Alison Weir has written a very entertaining novel of the turbulent life that Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine spent together, ruling the greatest empire in Christendom.
She paints Eleanor as a remarkable woman, kept captive, as the title suggests, not just by the walls of her imprisonment in later life, but also by the conventions of the time that stated that her husband ruled in all things. Her frustrations at the limitations of the time are clear, and we know from the histories that this is not just a modern take on a medieval woman - when allowed to rule as Duchess of Aquitaine or Regent of England she did so fairly and was well loved and respected.
If I don't give this review 5 stars its becuase Ms Weir weaves into the novels some of the old scandals that were aimed at this high profile woman at the time - runours of infidelity primarily, and whereas they do add a flavour to the fictional Eleanor, I find that to a degree they lessen the picture of her that she is trying to portray. Having said that, the interactions between Henry and Eleanor are magnificent, and the reader truly feels that they are privvy to the machinations of a marriage at its best and at its worst.
This is fine historical fiction, about two of the most interesting people that ever lived. Their children were an interesting lot too, clearly keeping their parents on their toes.
This is a very good read, and reflects the events of the time well. Recommended.
In 1202 the eighty-two-year old Eleanor of Aquitaine is at last ready to meet her Maker, nine of her eleven children dead before her, Henry II long in the grave after a brilliant reign, tumultuous marriage and years of fighting with his four heirs, Henry (The Young King), Richard the Lionhearted, Geoffrey and John. From the days of Eleanor's marriage to Louis VII of France (1137), the dissolution of that bond to wed Henry FitzEmpress and the passion that spawns a great and fruitful union, Weir relates … more