From Publishers Weekly
Already queenly at 15, Eleanor is heiress to Aquitaine and Poitou in her own right and therefore outright prey to any vassal or lord able to get to her first upon her father's untimely death. Never less than lightning-minded, the fair duchess decides that the only lord and master she'll have is the next king of France. Louis VII, however, is a disappointing husband, and during the ill-conceived and poorly prosecuted Second Crusade (1147–1149), she learns just how disappointing he is. Henry Plantagenet, meanwhile, a mere child when she marries Louis, sees in her a beautiful lady, straight and sharp as a sword. Having decided to divorce Louis, Eleanor looks to Henry's father, Geoffrey of Anjou, as her next husband, until she meets Henry. Vivid descriptions of life in the Holy Land and of the Byzantine Court match vivid characterizations; Eleanor emerges as a formidable woman bent on marrying for herself and her political aspirations. (June)
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Years before Eleanor of Aquitaine gained prominence as a strong-willed queen of England, she was the 15-year-old heiress to the richest province of southern France. After her father's unexpected death in 1137, Eleanor brokers her own marriage with Louis Capet, the French king's heir. All too soon, Louis inherits the throne, and Eleanor learns that he's an exceptionally pious man ashamed of his attraction to her. With Louis set on establishing his royal authority, it's left to Eleanor to look out for the interests of her Poitevin countrymen. Despite having greater intelligence and political acumen than her ineffectual husband, she dutifully serves his will, even accompanying him on the Second Crusade. But events in Constantinople and Antioch turn her further against Louis, setting her on a path to divorce and her destiny as Henry Plantagenet's consort. Ball's prose sparkles with colorful images of medieval France and Byzantium; readers may find themselves turning pages slowly to absorb the atmosphere more fully. A compelling portrait of the younger years of one of England's most renowned royal women. Sarah Johnson
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