Ballantine, Jul 13 2020, $26.00
An octogenarian Eleanor of Aquitaine is ready to die. The wife of two monarchs and the mother of several kings, Eleanor is tired as most of her eleven children are dead with only John her youngest and her namesake still alive. She looks back to her years as the unhappy wife of pious King Louis VII of France when she gave him two daughters and an annulment. She was euphoric to meet younger Henry II, but though they had nine children together her happiness died when he began to ignore her astute mind and ultimately her body to look elsewhere for advice and pleasure. Turning to her children, she supports their claims to the throne against their father who was once her passionate lover with nine children in thirteen years. By 1202 with John on the throne, Eleanor wants to move on.
This is an exciting biographical fiction work of the often told story of kingmaker Eleanor whose ambition to be a royal equal to the kings she married and to those she sired make her a fascinating subject who Alison Weir brings to life in five chorological parts. Whereas her first husband was to busy being pious (in ways she could not conceive) for the sexually active queen while her second spouse thought no man or woman even those he married or sired were his equal. Even her children like The Young King Henry and John never saw their mom as their equal; perhaps only Richard of those who sat on the throne came closest. Readers will appreciate the complex Lioness who roared (but not quite as loud as could have been if told by her) for equality willing to break the rules like an annulment, marrying a much younger man, and being the face of rebellion. This is a winning historical fiction tale using facts to tell the story of the Captive Queen who refused to bow down to anyone.