday, even though they didn’t come in the mail:
In exquisite condition a 1898 book called When Knighthood Was in Flower by Edwin Caskoden:
It is the reign of England’s Henry VIII. He is still married to his first of six wives, Catherine of Aragon . Yet, he has a problem with a certain young woman – his 16-year-old sister, Mary Tudor – whom he is determined to marry off. The lucky suitor (and the one who has the most to offer Henry) is the aging and feeble King Louis XII of France.



Beautiful, but temperamental, and definitely a woman who knows her own mind, the petulant teenager wishes to marry another, a common captain of the guard, Charles Brandon. While Henry and Mary may be brother and sister, he is still her King first and foremost! A battle of wills ensues in the House of Tudor, fueled by the Duke of Buckingham’s jealousy of Brandon. Henry finally puts his regal foot down and issues this command to her: “You will marry France and I will give you a wedding present – Charles Brandon’s head!” Not exactly the kind of wedding gift she had in mind. Desperate, but helpless to directly save Brandon’s head from the block, the King’s Jester vows to intervene somehow and stall the inevitable. Time is running out and Brandon’s neck lies exposed to the ax of the executioner…

And also an old edition of:
I Am Mary Tudor by Hilda Lewis
A first-person narrative novel about Henry VIII’s daughter, first in a trilogy.

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Filed under 16th Century, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth I

>Caught My Eye ..Some Fabulous Historical August Releases

>It is going to be a fabulous summer with all of the historical books that are coming out. In August alone, these are the picks that have caught my eye. Follow the Links to learn more about the books from Amazon!

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance (First in trilogy set during reign of the Borgias) by Sara Poole

In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness.



Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul.
Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.

The Red Queen: A Novel by Philippa Gregory

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.
The Secret Eleanor (novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine) by Cecelia Holland
Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!

1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband’s title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.


Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably…


He is Henry D’Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester (novel of the enduring relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) by Jeane Westin
One of the greatest loves of all time-between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley-comes to life in this vivid novel.

They were playmates as children, impetuous lovers as adults-and for thirty years were the center of each others’ lives. Astute to the dangers of choosing any one man, the Virgin Queen could never give her “Sweet Robin” what he wanted most-marriage- yet she insisted he stay close by her side. Possessive and jealous, their love survived quarrels, his two disastrous marriages to other women, her constant flirtations, and political machinations with foreign princes.


His Last Letter tells the story of this great love… and especially of the last three years Elizabeth and Dudley spent together, the most dangerous of her rule, when their passion was tempered by a bittersweet recognition of all that they shared-and all that would remain unfulfilled.

The Pindar Diamond: A Novel by Katie Hickman (Paperback – Aug 17, 2010)tale of lust, greed, and danger set in seventeenth-century Venice, The Pindar Diamond is a gripping and superbly told historical novel.
In a small town on the Italian coast, a mysterious woman washes ashore. She is crippled, mute, and clutches a bundle to her chest?a baby the townspeople insist is a real-life mermaid. It can only bring bad luck; they pay a troupe of acrobats to carry mother and child away.

In the bustling trade center of Venice, merchant Paul Pindar is the subject of his colleagues’ concern. Since his return from Constantinople, they have found him changed; raging over the loss of his beloved, Celia, he has gambled away his fortune at the gaming tables. But when a priceless blue diamond surfaces in the city, Pindar recognizes the opportunity to regain everything he has lost?including, perhaps, the woman he loves.


A celebrated writer of history and travel books, Katie Hickman has always been a master of evoking time and place. With The Pindar Diamond, her follow-up to The Aviary Gate, she brings early-seventeenth-century Italy vividly to life, and also demonstrates her maturity as a novelist. A tale of love and avarice, with a touch of the mystical, The Pindar Diamond is rich with historical detail, and unfolds with urgency and grace. It is accomplished, wholly satisfying historical fiction.

Non-fiction:
A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France by Katie Whitaker
A royal marriage, based on romantic passion and ferocious, unbridgeable religious differences, ends in tragedy—a history worthy of Shakespeare. It was, from the start, a dangerous experiment. Charles I of England was a Protestant, the fifteen-year-old French princess a Catholic. The marriage was arranged for political purposes, and it seemed a mismatch of personalities. But against the odds, the reserved king and his naively vivacious bride fell passionately in love, and for ten years England enjoyed an era of peace and prosperity.

When Charles became involved in war with Puritan Scotland, popular hatred of Henrietta’s Catholicism roused Parliament to fury. As the opposition party embraced new values of liberty and republicanism—the blueprint for the American War of Independence and the French Revolution—Charles’s fears for his wife’s safety drove him into a civil war that would cost him his crown and his head.
Rejecting centuries of hostile historical tradition, prize-winning biographer Katie Whitaker uses a host of original sources—including many unpublished manuscripts and letters—to create an intimate portrait of a remarkable marriage.
The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsley (Hardcover – Aug 17, 2010)
Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace’s glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II . In the eighteenth century, this palace was a world of skulduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley’s The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life. Structured around the paintings of courtiers and servants that line the walls of the King’s Staircase of Kensington Palace paintings you can see at the palace today?The Courtiers goes behind closed doors to meet a pushy young painter, a maid of honor with a secret marriage, a vice chamberlain with many vices, a bedchamber woman with a violent husband, two aging royal mistresses, and many more. The result is an indelible portrait of court life leading up to the famous reign of George III , and a feast for both Anglophiles and lovers of history and royalty.

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Filed under 16th Century, 2010 Releases, Caught My Eye, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Jeane Westin, Phillippa Gregory, Sara Poole

>Book Review: The Queen’s Daughter by Susan Coventry

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The Queen’s Daughter by Susan Coventry
Young Adult, 384 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0805089929
US release June 8, 2010
Henry Holt and Company
The Burton Review Rating::FourStars!

Joan’s mother is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the most beautiful woman in the world. Her father is Henry II, the king of England. She loves them both—so what can she do when she’s forced to choose between them? As her parents’ arguments grow ever more vicious, Joan begins to feel like a political pawn.

When her parents marry her off to the king of Sicily, Joan finds herself with a man ten years her senior. She doesn’t love him, and she can’t quite forget her childhood crush, the handsome Lord Raymond. As Joan grows up, she begins to understand that her parents’worldview is warped by their political ambitions, and hers, in turn, has been warped by theirs. Is it too late to figure out whom to trust? And, more important, whom to love?

After reading a few Eleanor of Aquitaine novels this year, I could not pass up the opportunity to read more about one of Eleanor’s daughters, Princess Joan. In the upcoming Captive Queen by Alison Weir, Joan was depicted as being unceremoniously shipped off to Sicily to marry a King significantly older than her who had then kept Joan virtually imprisoned while the King cavorted with the heretic Saracens in his bed. I felt bad for Joan who was, as usual, a mere pawn in her family’s need for political gains.

This story by Susan Coventry opens up to Joan when she is a seven year old daughter who was somewhat forgotten amongst the turmoils of her older brothers who never ceased to cause strife between their parents and their domains. The Young King Henry, Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, and Geoffrey of Brittany paid little heed to young Joan at age seven and her younger brother, John. Queen Eleanor and King Henry seemed to use Joan against each other and were not portrayed as very fond parents. Eleanor is definitely not portrayed in the best light, but the story is focused on Joan and how she viewed things from her point of view as she was torn between father and mother continually. I appreciated the fact that Joan realized her political duties and did not seem to falter when the heavy burden of moving to a different country came to pass.

Being betrothed to King William in Sicily could have been the start to a new life for the new Queen Joan, but here she was still simply a shadow of sorts as William was ten years older than Joan, and too impatient to deal with a child bride. Joan proves herself a strong young woman, and handles the other women in Sicily’s court with ease, yet she was kept away from King William for much of the time as he entertained himself elsewhere. The getting of an heir was awkward and not entirely loving, yet not as much of a hardship as had been impressed upon in earlier reads. William was not portrayed as an ogre as expected, but actually as a husband who was resigned to the idea of having a younger wife. There were not fights of the heir issues after many years of being barren. Of course, this was geared towards a young adult audience and the author writes later that little is really know of what Queen Joan truly had endured.

The author did a magnificent job of bringing to life the story of the young Princess Joan who became Queen Joanna of Sicily and later married to the ever present Raymond of Toulouse. Interesting court relationships were weaved throughout Joan’s story, and I was very intrigued from beginning to finish to read what events surrounded Joan throughout her life, such as the Crusades. I would be happy to read a part two to this story, as it seemed to end when there could have been more to tell. This was also my first “young adult” read in many years, yet I was not set back with the style of writing, therefore I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone interested in one of Eleanor’s daughters who resembled the strong-willed Eleanor in many ways. As far as it being interesting for younger audiences, I would not be able to discern, as there are many characters and underlying political currents. I would think a prior knowledge of the time period would be extremely helpful to understand the events that are occurring and put them in better context for the reader. Although this is a work of fiction, I feel the author accomplished a lot with this debut novel while capturing the essence of Joan and characterizing her relationships with those around her, giving this forgotten queen a voice.

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Filed under Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Sicily

>Book Review: Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir

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Another headless cover. Le Sigh. But, beautiful colors!

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
Published July 13, 2010
Ballantine Books, 496 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Four stars!

Having proven herself a gifted and engaging novelist with her portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I in The Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey in Innocent Traitor, New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir now harks back to the twelfth century with a sensuous and tempestuous tale that brings vividly to life England’s most passionate—and destructive—royal couple: Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II.

Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness—and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.
Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.
But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil’s brood of young Plantagenets—including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry’s formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry’s friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.
Vivid in detail, epic in scope, Captive Queen is an astounding and brilliantly wrought historical novel that encompasses the building of an empire and the monumental story of a royal marriage.

Eleanor, Eleanor, Eleanor. This is her year for novels. A rare treat is to have one penned by historian Alison Weir, so I relished the chance to read this novel on the famous Queen who had shrugged off the title of Queen of France in hopes of being Queen of England. Most importantly, Eleanor was proud of being Eleanor of Aquitaine. I had read several novels that have endeared me to the rebellious Eleanor, such as the spectacular Plantagenet trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman and Pamela Kaufman’s The Book of Eleanor. Most recently, I read The Queen’s Pawn by Christy English which focuses on a snippet of Eleanor’s life, which is barely touched on in Weir’s telling. I have yet to immerse myself in a non-fiction read of Eleanor, therefore I do not have a strict stance on some of the rumors that surround Eleanor such as her possible infidelity to her first husband King Louis. Right away, Weir sets the tone for this novel as it dives into Eleanor’s lustful ways, and therefore, less than faithful ones. This will be a huge turn off to Eleanor fans, but I chose to accept it for its fictional power only. And I am not entirely sure the excessive amount of sexual encounters and sexual thoughts really had to be included here; it is a significant drawback to the rest of the novel as it takes away from the already incredible story of Eleanor’s life which doesn’t merit the need to spice it up with as much sex as Weir does here. Thankfully, this occurs only for the first half of this novel on Eleanor, as eventually she does lose her sexual power over her husband as she is kept captive away from her family for many years. Eleanor was famous for being the Queen of the Courts of Love where Aquitaine was proud of its troubadours and courtly flirtations, and England took awhile to accept the ways of these troubadours.

Alison Weir’s new novel of Eleanor begins when Eleanor is unhappily married to the very pious but respectful Louis VII, after she has given him two daughters but no heir to the French throne. She works on his advisers to persuade Louis to denounce their marriage due to the ever present fortunate escape route of consanguinity, and Eleanor is gleefully free to sow her wild oats away from the French courts and their disapproving eyes. As mentioned, I was a bit shocked at the immediate sexual nature that was displayed, as the Angevin devils otherwise known as the future Henry II and his father Geoffrey V of Anjou appear at court and Eleanor is deep in lust for them. Immediately Eleanor plots her fate and is successful at ridding herself of King Louis and within months she marries the nineteen year old Henry Fitzempress. The prospect of the merging of the lands of Henry’s and Eleanor’s together is a great one, and propels Henry on a course to succeed King Stephen as the next King.

Eleanor and Henry’s marriage is the one major focus in the novel, as well as how the relationship develops and then flounders over the years. The power that Eleanor wants to maintain as a sovereign over Aquitaine is a thorn in Henry’s side, but in the beginning of the marriage, their confrontations were smoothed over with another romp in bed. Eleanor is shown as putting up with her husband to keep the peace as much as possible. Thus the title of the novel, Captive Queen, becomes understood as we watch Eleanor struggle to maintain her Queenly stature and to continue to be revered as the beautiful yet intelligent Queen that she was. She is also shown as a loving mother to their children, especially after she walks away from her daughters that she had with Louis previously. How this separation affected her in reality we will never know, but I cannot think of it being so simple as it is glazed over in many Eleanor books, simply because there is not much to tell. It is brought up a few more times as Weir demonstrates Eleanor’s motherly nature with her and Henry’s children well, and helps to endear us to Eleanor. All of the children are featured but not as prominent as other novels such as Penman’s books; this is truly focused on Eleanor and her personal travails.

The novel moves forward as the conflicts with the chancellor Thomas Becket appear, and Eleanor and Henry are beginning to not get past their marital problems and Henry’s infidelity with the “Fair Rosamund” who Henry really loved. Becket is portrayed as a man who was enamored of Henry, and probably a bit in love with him, and vice versa. Henry valued Becket’s camaraderie and knowledge, and may have seen him either as a father or a brotherly figure. Eleanor and Thomas each recognized a silent rivalry for Henry’s ear with each other and Weir demonstrates this threatening undercurrent several times.

The second half of the novel was much better in my opinion (probably because of the way that Eleanor was not given the opportunity to have sex that often), therefore it was focused on the turmoil within her family and how it affected Eleanor. The sons were causing trouble and strife as they fought for more power in the lands they inherited, but Henry II had troubles relinquishing much power to his boys due to their untrustworthiness. I had begun to dislike Henry and his controlling ways, but with the way that Weir wrote his story towards the end I was sympathetic by how Weir demonstrated how Henry was defeated during his last days. Richard the Lionheart was not featured as much but was more of an enigma to the reader; was he great, was he knightly, was he passionate?… it was hard to decipher with this telling. He seemed focused on destruction at one point in the novel which gave him a bit of a forbidding persona.

Overall, the novel is an intriguing look at the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine as she marries Henry II, but Penman is still the queen of that fictionalized story in my eyes. If Weir used a bit more grace and less bawdy tales from the start, she may have matched Penman’s novels Time and Chance, or Devil’s Brood. For those readers who have not yet read those Penman novels, this would be an interesting read if you can tolerate the multiple sexual references. And for those who have read the William Marshal novels by Elizabeth Chadwick, I think this novel would be a great tie in to those as well. The story was focused on Eleanor and how she may have felt during most of her life, as opposed to much of the politics of the time; and it was done in a plausible, understandable and intriguing way. I am happy to have read Weir’s entertaining story of Eleanor for myself, and perhaps you will too, as I believe the novel did Eleanor justice overall.

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, King John