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This review is full of spoilers if you don’t know anything about Eleanor of Aquitaine.
This is (obviously) the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, from the time of her father’s death to her divorce from whichever King Louis of France (that was never made clear). She plots to become Queen, goes on Crusade, and then divorces her weak, religious husband.
This book was okay. I’ve heard of Eleanor, of course, but I didn’t know much about her. I did learn some things, but the pacing of the book was all wrong for me. The part where she’s trying to choose a husband who will help her hold her father’s lands was pretty quick. All of a sudden, she was a queen. Then she was an unhappy, bored, unappreciated queen. That part dragged on and on. Then she went on Crusade with her husband, on his orders. This was actually pretty interesting. She meets the Emperor of Constantinople, she sees fighting, she discusses strategy with the local leaders, and then her husband grows a backbone, tells her he’s doing everything his way, and she’ll be quiet and like it. Flash forward about three years. We’ve read what feels like her every waking thought for the previous ten or so years, but just when it gets interesting and she starts to show what she’s capable of, we just flash forward. I was disappointed. Then she gets divorced from the mostly spineless King Louis and outwits him to marry Henry Plantagenet. And they lived happily ever after? Who knows? This is where the author just decided to stop. For me, there was way too much of the parts I didn’t care about and very little of the parts that were interesting.
The character of Eleanor was very well-developed. I was interested in her and she felt real to me. Louis was developed enough for me to despise him. Everyone else was pretty flat.
I would say that there have got to be better books about Eleanor of Aquitaine out there. Read those instead.
Reviewed February 25, 2008
Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. Basically, I have hundreds of reviews on GoodReads and I want to post them over here as well. Every Friday I will post one of those old reviews. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement! Be sure to check out her fantastic blog!