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Eleanor the Queen by Norah Lofts
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Eleanor the Queen (1955)

by Norah Lofts

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Originally published in 1955, Eleanor the Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Norah Lofts is a novel of the life of the woman who was queen of England and France and mother to men of legend. It is a simply written book and made for a pleasant day’s reading. The story surrounding Eleanor of Aquitaine is one that is fantastic and hard to believe that it is based on some historical fact. What Norah Lofts did so well with her character is not only weave this brilliant woman into all the tales surrounding her, but she made Eleanor a strong and intelligent woman in the process. This book did not deal with court intrigue, there were no secret meetings with lovers. Mostly it dealt with Eleanor’s frustrations trying to communicate with the men in her life and her difficulty at being taken seriously.

To give you a little idea of who Eleanor of Aquitaine is, as I wasn’t really aware when I picked up the book, she was the married to the King of England and mother to King Richard the Lionheart and this book took place during the 12th century during the time when the crusades were popular. If you are still wondering, she also had a young son named John. Still no clues … think man in green tights … still not getting it … yep … she’s the mother of the King during time of the legend of Robin Hood.

Overall, if you are interested in a simple, quick, and rather easy read about a fascinating character in early British history this is a pretty good book to pick up. ( )
  dragonflyy419 | Feb 24, 2011 |
Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the most interesting and powerful women in medieval Europe. She was the heiress of the lands of Aquitaine, married a king of France and a king of England – and outlived them both – and bore ten children. Educated, wealthy and beautiful, Eleanor’s life is a popular subject for biographers and historical fiction. In addition to Eleanor the Queen, re-issued in April fifty-five years after it first appeared on bookshelves, authors Alison Weir, Christy English, Hana Samek Norton, and Cecelia Holland will also release books featuring her this year.

Norah Loft’s version of Eleanor’s life begins in 1137, a few weeks after the death of her father. Knowing she must marry the King of France, she bids her childhood sweetheart farewell…only to see him murdered before her very eyes by her guardian. This inauspicious event is only the beginning of Eleanor’s troubles with King Louis. Eleanor’s appetite for life clashes sharply with the monk-like habits of her new husband, and her desire to join in the leadership of their dominions make her a threat to the king’s advisors. Even the adventure of a Crusade cannot save the troubled marriage, and at thirty Eleanor finds herself a free woman once more after the marriage is annulled. Her second marriage to King Henry of England works well for many years, producing many children, but their relationship becomes strained when Henry’s heirs begin to chafe under his strict control. The King decides that it’s Eleanor’s bad influence that causes his sons’ rebellion, and he imprisons her for years. Abandoned by husband and children, Eleanor feels that she is fading away…but her greatest triumph is still yet to come.

Back in February, I reviewed another of Loft’s books, The Lute Player, and Eleanor the Queen works well as a prequel to Loft’s story of Richard the Lion-Hearted. The Lute Player was written in 1951, four years before Eleanor the Queen, so I wonder if it was originally intended to be read as a series. At any rate, the books fit together very well, with a few scenes even overlapping.

The characters are a little wooden. The first half of the book reads almost like a biography. The characters are very stiff and the author is so intent on telling readers all the interesting things that happen that she doesn’t show much of anything. It’s not until Eleanor starts interacting with her adult children Richard and John that we really see some of the personality and wit that made her such a powerful woman. I do think that with given more pages, Eleanor would have been fleshed out, but at only 300 pages this slim book can only skim the surface of the Queen’s extraordinary life. As a stand-alone book, it's OK, but it's really good when combined with the longer story of King Richard in The Lute Player. ( )
  makaiju | May 27, 2010 |
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Just before the moon rose to full glory over the city of Bordeaux in that June of 1137, a young man who had been moving swiftly and secretively through the deserted streets came to the end of his journey at the foot of a tall round tower.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Originally published as Queen in Waiting; re-published as Eleanor the Queen: The Story of the Most Famous Woman of the Middle Ages; reprinted under original title in 1977.
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Eleanor is young, high-spirited, supremely intelligent, heiress to the vast Duchy of Aquitaine - at a time when a woman's value was measured in terms of wealth. Her vivid leadership inspired and dazzled those about her. And yet, born to rule, she was continually repressed and threatened by the men who overshadowed her life. This is the story of a brilliant, medieval figure - of a princess who led her own knights to the Crusades, who was bride to two kings and mother of Richard the Lion Heart. It is the rich, incredible story of Eleanor Of Aquitaine.
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Eleanor is young, high-spirited, supremely intelligent, heiress to the vast Duchy of Aquitaine - at a time when a woman's value was measured in terms of wealth. This is the story of a medieval figure - of a princess who led her own knights to the Crusades, who was bride to two kings and mother of Richard the Lionheart.… (more)

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