Eleanor of Aquitaine-a woman who is often portrayed as fierce, cunning, wily, and wanton- defied the precepts of the period she lived in. Women of her day were expected to be meek and subservient, to be treated little better than brood mares to be bought and sold via marriage in whatever way would benefit the men surrounding them. Eleanor was none of these things. Eventually she would turn into the formidable woman we are used to seeing her as. But how did she get there? She didn't crawl out of the cradle with the ability to manipulate men to her will. This is the picture Christy English paints for the reader in To be Queen: the young Eleanor-self assured but with a certain vulnerability.
I must say I really liked this Eleanor. I appreciated the more in depth look at her relationship with the pious Louis and her struggles to adapt to the uptight French court. You can tell Eleanor and Louis genuinely care about each other but are far too different for things to ever really work. As the book is from Eleanor's point of view, the focus remains on her throughout but the rich history of the time is woven nicely in the background. I also liked that the history was tweaked just enough to make the story work but not so much that it would render the story unbelievable.
If there is ever an area in historical fiction novels I tend to have problem it is usually the romance department. I was a little worried about how it would be handled here given that this portrays Eleanor at a young age and every other account I've read of her she has been shown as a man-eater. I was really happy with the way the author handled this aspect. She did not go the stereotypical Eleanor route but instead included relationships/love scenes only if they added something to the story and served to build Eleanor's character. At 400 pages, this was somewhat of a quick read. The writing here is clear and uncomplicated which lends to the sincerity of Eleanor's voice. I think this would be a great starting point for anyone who needs an introduction to this fascinating lady.
This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review
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