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The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of…
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The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine (edition 2015)

by Elizabeth Chadwick (Author)

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Title:The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Authors:Elizabeth Chadwick (Author)
Info:Sourcebooks Landmark (2015), Edition: Reprint, 496 pages
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The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Elizabeth Chadwick

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This is the middle volume in the author's trilogy of novels on Eleanor of Aquitaine. I am very familiar with the course of events in Angevin history through numerous novels and works of fiction, so this has a familiar and comforting feel. As a novel told exclusively through the eyes of Eleanor, Henry II does not come across at all well, and the titanic clash between these two larger than life characters comes across vividly (though sometimes in my view it does become a little tiresome). Given their dominance, few other characters really have room to breathe in this novel; Thomas Becket appears of course, and is successively rather hedonistic as chancellor and then dogmatic and inflexible as Archbishop of Canterbury. Isabel and Hamelin are an attractive pair providing some uplifting relief to the ceaseless conflict of the central pair. Overall this is a stirring historical read like nearly all Chadwick's novels, and I look forward to the publication later this year of the concluding part of the trilogy, The Autumn Throne. ( )
  john257hopper | Jul 3, 2016 |
I received this book via net galley in exchange for an honest review.
It is the winter of 1154 and Eleanor, Queen of England, is biding her time. While her husband King Henry II battles for land across the channel, Eleanor fulfils her duty as acting ruler and bearer of royal children. But she wants to be more than this - if only Henry would let her ...
I loved this book! Being someone who has read nearly every Historical & Historical fiction book there is on the subject of Eleanor of Aquitaine you think i might be a bit jaded with yet another one... I was not!! very well written the storyline had me gripped from the first I am just sad that i did not read the summer queen the first in Elizabeth Chadwick's wonderful trilogy i just cannot wait for the next installment.. ( )
  maximeg | Nov 2, 2015 |
...a powerful tale of betrayal

One cannot help but be inspired and awed by Alienor (Eleanor) of Aquitane. In this telling of her story, Chadwick has given her the very human face of wife, of mother and of queen, filled with hope, dashed by the continual betrayal by Henry on all fronts.
Love betrayed turns to icy repudiation and fear. One cannot read this without feeling the heights of Alienor's passion and the depths of her helplessness at Henry's plays for power.
Henry is portrayed as a wilful man of intense passions, a conqueror's arrogance and little compassion. How to hold what he has conquered and take what he hasn't consumes him.
It is difficult to see where the blame might lay for Henry's sons' greed and ambition. Alienor gives us insight into their characters. What we might look at doubtfully she doesn't. As she intimates at one stage when as children Harry and Richard fight over a toy sword, these are princes born to rule and that the male line of the Angevins have the very Devil in them. Unfortunately that means constant sibling rivalry. Continually Henry seems to give to his sons with one hand and take with the other, thus stirring them to anger.
Alienor's reflections about some of the key decisions that Henry makes are level headed and astute. Henry's actions would indeed 'come home to roost.' Thomas A'Beckett being the prime example.
When Alienor is forcibly imprisoned by Henry and treated so abysmally my heart went out to her. Factual or not, the very act of Henry forcing himself sexually upon Alienor epitomizes Henry's lust for power and revenge. Symbolically this was an act of war, an act of anger and an act of attempting to beat Alienor into submission. A very physical act of subverting what had been between them in the past--repudiating that tie.
Surrounded by enemies on all sides, excepting for the faithful Isabel and too few others, Alienor is indeed to be pitied. And yet even this incarceration in the end strengthens her resolve. An amazing woman.
The side story of Isabel is just as fascinating and again leaves the very real impression of noble women and their inheritances as bargaining points, as political rewards for Henry to dispose of as he will. Look to the marriages and alignments of his own daughters.
Chadwick's comments in the author's notes are as always revealing and helpful.
This is a gripping story of the very real drama played out at the personal level between Eleanor of Aquitane and Henry II. A superb companion to The Summer Queen.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Sep 9, 2015 |
Book 2, in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy

This engrossing story opens in 1154 with Eleanor’s coronation and soon plunges us into a rollicking drama where a Queen struggles to achieve some element of equality with Henry, a man with trust issues and completely unable to delegate, in fact a very dangerous ruler she has as husband. “The Winter Crown” follows “The Summer Queen” and magnificently explores another tumultuous period in her life. The story focuses mainly when Eleanor was in her prime years and gave Henry child after child.

Even if this is a fiction the story has an authentic feel to it. It is a thrilling and breathtakingly credible version of personal tragedy. The portrayal of each character and the events surrounding them brings history to life with insight and emotional intensity and makes reading “The Winter Crown” a page-turning experience. Ms. Chadwick imaginative flair paints a rich, vivid story and brings vigour and life into a well-known Queen. The prose and dialogue are light and natural. The everyday life in the court of Henry is not boring, everyone had their use and everyone had a price. The conflicts are passionate and it is very easy to dislike Henry and his overbearing ways and sympathize with Eleanor. It is especially fascinating to see how she played an important role in the feud between her husband and their sons. We also have the drama surrounding Thomas Becket and Henry’s romantic affairs. The novel ends with a captive Eleanor sailing back to England and her destiny will be unveiled in the 3rd installment “The Autumn Throne”.

I appreciated the author’s note enforcing where the known part of history crosses the imaginary and where she enhanced her storyline in order to make this novel a treat for us.

This is a captivating read delivered by a master. ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | Sep 5, 2015 |
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It is the winter of 1154 and Eleanor, Queen of England, is biding her time. While her husband King Henry II battles for land across the channel, Eleanor fulfils her duty as acting ruler and bearer of royal children. But she wants to be more than this - if only Henry would let her.… (more)

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