The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

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RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “Eleanor of Aquitaine’s story is legendary. She is an icon who has fascinated readers for over eight hundred years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive – until now. Based on the most up-to-date research, bestselling novelist Elizabeth Chadwick brings Eleanor’s magnificent story to life, as never before. Young, vibrant, privileged, Eleanor’s future is golden as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies suddenly in the summer of 1137, her childhood ends abruptly. Forced to marry the young Prince Louis of France, Eleanor is still struggling to adjust to her new role when Louis’ father dies and they become King and Queen of France. Leaving everything behind, the vivacious Eleanor must face the complex and faction-riddled French court. She is only thirteen.

REVIEW: Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favourite historical figures, and I have always found it difficult to find any significant amount of information on her first marriage to Louis of France – particularly in terms of historical fiction, as these usually tend to focus on her second marriage to Henry II of England and her later years. Because of this, I took great pleasure in reading this novel, which also contains lots of information on Eleanor’s younger sister Petronella, whom I knew absolutely nothing about. The novel contains the perfect mix of court intrigue, romance, sex, politics and religion; all the ingredients needed to make a great historical read. Eleanor is instantly both likeable and admirable; she is unafraid to stand up for herself, despite living in a very male-dominated society, and uses her emotions, fears and ambitions to her advantage rather than allowing them to become weaknesses. Chadwick brings her so vividly to life that the reader constantly feels as though they are fighting Eleanor’s battles with her, and suffering with her throughout her many misfortunes. For fear of giving away to much for anyone who is unaware of this period in history, I will say no more, but will just add that I am very glad that Chadwick plans to turn this into a trilogy; this is the most realistic and detailed portrayal of Eleanor I have ever had the good fortune to read and I would definitely recommend it. 

 

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