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To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine Paperback – Bargain Price, April 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


4 stars "...few authors have presented as intimate a portrait of [Eleanor's] early years and disastrous first marriage as English has... a finely wrought picture of an empowered woman... "
--Romantic Times Book Reviews

"... one of the best written and captivating historical fiction novels of the year... "To Be Queen" is a historical fiction novel you will not want to miss!"
--Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner

"To Be Queen by Christy English is an outstanding work, recreating the early years of Eleanor's life. For anyone who is a fan of historical entertainment, this is a must-have addition to their collection." --Joplin Loves 2 Read

About the Author

Christy English is the author of two historical novels, THE QUEEN'S PAWN and TO BE QUEEN: A NOVEL OF THE EARLY LIFE OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE. She received her undergraduate degree in history from Duke University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451232305
  • ASIN: B0064XAUGQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on April 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Author Christy English takes on the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine in her latest novel To Be Queen. Though this is only English's second novel after 2010's The Queen's Pawn, she commands a strong sense of world-building and historical detail, plus she makes the story feel like it's true to history while still balancing fiction and entertainment for the reader. There's also been an obvious improvement in writing skill and storytelling since The Queen's Pawn, plus English's personal interested in and love for Eleanor of Aquitaine shines through as she seeks to reveal the woman behind the legend.

Eleanor (or, as she was born, Alienor) has spent much of her young life knowing that she was the sole heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine and being tutored by her father in the ways of politics, court intrigues and, most importantly, her duty to Aquitaine and her people. After spending nearly a decade working out a marriage contract, Eleanor's father suddenly dies and Eleanor goes to France to marry the Dauphin, Louis. Not long after, Louis becomes king, and Eleanor finds herself caught between her duty to the people of Aquitaine, her duty to Louis and France and, most importantly, her own ambitions. For when her marriage to Louis yields no male heirs, and no romance, she considers making her own way.

Eleanor of Aquitaine has always been a fascinating woman to me. She defied so many social conventions of the time about women, and dared to follow her own ambitions instead of completely bowing to her husband or any other man. Instead, Eleanor was intelligent, strong, and ruthless (though not so much at this point in her life). Instead, she learns to survive in a man's world.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer P. on August 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
I would have given this book no stars if I could. Ms. English has taken the great and fascinating Eleanor of Aquitaine and turned her into a small, spoiled, mundane, self-centered housewife.

If you're looking for historical information, you'll learn more about Eleanor if you try Wikipedia. If you want sex, you'll be disappointed as any such scenes are over in a couple of lines. If you want romance, Eleanor and her various lovers no sooner exchange glances than bam! they're madly in love. There's no build up, no characterization, no tension. Only her marriage to Louis is dealt with for more than a couple of pages - dully, interminably and in tedious detail.

I was hopeful when the struggle between Eleanor and the Church over Louis began. But nothing much happens and it all sort of fizzles away. Which is par for the course throughout. The actual Eleanor's life is jammed with events and activity. None of which is portrayed in this book. Not much information is available about any woman of the medieval ages, but there is more about Eleanor than most and several other writers have created fascinating portraits. Ms. English lacks the imagination to do so.

The book is written in the first person. This may have been a serious error since a third person narrative would have allowed us to see Eleanor through the eyes of other characters and possibly made us understand why she was so charismatic and compelling. But even that might not have helped. Ms. English is just not up to the task. If you want to read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, pick another author.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lesley West on May 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For people interested in the life and times of Eleanor of Aquitaine, this is a refreshingly different look at her life. Popular fiction is strongly focused on Eleanor's glittering marriage with Henry II and their fiery children, but rarely is her earlier life in Aquitaine and marriage to Louis of France explored.

This is an entertaining novel, true to details and which allows us to almost imagine Eleanor's early life, and fills in those early gaps that fiction otherwise misses. We are given a glimpse of the steel which carried Eleanor through her remarkable and long life, and allowed her to rule in Henry's stead when he was away from his kingdom. We also, sadly, are shown some of her early tragedies, including her affection for her French daughters, never seen again once she left Louis. Recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Misha on June 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Eleanor of Aquitaine is a historical figure about whom I have heard so much about, but had little knowledge of before I read To Be Queen. Christy English has resurrected the life of one of the most powerful women in history. To Be Queen is the first book by the author I've read and it definitely won't be the last. Eleanor, thanks to the author's depiction of her, is now one of my favorite historical figures. How can one not admire her! In a time when being born a woman made you inferior , Eleanor rose to power. She was not just an immensely beautiful woman, but was also a highly intelligent, strong, passionate and determined woman.

Following her father's death under mysterious circumstance, fifteen year old Eleanor becomes the Duchess of Aquitaine. She marries King Louis of France, thus becoming the Queen, which was an ambition of hers ever since she was a child. Paris is completely unlike her beloved Aquitaine where the people were so filled with life and respectful of Eleanor. Paris is gloomy and the people in the court seem to detest her; the Churchmen take every opportunity to bring her down and turn her husband against her. More than anything, people of Paris cannot bear the thought of a woman being powerful and are resentful of Eleanor.

All her wishes and ambition seem to fade away, as Louis turns out to be a weak man. He's the exact opposite of strong-willed Eleanor; he is easily manipulated by the Church and though he genuinely loves his wife, he loves God more. Louis is a good man and devoted to Eleanor, but to someone like his wife, he's an absolute failure as a husband. At first, she accepts her fate and is constantly trying to compete with the Catholic Church for her husband's attention and affection.
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