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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
by Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 STARS

Weir introduces the momentous incidents of Eleanor's life chronologically, each phase of Eleanor's path filled with historical import, beginning with the early days of Henry's unbridled physical appetites and ambitions, Eleanor matching his passion, albeit with an expectation of a marriage between equals. Except that Henry has no equal in wife or in hubris, driven by insatiable appetites and a vision for the future that includes the throne of England. And for all her beauty, wit and intelligence, by law Eleanor cannot oppose the will of her husband, her passion whittled away by years of betrayal and disappointment, her own arrogance broken on the wheel of Henry's will. The partnership is fruitful, sons and daughters destined for brilliant political matches, Henry his own worst enemy, ruthless and cunning, regardless of the coast to his relationships. 
from Wikipedia
This novel covers the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a very head strong queen. Her first marriage to King Louis VII of France ended in a divorce leaving Louis very bitter (which is very clear throughout the story). Eleanor did have various affairs during this marriage, one of which was a man named Gregory, her future father-in-law. Gregory's son, Henry of Anjou (Henry II) is destined to be the next King of England. Eleanor falls immediately in lust and him likewise. Their love affair is full of passion and leads to many children. But like many marriages, it starts to unravel due to greed, paranoia and adultery. Eleanor believe their marriage was going to be a partnership in all ways including in the ruling of England. Henry has other ideas and is very power hungry. He even plays games with his children causing them to fight amongst themselves and against him. During her marriage to Henry, Eleanor never thought about having an affair and thought Henry was just as faithful (and if you know anything about this time period, you know he wasn't). When she is confronted with Henry's fair Rosamond, Eleanor is absolutely devastated. It really was heartbreaking to read. It is amazing how back then a man could have many affairs and not be blamed but if a women is even suspected of it, it is treason and the punishment is usually death.

All in all this was a wonderful read. One criticism that I have is once the story got to Eleanor's long imprisonment I thought the book started to read very much like a history book. It seemed to jump from one scene to another with not much story weaved in between.

I borrowed this book from my local library. I have received no compensation for my review and my opinions are my own 
Summary from Paperbackswap
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Marcie said...

I think I'll be adding this book to my TBR list :D Great review!