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Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
By Alison Weir
Ballantine Books, 2010
Publisher’s Synopsis: Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness—and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.
Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.
But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil’s brood of young Plantagenets—including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry’s formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry’s friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.
Vivid in detail, epic in scope, Captive Queen is an astounding and brilliantly wrought historical novel that encompasses the building of an empire and the monumental story of a royal marriage.
Audio Interview of Alison Weir by Lewis Lapham about her book (MP3 file)
Alison Weir speaks with NPR’s Talk of the Nation
Book Review: Washington Post – “It’s not that the author doesn’t know everything about her subject, but that what she knows isn’t enough.”
Book Review: Winnipeg Free Press – “Weir’s strong non-fiction inclinations make Captive Queen less of a novel and more like a fictionalized history text.”
Book Review: Feminist Review – “For fans of medieval Europe, this book is a must read.”