Young Eleanor has everything to look forward to as the heiress to the wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies suddenly, childhood is over. Forced to marry Prince Louis of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to King and Queen. Leaving everything behind, Eleanor must face the complex and vivacious French court. She is only 13. Barely out of childhood and forced to deal with great scandals, fraught relationships, and forbidden love at every turn, Eleanor finally sees what her future could hold if she could just seize the moment.
“The Summer Queen” by Elizabeth Chadwick was absolutely fantastic. I might be a little biased, since I love anything to do with Eleanor of Aquitaine, but I really can’t say enough good things about this book! The great use of descriptions grabbed me from the beginning, and I was really able to picture what was going on through the use of great imagery. Also, the writing style flowed smoothly, so my interest was kept from beginning until end. I like how the focus was mainly on her first marriage, because had the author tried to fit the adventures of both marriages into one book, I think a lot would have been lost in the telling. I was surprised that the author described Louis and Eleanor’s marriage as somewhat passionate at the beginning. Other books I have read have shown that the marriage was pretty much doomed from the beginning, this novel showed that there possibly was the chance at love between them at first, but through different events in their lives, that chance was ruined. It’s sad that their marriage fell apart due to Louis’ poor advisors and overzealous religious beliefs. However, it is definitely easy to hate Louis in this novel due to the way he treats Eleanor! The adventures that Eleanor had during her lifetime are astounding, and it’s hard not to like someone with as much strength of character as Eleanor of Aquitaine! To think, this novel is only covering the FIRST half of her crazy life! I really like that the author ended the novel (the first in a trilogy!) at a positive point in Eleanor’s life. There are so many ups and downs throughout her life, with one of the major ‘downs’ happening during her marriage to Henry II, so it’s nice to end this first book with a little hope towards her future.
I would 100% recommend this novel to any lover of historical fiction. It has it all, romance, adventure, and intrigue! I give this novel a solid FIVE out of FIVE stars!
Praise for Elizabeth Chadwick: