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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Captive Queen

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Review of Captive Queen by Alison Weir

Overview from Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor of Aquitaine has spent the past dozen frustrating years as wife to the pious King Louis VII of France. But when Henry of Anjou, the young and dynamic future king of England, arrives at the French court, he and the seductive Eleanor experience a mutual passion powerful enough to ignite the world. Indeed, after the annulment of Eleanor’s marriage to Louis and her remarriage to Henry, the union of this royal couple creates 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 and bitter betrayals. Amid the rivalries and infidelities, the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, and the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will threaten to engulf them all.

My Review:

Wow, another long book. I sure hope the next book isn’t this long. I have however, once again, returned to fiction. This one about Eleanor of Aquitaine. It is called Captive Queen, written by Alison Weir who I believe is a famous historian over there on the other side of the pond. The novel covers a large period of Eleanor’s life though not all of it.

First I have to admit that I was tempted to stop reading this one after the first few chapters. If it had not been for Weir’s reputation, I most certainly would have. These chapters are quite bawdy and contain many f bombs, too many in my opinion. I have to say though that I am glad I didn’t give up on it because the tale is an interesting one and those elements do give the reader an idea of the sorts of persons both Eleanor and Henry were.

Upon finishing the book, I have to admit what amazed me most was just how long Eleanor lived. She was in her eighties on her death which must have been very unusual for the time period. And yet she seemed to have lived a very full life even if it was not entirely good. She made the best of her situation most of the time and didn’t seem to hesitate when it came to admitting her own faults.

In the novel, we start with the annulment of her first marriage to one of the Louis, king of France. It seems Eleanor is unhappy with this arrangement since her husband rarely visits her bed and would make a better monk than priest.

As she embarks on her next marriage to Henry, all seems well at first. They have a huge empire that stretches all the way to England when Henry inherits the crown from King Steven. But differences of opinion later separate them as Eleonor takes her sons’ part in the disagreement which will eventually land her in prison.

The story is probably worth checking out, particularly if you are interested in the lives of either Eleonor or Henry but keep in mind that is not entirely a happy one. Let me know what you think.

Side note: I will be going on vacation for a while so there will not be any new posts to this blog for a few weeks. Thank you for your understanding.

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