Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review and Giveaway: "The Summer Queen" by Elizabeth Chadwick

From Goodreads:  Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor's legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .

My Thoughts:  

Likes:  I have read a lot of books about Eleanor of Aquitaine but what makes this book unique is that it focuses on her life before she became Queen of England.  Most books gloss over this period in her life so I really enjoyed the unique view Ms. Chadwick provides of Eleanor's early life.  Her early life as Queen of France is presented in great detail and I felt like it gave me a better understanding of the person that she became later in life.  She is referred to as Alienor in this story as this is what she would have been called.  I also loved how Ms. Chadwick had Alienor interact with her contemporaries; the dialogue in this book is great and all of the characters seemed to come to life.  

Ms. Chadwick described the period when Alienor and Louis went on Crusade and I think that was my favorite part of the book.  I know very little about that period in her life and I found it fascinating.  I especially liked how she detailed Eleanor's relationship with her uncle Raymond of Antioch in an effort to put the incest rumors to rest.

As I've mentioned many times before, authors win major brownie points with me when they include detailed author's notes with their books.  I love knowing what was true or not and what sources were used while the author was researching the book.  Ms. Chadwick did an extensive amount of research for this book and I think it is reflected in the quality of the story.

Characters:  Alienor was smart and tough and seemed to have a better grasp of political issues than her husband. She was an admirable character that you couldn't help feeling sympathetic toward.  Louis was a ridiculous jerk; I did kind of feel sorry for him because he just seemed so unprepared for life in the real world but he was still a jerk.  Petronella was a really interesting character.  I liked her in the beginning but was surprised to see her slowly fall apart as the story went on. I wish there was more information out there about her because she piqued my interest.

Dislikes:  The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it was kind of slow moving at times.  The story is very detailed and sometimes it felt like things kind of got bogged down.

Overall, this is a great book for those interested in Eleanor's/Alienor's life prior to her reign as Queen of England. 3 1/2 stars.

 I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

About the Author:

Elizabeth Chadwick (UK) is the author of 20 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, The Outlaw Knight, 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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  1. I won this book a few months ago, but of course have yet to actually read it. Hopefully I'll get to it later this year... but we'll see

  2. Hallo, Hallo Denise! :)

    I liked the fact that we both are attracted to historical fiction novels, and we both like to share our observations about what we read as we read the novels that cross our paths! I decided to take a chance on this particular book by Ms. Chadwick (in the bookaway) as I liked the points you brought up about what worked for you in the story & the fact that the story was a bit slow-moving, I must say I tend to like stories like that personally! I know what you mean though if a novel appears to lose its rudder and direction, but if it is simply slow paced as to show all the perspectives and details of a character's life (including those based on real people who lived!) then I knew I would appreciate the narrative overall!

    I have become a bit attached to biographical fiction novels, and I wanted to thank you for highlighting this one! On your brownie point system, I always look for 'extras' included in novels too! One of the last favourites I read for an Author's Note was for "The Lost Duchess" where I learnt quite a heap about the real circumstances leading up to the Lost Colony of Roanoke!

    Lovely review & insights!
    Thank you!

    ps: Will earmark this off for my Library TBR List just in case I do not win! :)


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