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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2015
read a lot of Alison's books,always makes me read more of her work
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on 20 April 2010
I wasn't disappointed with this. Maybe it could be argued that the dialogue is rather 'modern' but I think if you are writing about the 12th century it's a necessity really to translate the thoughts and words of the characters into idiomatically understandable English but I couldn't fault the power of the story and its telling or the vice like grip of the narrative. This isn't a period of history I'm as familiar with as the Tudors and I came to Eleanor's story with not much foreknowledge which actually wasn't a bad thing. Perhaps if you are well up on your mediaeval scholarship, you will pick a lot of holes. All I can say for me is that I was gripped through the weekend and it is lingering in my mind. Quite wonderful. I was very moved. It informs and entertains. What more do you want? I'm looking forward to any more novels that Alison Weir writes, having greatly enjoyed her others Innocent Traitor and the Lady Elizabeth. I would have given it 4 and a half stars if possible...not quite perfect for me to give 5.
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on 12 December 2012
My wife ordered this for a reading group. She persevered for a few days but found it unreadable. The writer intersperses cod medievalisms with inappropriate modernisms; the book should be nominated for the Bad Sex Award; Eleanor of Aquitaine is left as a lusty nympho with "chestnut tresses", not the long-lived and powerful political manipulator she really was. If you want a novel about the past, Hilary Mantel's books are infinitely more fun to read, and are real literature.
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on 26 September 2012
A fascinating study of the turbulent marriage between Eleanor and HenryII. It shows how powerful in political terms Eleanor was, and how determined she was to get her own way. But it also shows how highly sexed both she and Henry were and that sexual gratification was the bedrock of their relationship. However to my mind the most interesting fact to come out of this book is Eleanor's deep love of Aquitaine and its warring factions and her realisation that only she had the knowledge of how to rule it effectively. This book is fiction but also a valuable and true historial account of the period.
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on 18 March 2017
I feel I have got to know Eleanor and have some insight into her life. . . . . .
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on 2 March 2017
Brilliant I loved it
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on 17 April 2017
Great quality very happy
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2014
Alison Weir makes another foray into non-Tudor history with this novel about the tempestuous marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II, which complements her biography of this Queen published back in the 1990s. This novel has been judged somewhat more harshly than most of Weir's other works, being considered by many as too Mills and Boon-ish, or even as soft porn, in its portrayal of the passionate physical and emotional relationship between these two extremely colourful figures. While I can see why some readers think that, this is by no means inconsistent with what we know from the historical record about their relationship, and indeed of all the mutual relationships between the Angevins, the "Devil's Brood", who are probably the most colourful set of rulers of this country, along with the Tudors, no doubt the main reason why these two nasties are by far the most popular subjects for writers of historical fiction, as well as, for the most part, for writers for historical non-fiction. I did feel, though, that Weir sometimes fell into the trap of imputing Eleanor with feelings about her marriage and her husband that were too modern for a 12th century character, even one as larger than life as this - by the standards of Medieval kings Henry II's affairs with Rosamund de Clifford and others were not at all unusual and his production of bastards lagged well behind that of the first King Henry. A worldly wise ruler like Eleanor would have known this, though in this novel the clash between her judgement and her emotions is usually resolved in favour of the former. These clashes do make the plot a bit repetitive at times. But these are relatively minor criticisms - any decent novel about the Angevins is almost bound to be a good page turner and this no exception.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2010
Well, you will need to set aside time to read this novel, that's for sure. It requires your concentration and commitment for 2 or 3 days, if you are really to get into the swing of the narrative. I usually read Tudor novels, so this was new ground for me, but I learned a lot along the way, which, I think, is part of Weir's motive for creating these historical tales which are based on her own meticulous research. So, from the bare bones of the biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the author has created a wonderful portrait of this amazing woman, and her complicated life. Married first to the King of France, after that union is annulled, Eleanor quickly becomes the wife of the charismatic Henry II, a volatile man with an insatiable appetite for women. The book covers all the rest of her life, her many pregnancies, and the decline of her marriage from a passionate, all-consuming love affair to a bitter power struggle which continues for years, with the inheritance of the royal children providing the board for the chess-like game that Henry and Eleanor play with each other.

Loads of historical detail, very convincing character portrayals, and a well-drawn picture of a marriage in tatters make this novel a rewarding read.
The relationships between Eleanor and her many children are particularly well represented, also the passionate nature of the woman and her lust for life. I ended up admiring her greatly, not least because of the huge distances she travelled during her life, constantly moving from England to France, from palace to castle, either on horseback or in a litter. Remember this was the 12th Century, no high speed trains back then. The fact that she survived into her 80s, after 11 pregnancies, is also pretty mind-blowing.

A really well-crafted book, clearly a labour of love. Shocking and moving in places, you will definitely shed some tears along the way.

Finally, I enjoyed the deeper messages within this book - passionate love cannot last, people change over time, the bonds between a mother and her children may vary from one child to another, and forgiveness is always the right choice, because without it, bitterness will eat away at any happiness remaining.
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on 22 January 2013
I have seen many mixed reviews about this book but I enjoyed it. I believe it showed a stereotyped character for Eleanor of Aquitaine and didn't perhaps explore her motives in as much depth as I would have liked but went with the 'rumour' version of her. However I found the book read at a good pace and gave a good overview of the story of Eleanor and Henry. It is a good introduction for someone like me who likes to start building up a picture with the fictional accounts and then delve into the historical facts when I feel more comfortable and familiar with the stories to see what actually is accurate. So far this is the second fictional account I have read of Eleanor and I have also read the chapter on her in Lisa Hilton's Queen's Consort. I found the book very enjoyable, enjoyed the detail provided about the era, although would have liked more of this and didn't find the sexual scenes over powering as some have commented. I do not read romance novels and did not feel this had degenerated into a rompy romance as some have commented. There were some references within the text that became repetitive but not to the extent that you will find within Philippa Gregory novels. It was also clunky in some aspects where the author had charatcers retelling stories/legends of the past.

I am left liking Eleanor's character and wanting to read more about her. As a fairly new Plantagenet reader this has also wet my appetite for more from the family ie Richard and John and more about courts and general life in this era. I do feel a little confused about Henry ii and don't feel I understand his character through reading this book.
Personally I would recommend the book as an enjoyable read. I have given it four stars as I enjoyed it, couldn't put it down and read through it very quickly
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