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on 2 October 2017
I was recommended to Elizabeth Chadwick by my sister, who recently died. So I originally began reading it as a nod to her. But thank you dearest Susanne, for the recommendation.
Having read a lot of Philippa Gregory and the Tudor times, it was good to learn a little about their predecessors the Plantaganets. It helps put later history into context.
We follow Alienor from her childhood as the Duke of Aquitaine's daughter and heir, with her hopes and dreams. They are smashed when her Father dies prematurely and she becomes the Duchess of a very rich and powerful land - and a very desirable marriage prospect. Her Father had given thought to that, and arranged for her marriage to Louis vii at the tender age of 13.
We discover what a strong woman she is, accompanying her husband on the Crusades, and the hardship that journey entailed, of her inability to bear sons for him (how I wish these men knew the genetics we now do!), And the eventual breakdown of that marriage, closely followed, for her security, by marriage to Henry of Anjou, though this time arranged by her.
Chadwick has researched the history thoroughly and writes in an easy style, dare I say it, similar to Gregory. The comparison is only because I came to her first.
If you like to learn of our history but don't want to wade through s text book, I can recommend this book -you'll find you're flicking through Google whilst reading it to get more background too!
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on 4 October 2015
Overall, I quite enjoyed this book.

I liked the way Eleanor (Alienor, as according to the author, it’s as her name appears in the Anglo-Norman texts) is portrayed and how the story, even if a bit too factual at times, was interesting to read. Bonus points for the steamy scenes (right quantity and right amount of detail: not too little, not too much) and for including that bit of speculation on her vassal (not going to include spoilers here).

Considering we know already how the ‘story’ ends as this is well-known history, then what makes the most interesting element to explore in historical fiction, in my opinion, is each character’s thoughts, reactions and feelings along with the speculative gaps. While the author did a good job, I have the certain reservations:
– The ‘Akashic records’ as she mentions in her author’s note, I am not too sure what to think of this;
– The constant focus on specific emotions to describe a character’s tone or reaction such as ‘anger’ or ‘happiness’. Basically didn’t follow the “show, don’t tell” principle, which is a shame, considering the character’s development and general descriptions were very good.

Apart from that, I thought there was a good use of the third person omniscient POV – I am impressed myself because I am usually not a fan of this type of narration, but I thought the story flowed quite well, considering we had access to many different character’s thoughts and emotions within the same chapter.
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on 27 March 2016
First time I started this book, it didn't captivate me at all. Too many names, and a slow start. But I was in a vacuum from another finished book, and was not ready to start this one. So I let it sit for a little while, and then brought it back for another go. And this time around, it just spellbound me. All of a sudden Alienor and her family and life just became real among the pages, and it was a joy to read everything that happened to her. Well, mostly - some of the things was rather awful, poor girl - but nonetheless, they were well written.

I love historical fiction, especially when there are elements of both love and humor in it. Some fun plot twists as well, and I found that this was actually a great book to read. At night I had to stop mid-chapter and turn off the lights, because it was always to much of a temptation to read "just a little further". I look forward to read more books from Chadwick.
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on 26 February 2018
I've read a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine but it was quite heavy going...this is a great way to learn about the famous queen without wading through thick historical data.
This novel is one you want to gobble up and finish but you don't want it to end. It tells the story of Eleanor's life from the age of about 13 until just after she married Henry II and she comes to life so beautifully.
Chadwick weaves historical facts into a great tale and she creates a wonderful personality for Eleanor.
This is a fantastic historical novel and a great start to a trilogy.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 May 2014
Eleanor of Aquitaine (or more correctly Alienor) is one of those fabulous women from history who cry out for good fiction and Elizabeth Chadwick has delivered that in spades with this book. Sticking closely to the known facts about her life, this is a fairly intense interpretation of a career which saw Alienor become in turn the ruling Duchess of Aquitaine, Queen of France and Queen of England. Her transition from young girl grieving the early loss of her father, to determined woman struggling with her uncomfortable first marriage to Louis of France, which included following him on Crusade to the Holy Land, is extremely well imagined.

The author has resisted the temptation to "Hollywood" her work and it is all the better for that. The characters, great and small, are clearly drawn and the intrusive pressure of religious dogma on personal lives is smoothly and meaningfully incorporated into the narrative.

I am delighted with the book, and greatly looking forward to Part 2 of the trilogy. What more can one say except that it's a terrific read and highly recommended to lovers of good historical fiction.
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on 26 October 2015
Once again Elizabeth Chadwick hits the mark. I just love her writing , it just brings alive the characters of that era. I have loved history ( particularly Medieval), and although I don't want to study the cold hard facts ( my daughter is doing that), the writing of Elizabeth's books makes it easy to understand and loose yourself in.
I wish I could write as well as this. Currently reading and earlier novel of hers at the moment.
Cant wait to read the second novel in the series, but cant afford it at the moment, so its on my wish list !
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 August 2014
Elizabeth Chadwick's version of the first part of Eleanor of Aquitaine's story is an excellent historical novel. Eleanor is a fascinating figure who inherits Aquitaine on the death of her father and has to marry the king of France as a way of protecting her inheritance. As the story of the increasingly unhappy marriage unfolds, we become increasingly aware of the restrictions on Eleanor but also Chadwick gives us scope to admire her for the fact that she seeks to lead a fulfilling life. Certainly there are adventures aplenty here - some of which are matters of historical record (Eleanor did indeed join her husband to go on a crusade), but also matters for speculation such as some of Eleanor's love affairs. This is a splendid rendition of the life of a real person. We get a real sense of Eleanor's love and longing for Aquitaine, of first her love and then her frustrations with her husband and with her life as queen of France. I'm delighted that it is just the first part of a trilogy. Although quite a long book, it was a page-turning read. If you enjoy Philippa Gregory's novels, then this is worth a look and for another version of Eleanor's story, see also Anne O'Brien's "Devil's Consort". I'm looking forward to reading the second instalment soon.
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on 22 January 2016
Just finished this delightful book. I have thoroughly enjoyed finding out about the remarkable Alienor of Aquitaine. With the focus generally on the Tudors in this genre of female historical fiction what a refreshing change to hear a different story.
The real and imagined intertwining of her story was beautifully crafted. At times I was extremely moved by the injustices of events which involved her directly and felt her powerlessness keenly.

Plenty in this book to appeal to history lovers. Intelligently researched and a very easy to read book- maybe a little too easy. Would have liked a little more

For me personally: spoilt by the dumbing-down inclusion of sex scene after sex scene. Totally unnecessary but maybe, given the success of 50 Shades, the author has lost her way with this one as the book at times felt more like romantic fiction instead of historical fiction and is trying to cover unnecessary (and unwanted) bases. It's made me think twice about the next book I must say.
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on 21 October 2016
Loved the book from start to finish. Like the author, Eleanor has been a favourite of mine since first learning of her nearly 50 years ago. She was an extraordinarily intelligent woman, who led an extraordinary life.
So many history books and novels see the past through men's eyes, when truly it was often the women who kept the world steady and practical. I also appreciate that the author doesn't mix up characters from different times - if they appear here together, they were contemporaries. She also doesn't make up drastic changes to suit her story, but sticks to facts that are known. I really appreciate this and can't wait to read the next volume.
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on 7 July 2017
This book was a truly engaging read, hence the high score. I've read other books about Eleanor, but found this one is probably nearer the truth than others.
Elizabeth Chadwick certainly tells a good tale. Can't wait to read the next 2 novel to complete the set. If you want to know about Henry 11, read this book.
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