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Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine Paperback – 7 Jun 2011

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Paperback, 7 Jun 2011

Product details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library (7 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780451234117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451234117
  • ASIN: 0451234111
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne O'Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters in Education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding for many years as a teacher of history.

After leaving teaching, Anne decided to turn to novel writing and give voice to the women in history who fascinated her the most, beginning with Virgin Widow, which told the story of Anne Neville, the wife of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Since then, she has told the stories of Eleanor of Aquitaine in Devil's Consort, Alice Perrers, the mistress of Edward III, in The King's Concubine, Katherine de Valois, the child bride of Henry V, in The Forbidden Queen and Katherine Swynford, mistress of John of Gaunt, in The Scandalous Duchess. Her latest novel The King's Sister is the story of Elizabeth of Lancaster, caught up in dramatic and bloody family politics in the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV.

Today Anne lives in an eighteenth century cottage in Herefordshire, an area full of inspiration for her work.

Visit Anne online at www.anneobrienbooks.com
Find Anne on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @anne_obrien

Product Description

By O'Brien, Anne [ [ Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine ] ] Jun-2011[ Paperback ]

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Leicester Actor on 17 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having just finished reading Anne O'Brien's book "Devil's Consort" about Eleanor of Aquitaine I was eager to read this novel "Queen Defiant" by her which is also about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Unfortunately, on opening the first page I immediately recognised the opening paragraph! Checking through the book I realised it is the same book as "Devils Consort" but with a different title. Nowhere is it indicated that these books are the same. I have now returned this book.
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By D. A. on 1 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good entertaining read with all the action and love interest a lady would enjoy. Anne O'Brien is a great favourite.
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By Mr. M. E. Wiliiams on 28 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very interesting and gripping tale.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By History Buff on 6 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
Anne O'Brien has captured the essence of Eleanor of Aquitaine perfectly. Drawn into her world of politial intrigue where a woman was merely a pawn to be used by men to further their own ambitions the reader is made aware of the heroine's determination and courage to survive at any cost. A gripping story from start to finish repetitions notwithstanding. Highly recommended
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Just another in the looooooooooong parade of Eleanor novels 19 Jun 2011
By Misfit - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Frankly, it is starting to wear very very thin and they all seem to be such a carbon copy, none bringing anything fresh to the table.

Author O'Brien's very fanciful take on Eleanor of Aquitaine begins in 1137 as Louis of France arrives to claim his young and oh-so-wealthy bride. Louis brings Eleanor to Paris, and she's immediately turned off at the filthy, smelly, uncouth and ever-so-tacky Frankish court (Aquitanians being gracious, classy and the artibers of everything in good taste). You will be constantly clubbed over the head with this throughout the novel just so that you don't forget it. Louis would rather be on his knees praying to God than bedding his wife, so things don't exactly get off to the best start and they definitely don't get better. After Louis' disastrous crusade Eleanor's had just about enough and is set on winning her freedom and defiantly demands an annulment(read: nags until she gets her way).


While not near as dire as Weir's disastrous Captive Queen, there really isn't a lot to recommend this either. If you've read one of this latest spate of Eleanor novels, you've read them all and they all make ample use of all the old rumors of affairs with ---- and ------. The historical facts are questionable at best, and the historical setting itself was more of the wall-paper variety - it felt more like modern characters in historical costumes play acting their parts. Library only, then buy it if you love it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Better than The Virgin Widow 7 Jun 2011
By Amanda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After reading The Virgin Widow, I had high hopes for Anne O'Brien's future historical novels. I thought she was off to a great start in the genre and had plenty of promise. While I think that promise was definitely delivered upon in her follow up novel, Queen Defiant, I have to admit that it bugged me just a little bit. Queen Defiant is yet ANOTHER novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine. While I know that she's a fascinating woman, I think that I have just been Eleanor-ed out. I've read no fewer than three books this year about Eleanor (including a near-clone of Queen Defiant, To Be Queen, just a few months ago), and last year I read around four Eleanor books -and more seem to be slated for release.

As much as I love Eleanor, she's just not original out there in the historical fiction genre these days. As much as I just tried to forget about that and enjoy this novel, I couldn't get that out of my head -that O'Brien is a little late to the Eleanor party (and we really don't need anyone else at the Eleanor party).

Queen Defiant tells the now well-documented story of Eleanor of Aquitaine's early years. The novel opens with Eleanor's wedding to King Louis of France, not long after Eleanor's father died and Eleanor was left as the heir to the wealthy Aquitaine area. But Eleanor and Louis' marriage is anything but happy -not only is Louis a weak and inept leader, but he prefers to live his life as a monk, rather than work at fathering sons. Eleanor soon finds herself unhappy with Louis, and she starts to make her own road to happiness.

Though I've read about Eleanor before, I think that O'Brien does a great job of portraying her as a strong, somewhat unconventional woman who dared to seek out her own happiness in a world dominated by men while making her feel like a sympathetic character. Louis, though a weak leader, has a well-defined, strong character that leaps off the page for the reader and makes it easy for readers to understand Eleanor's frustration.

While I've read better and worse Eleanor of Aquitaine novels, Queen Defiant deserves a place on your bookshelf, as a worthwhile read. Though the plot does drag a bit a point and the setting was somewhat weak in places, especially near the beginning, the characters are well-drawn, fascinating and definitely a step forward from The Virgin Widow.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Competent but nothing more 1 Feb 2012
By Judith Loriente - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Anne O'Brien's The Virgin Widow was abnormally good for a work of contemporary historical fiction, so I expected this to be a really good read. It isn't. It's lightweight, a lot of the dialogue sounds more like that of a romance novel than a historical novel - eg trite and clichéd arguments between husband and wife - and Eleanor of Aquitaine comes across as a bit of a bimbo rather than a femme fatale.

It's written in the first person, and chronicles Eleanor's life from the time of her marriage at age fifteen to the monkish Louis VII of France, whose temperament is completely ill-matched to that of his sensuous and life-loving wife, eventually leading her to seek love elsewhere. The fact that she bears her husband a daughter but no male heir further damages their relationship. The marriage continues to fall apart as Eleanor follows Louis on crusade to the Holy Land, demands an annulment, has an affair with her uncle, demands an annulment, miscarries her uncle's child, asks the pope for an annulment, reconciles with Louis and bears him a second daughter, demands an annulment, finds out that Louis is finally willing to agree to one, receives her freedom and hastily marries her true love, Henry Plantagenet. Not long afterward Henry and Eleanor are crowned King and Queen of England, and that's the end of the book.

In short, this novel is unremarkable and not particularly engaging. Had I not read and liked one of Anne O'Brien's other books, I'm not sure that I would have bothered to finish it. Nonetheless, it's competently plotted and competently written, and can just scrape in at three stars.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Kings! 25 Nov 2012
By nannapooh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What is it with kings? O'brien writes an intriguing story of a woman who is chosen by the queen for her husband the king. It is an engaging and unpredictable and catches you off guard at every turn.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
engaging biographical fiction 10 Jun 2011
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Her father trained her to be more than a duchess. When he died Eleanor knew how fragile her possession of the Duchy of Aquitaine is due to her gender and her youth. She needs a powerful husband who she can manipulate. However, her arranged marriage by her father before he died, to French king Louis VII proves frustrating as he turns out to be too week to disobey the church. Her brazen attitude sits well in Aquitaine, but not amongst the royal priests, family and retinue. When she meets Henry Plantagenet, she decides to dump her French spouse for an English husband.

Although the story of Eleanor has been told a zillion times (see The Captive Queen by Alison Weir), Anne O'Brien provides a fresh perspective. Eleanor is intrepid as she challenges the church leaders who control her husband. Her request for an annulment is granted mostly to get this thorny rose out of a position of power and influence only she crossed the Channel and married into an even more powerful position due to her strong spouse. This is an engaging biographical fiction.

Harriet Klausner
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