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The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine Paperback – September 1, 2015
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"A fabulous, engrossing and rollicking read that takes the reader into the very heart of the Angevin royal court with all of its schemes, plots and drama... This is a brilliant book and a veritable treat for fans of historical fiction Elizabeth Chadwick's writing creates a vividly compelling and richly flamboyant Medieval world that readers can really immerse themselves in." - Madame Guillotine
"Elizabeth Chadwick still manages to weave a gripping story which I found unputdownable. Her characters, both the real and the imagined minor ones, live and breathe and have distinct personalities of their own... Highly recommended." - Historical Novel Society
"Moving, touching and historically accurate a marvelous read for Chadwick fans. 4 1/2 Stars" - RT Book Reviews
About the Author
"A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here,"-USA Today. Chadwick is the bestselling author of over 20 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, The Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Awards.
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I look forward to reading the third book in this series which should be published in a few months.
Eleanor's life story is one of my favorites, and I have probably read at least ten books with her as a feature character. Her legend is a remarkable one as a Duchess becoming a Queen of France, a Crusader, and then a Queen of England, while raising kings and daughters to kings.
I was completely enthralled with the first installment of the Eleanor trilogy, The Summer Queen. The Winter Crown took on a bit of its name and seemed a bit more cold and less passionate, but given the subject matter I could hardly complain. Here Eleanor is already married to Henry II and the novel opens to his coronation in 1154 ending with her incarceration at Sarum in 1174.
These are the years of childbearing, all seemingly done as part of duty rather than love. Eleanor does her best to raise the children as Henry pulls the strings along the way, leaving little room left for Eleanor's wishes. She is portrayed as a regal Queen, and not as a sex-driven wanton as other writers have made her out to be, and Eleanor seems much more subdued in this story. It is very easy to dislike Henry and his overbearing ways and to sympathize with Eleanor and her lack of power. The Thomas Becket affair is addressed, along with the romantic affairs of Henry and how these events affected Eleanor.
Where previous books had shown Eleanor to be less of a mother and more of a Queen, Chadwick does put forth a more caring visage in this representation, which helps to endear us to Eleanor. Another welcome addition was the inclusion of a friendship between Eleanor and Isabel de Warrenne, and the gallant character of William Marshal was also appreciated. Chadwick's novel is foremost a story of Eleanor; the focus is on her, flaws and all, and not simply a rehash of absolutely everything that happened to Henry and his kingdom.
The last installment of the trilogy (The Autumn Throne) coming in 2016 will hopefully represent a thawing of the chains around Eleanor as she guides her sons closer to the coveted throne. Henry II has to die at some point -and as bad as it may sound- I look forward to that occurring in the last book, just as I look forward to seeing the fruits of Eleanor's labor come to light. Elizabeth Chadwick shows off her research and hones in on Eleanor and her character, and I am hoping for a very intriguing climax during the finale of the trilogy. If you haven't read many books on Eleanor before, this will be a treat for you.