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The Summer Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of…

The Summer Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine (edition 2014)

by Elizabeth Chadwick (Author)

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192861,408 (4.08)7
Title:The Summer Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Authors:Elizabeth Chadwick (Author)
Info:Sourcebooks Landmark (2014), 512 pages

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The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick



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Born into a life of wealth and privilege, young Alienor of Aquitaine is destined for greatness. However when her father dies prematurely the 13 year becomes the heiress to a vast fortune and is married off to Louis of France. Louis was destined for the Church but the death of his brother meant that he became King of France, however Louis is influenced by ascetic churchmen and this leads to conflict in his marriage to Alienor. Growing to dislike one another the two struggle with their marriage.

The story of Eleanor of Aquitaine is very well-known and has been told many times both as fact and fiction. However her early life is less well covered on the fictional front and in the first book of a planned trilogy Chadwick seeks to address this. In common with most medieval marriages the marriage of Louis and Alienor was dynastic move rather than a love match and, as often is the case, in an age where divorce was unheard of the getout was annulment. The excuse given was consanguinity but given that all the royal houses intermarried this was impossible to avoid. Louis wanted a pious, compliant wife to give him sons, Alienor was too passionate and quite probably his intellectual superior. Whilst much of this book is complete fiction it is backed up by strong research therefore the known facts are not messed with and the day to day life of Alienor is pretty accurate. It is only the emotional parts and the dialogue that are pure fiction. Whilst Chadwick is a writer who does play to the very romanticised end of historical fiction she is a strong writer with a good ear for dialogue and that is what makes this a very readable book. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Ever since I saw Katharine Hepburn as Alienor in “Lion in Winter”, I liked the character so much. That’s why this story intrigued me. I wanted to know what made this woman tick and I had faith in this author to take me on a journey of that discovery. What I didn’t count on was how emotional that journey would be.

The book opens with a thirteen year old Alienor as she sends her father on his way to a pilgramige, but what she doesn’t know is that he’s gravely ill. The conversation her father has with her as he is about to leave is so poignant and touching. He tells her that she is now in charge as his heir and she takes this to heart.

The story is chock full of many historical events and I loved reading about them as much as I loved reading about Alienor.

To follow this girl as she becomes a woman was such a treat and I highly recommend you pick it up.

This is thoroughly researched story and it shows. We follow Alienor’s life from 1137 to 1154, from her becoming Duchess of Aquitaine through her marriage to Louis VII, the future King of France and ending with her second marriage to Henry II of England.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
( )
  bookworm2bookworm | Mar 30, 2017 |
A historical novel of Eleanor (or, more accurately, Alienor) of Aquitaine. The book covers around a 20-year period: from Alienor's girlhood, through her marriage to Louis VI, the annulment of that marriage, and her second marriage, to Henry Plantagenet.

The events presented seem to follow upon known history pretty well, with no more than the expected amount of embellishment for a historical novel. It did turn me off, however, that in the Afterword, rather than simply stating which events were known and which were added for dramatic effect, the author credits 'Akashic research.' Uh, no. That's called "imagination." I have no problem with using your imagination when writing historical fiction, but there's quite a lot of woo-woo on her website where she talks about this. What she describes is creative visualization - but she seems to think she's having 'true visions of the past.' Hmm.

That aside, the book itself is free of woo. It's not bad; you can definitely learn some history from this. I actually felt that it might have erred a bit too much on the side of 'getting in all the facts' rather than creating a dramatic plot. It's written in short chapters illustrating significant events and turning points throughout the 20 years; and the transitions can be quite abrupt, giving the book as a whole a very choppy feel.

Also, although much is made of Alienor's conviction that she is born to power and educated to rule in her own right, there's also a great deal of time devoted to her unhappy marriage, failure to bear Louis an heir, and a lot of bad sex. Although this focus may very well be wholly accurate, I wanted more of her plotting and consolidating her power. There's some of that - but I'm guessing that more will be forthcoming in the two more planned books in this fictionalized biography. (It ends a bit abruptly, with a 'more to come' note...)

Recommended for fans of historical fiction about women of the Middle Ages, and medieval enthusiasts in general.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC. As always, my opinions are my own. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Chadwick has another winner here. I know there are multiple fictional accounts of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s life out there; the author even makes a comment to that effect in her author’s notes. Yet, in Chadwick’s hands, I was experiencing and falling in love with this historical figure all over again.

The world building and historical details Chadwick incorporates is something else. The reader doesn't just read the novel; they experience it. I could feel the warm sun of vibrant Aquitaine, taste the sandy Holy Land grit in my teeth, and hear the bells of Notre Dame in medieval Paris. Few authors can achieve the skill at setting the scene that Elizabeth Chadwick has, and this novel is just another example of how high she sets the bar.

I was spellbound by this account of Eleanor’s life. Chadwick achieved a very delicate balance of the intimately personal with the epic of medieval politics and the Second Crusade. Every individual in story has their own personality, even the minor characters like Eleanor’s uncle and her daughters. Characters whose guts I grew to hate even shown in their characterizations and depth.

Then, of course, there’s the star of the book, Eleanor herself. I loved seeing this vivacious and intelligent woman come to life in circumstances that were less than ideal. She handles the situations that arise in her life with a skill not many could manage, given similar circumstances. Yet, there are also times where her youth or personal urges show through as well. Just another example of Chadwick’s excellent characterization at work.

This is just another great work to point to when illustrating Chadwick’s power as an author. Her characters shine with personality, her story enthralls, and her historical research is illustrated in the small details. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of this trilogy even though I know it won’t be a happy story, anyone familiar with Eleanor’s life history will know that. Yet, I know in Chadwick’s hands, it’ll be a dramatic telling any way the story goes. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 13, 2016 |
This is the first volume of the author's trilogy of novels on Eleanor of Aquitaine. It seems inevitable that the author should tackle this subject as Eleanor's life is so popular a theme for writers of Medieval historical fiction - and with good reason, as it was a life filled with such incident and drama that it could easily read like a novelist's creation. This does not disappoint and is as colourful and readable as her other works. I wouldn't put this quite on a par with The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, but this is very good. ( )
  john257hopper | Jan 4, 2015 |
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Alienor woke at dawn.
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Book description
Young, golden-haired and blue-eyed Eleanor has everything to look forward to as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies suddenly in the summer of 1137, her childhood is over. Forced to marry the young prince Louis of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to being crowned King and Queen of France. Leaving everything behind, Eleanor must face the complex and vivacious French court. She is only 13. Barely out of childhood, and forced to deal with great scandals, fraught relationships and forbidden love at every turn, Eleanor finally sees what her future could hold if she could just seize the moment.
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Thirteen-year-old Eleanor of Aquitaine is forced into a marriage she does not want, and when a death thrusts her into the role of queen, she faces scandal, forbidden love, and the complexities of the ruthless French court at every turn.

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