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Search tags: Eleanor-of-Aquitaine
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review 2016-10-07 11:01
Avoided for too long!
The Summer Queen - Elizabeth Chadwick

Elizabeth Chadwick has long been on my radar for historical fiction but when I stumbled across her website, I was put off by her somewhat unorthodox methods of research and her rather kitschy book titles. This really didn't sound like someone who took her historical accuracy all too seriously. So what made me download the preview  of this book, I can't really say, but I am so glad I did. I was riveted. My only gripe is that the language used to describe some of the sex scenes sounded so old-fashioned that it could have come straight out of a D H Lawrence story. It just wasn't in keeping with the tone of the book or the times. Thankfully, such scenes were few and far between and mercifully short.. Other than that, I really enjoyed it and will be looking at some of her other books.


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review 2016-02-15 00:00
Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor
Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor... Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor - Margaret Ball Apparently it's possible to turn someone like Eleanor into a complete bore. Sad.
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review 2015-10-03 19:32
Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Winter Crown - Elizabeth Chadwick

May include spoilers if you are not familiar with this historical period.

This second installment in Chadwick's Eleanor of Aquitaine series covers the period between Henry becoming Henry II of England and Eleanor's imprisonment caused by her sons' rebellion. This is where many authors focus on the fight for power between Henry and Thomas Becket. Chadwick chooses to move the spotlight to Eleanor and her desperate attempts to get Henry to take her seriously.

The marriage that begins with some amount of promise and plenty of lust in The Summer Queen, quickly disintegrates into a power play that Eleanor is destined to lose. She did not learn her lesson from trying to manipulate her first husband, Louis of France. She marries the much younger Henry, believing that she will be able to mold and guide him. She either overestimated herself or underestimated her Angevin duke.

This novel includes a significant amount of Eleanor snapping at Henry and him treating her as a brood mare. Henry, who appears to be a wonderful golden prince when he appears in Summer Queen, becomes an overbearing jerk in this story, even to the point of


(spoiler show)

. Their ongoing arguing just got a little old.

It was nice to read about Henry's reign from a different point of view, and Chadwick creates the sights and sounds of the 12th century quite well. Thankfully, there was Isabel to provide a bright spot in this novel. I loved her quiet strength and loyalty while all around her were simply fighting for themselves. Neither Eleanor or Henry was a character that I felt like I could root for, but Isabel was.

Some readers will enjoy the scenes where Chadwick's popular version of William Marshall appears. He seems to be the only person wholly loyal to poor Eleanor.

I liked Chadwick's realistic portrayal of Eleanor as a medieval woman who was a pawn in the games of men, regardless of her noble birth. She was truly powerless against first Louis, then Henry, though she tried. Oh did she try. But I was simply never captivated by her story.

I thank NetGalley for my copy of this novel. Opinions stated are my own.

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review 2015-09-27 18:21
Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Summer Queen - Elizabeth Chadwick

My standards might have been too high for this one to meet. I cannot read the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine without having Sharon Kay Penman's novels in the back of my mind. Chadwick's version has a different focus, so far, looking at Eleanor as a young girl and Queen of France, so that was a point in its favor.

While a time of anarchy reigned in England, Eleanor was a pampered heiress of the southern duchy of Aquitaine. Her father arranged what should have been a glorious match with Louis, future king of France. Unfortunately, things did not go quite as planned.

Chadwick tends to be a little too focused on romance for my taste, and this was no exception. I managed to get through the sex scenes featuring teenaged Eleanor and Louis, but the steamy scenes between the (was she even teenaged?) Petronella and her senior citizen lover were a little stomach turning. Poor Petra is continuously overshadowed by her more glamorous older sister and repeatedly compared to their grandmother, Dangereuse, who is frequently mentioned though she never appears.

I was happy to get to the portion of the story where Eleanor and Louis went on Crusade, and it was more enjoyable. The descriptions of the court at Constantinople and Antioch immerse the reader in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the medieval world. The relationship between Eleanor and her uncle Raymond was well done.

Louis and Eleanor's relationship deteriorates with him turning to his advisers and the church and she losing patience with him. At times, Eleanor appears to be exactly the manipulative woman that Louis's mother was afraid she was, but her plans fall apart time and time again, including her initial attempt to rid herself of Louis.

I was excited for the story to begin including Henry, well, because he's Henry. However, he was almost too practically perfect in every way compared to all of Louis's faults. His entrance to the story also, unfortunately, included many more bedroom scenes. During these scenes we are repeatedly reminded that it is only lust between them as they hardly know each other, and Eleanor has an odd habit of bringing up her scandalous grandparents while in bed. Instead of enjoying this part of the story, I found myself beginning to skim just to get to the end.

I already have The Winter Crown which begins with Henry becoming Henry II, so I will continue to follow Eleanor to England and the challenges her second marriage will bring.

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text 2015-09-22 18:35
Reading Update: 51% Complete
The Summer Queen - Elizabeth Chadwick

I had just started thinking, "Wonderful! Everyone's off on crusade and I won't have to read any more sex scenes" - when that happened. Ugh. Call me a prude, but reading about teenage Eleanor and Louis was bad enough....then there was teenage (or was she only 12) Petronella and her grandpa-aged lover. I was actually glad that Louis had vowed to stay away from Eleanor's bed, but apparently it takes more than that to keep this from being a constant theme in this book. 

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