Eleanor the Queen
Touchstone, Apr 20 2010, $15.00
In the twelfth century, Eleanor of Aquitaine was probably the most influential woman in Europe. She married French King Louis VII and accompanied the devout ruler on the failed Crusade in the Holy Land; there she was not just an idle observer. However, though she gave him two daughters, she could never fully get past his male advisors who her spouse preferred to heed. Fifteen years after they marriagd, they divorced. Back in Aquitaine, she met teenager Henry Plantagenet, twelve years her junior. They marry and one day soon he became England’s King Henry II of England. They had many offspring and seemed a perfect couple until she discovered his infidelity with Rosamonde. Her furor led to a family schism between her husband and their sons as she lingered in prison for almost two decades.
This is a superb biographical fiction tale starring a strong medieval woman who was queen to two powerful kings in two countries. Eleanor comes across somewhat as a modern female, which attracted powerful men to her, yet ironically also led to her troubles with them. Twelfth century France and England are vividly described as is the failed Crusade. However, even with several powerful rulers in her life, Eleanor the Queen rules over her spouses and offspring monarchs in Norah Loft’s fine historical fiction novel.