TO BE QUEEN
Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the most fascinating women in history. Most readers know of her tempestuous marriage to England’s King Henry, which was dramatized in A Lion in Winter, but few authors have presented as intimate a portrait of her early years and disastrous first marriage as English has. Treachery, passion and power are woven into young Eleanor’s life story, giving readers a finely wrought picture of an empowered woman surviving and thriving in a period when women had no power.
Eleanor was raised by her father to fully understand the tangled web of politics that surrounds the courts of Europe and the position she will take as a duchess. Beloved by her people, the young girl gains their loyalty and devotion. When her father dies and the 15-year-old ascends to the throne she is prepared to be the Duchess of Aquitaine, not the most sought-after prize in France. King Louis of France is charmed by Eleanor and determined to make her his bride. However, the young Louis is easily manipulated by the church hierarchy — something Eleanor cannot accept. Not based on love and with little in common, their marriage is doomed from the start, but then Eleanor meets the young, charismatic Englishman Henry of Normandy. Their immediate attraction compels Eleanor to sever her marriage to Louis and marry the man she loves with a passion so powerful they have the means to win the throne of England. (NAL, Apr., 400 pp., $15.00)