Monday, June 13, 2011

To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christy English

To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christy English (Rated: S)
New American Library
ISBN: 978-0451232304
Published April 5, 2011
Trade Paperback, 400 pages

What an engrossing read! Christy English has managed the incredible feat of taking the much-read and written-of Eleanor of Aquitaine and bringing her alive through the pages of To Be Queen. The author's writing is seductively seamless and unencumbered and draws the reader in quickly and effortlessly. I absolutely loved reading this book!

The novel covers Eleanor's life from childhood as she is taught by her father, the Duke of Aquitaine, to her marriage with King Louis VII, her rule as Queen, and finally, to her annulment after fifteen years of marriage. With captivating prose, the author sweeps the reader into the world of royalty, power, betrayal, and treachery. Written in the first person, we experience Eleanor's life through her eyes, her desires, her ambitions and her losses. I especially enjoyed the journey into the Empire of Byzantium. Again, the exotic world was easily captured and revealed through the author's deft pen.

The character of Eleanor is so well built that from the beginning the reader is captivated by this strong woman who fights to rule at a time when men dominated the throne. She encounters many enemies along the way, and I was fascinated to see how she handled herself in the French court and partially gained her husband's ear even though he was pulled by the corrupt teachings of the Church.

In the end, though, King Louis stood in the way of her desire to be free to rule her own kingdom. He did not share her ambition and remarkably, Eleanor succeeded in doing something only men were known do to—dissolve her marriage union. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and sought it no matter the cost. I am always amazed at how children of royalty are really not brought up by the king and queen at all but rather prepared by the court to be “sold” into a marriage contract for political alliances when barely into their teens.

I have no doubt that fans of historical fiction will devour this one quickly. I am eagerly anticipating more from this fascinating storyteller, and I will look to read her other historical novel The Queen's Pawn at my earliest convenience.

Note: Although tastefully written, this book contains three explicit sex scenes.

I will count this book for the following challenges: Historical Fiction Challenge

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Christy English was here for an event not too long ago and I couldn't make it. I heard it was fabulous and you've made it sound like her book is too.

  2. @Bermudaonion
    You've got such great author events in your part of the world. I'm envious!

  3. I'm so happy to hear that you loved this one as much as I did. I actually have her earlier work The Queen's Pawn and absolutely LOVED IT!

    You have to find that one or I could lend you my copy.


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