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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: To Be Queen by Christy English


To Be Queen by Christy English
ARC, Paperback, 400 pages
NAL Trade
April 5, 2011
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Author for Review for HFBRT Event
“The author of The Queen's Pawn delves into the early life of the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine in her new historical novel.

After her father's sudden death, fifteen-year-old Eleanor is quickly crowned Duchess of Aquitaine and betrothed to King Louis VII. When her new husband cannot pronounce her given name, Alienor becomes Eleanor, Queen of France.

Although Louis is enamored of his bride, the newly crowned king is easily manipulated by the church and a God that Eleanor doesn't believe in. Now, if she can find the strength to fight for what she wants, Eleanor may finally find the passion she has longed for, and the means to fulfill her legacy as Queen.”

In her follow-up to the highly enjoyable The Queen’s Pawn, Christy English brings us back a few years to a young Alienor who is just coming into her own as the up-and-coming Duchess of Aquitaine. We have the great privilege to follow Eleanor from Aquitaine to France, to the Holy Land and finally (at the very end) on to England. This novel allows us to really get a sense of how she came to be the powerful woman we know and love – the one who constantly opposes King Henry in The Queen’s Pawn. I really found myself liking this young Eleanor much more than the hardened Eleanor of later life – she was just so passionate.

I was also allowed the chance to get to know characters that were less familiar to me. Eleanor’s sister, Petra, plays an important role in the running of Aquitaine after Eleanor becomes Queen of France – I didn’t even know she had a sister but I quickly became a fast fan. King Louis was a more complex character than I initially thought. The relationship between him and his wife was interesting to watch develop – it was also painful to watch fall apart. You also get to see what attracted Eleanor to a young Henry of Normandy – he was determined and powerful – how could you not be attracted to him?

One of the strengths of the author in this novel was the ease in which she evokes the senses – sight and smell particularly. It really builds and adds to the descriptions of the world around us. The trip to the Holy Land was nothing like I imagined whenever I would hear that Eleanor went on Crusade with Louis. This trip was less focused on the events transpiring while en route and more on the evolution of Eleanor as a person. Building upon this, Christy develops a total woman in Eleanor – she is not just the stereotyped woman, although you can see where these famous stereotypes come from. We get to see a woman with flaws, but a woman who learns from them and grows.

A wonderful novel – just slightly more enjoyable than The Queen’s Pawn, mostly because I liked this version of Eleanor better. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!

Christy English has also written The Queen’s Pawn (you can find my review later this week). You can visit her website for additional information about her books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

My reviews of other works by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


 
Also going on today as part of the HFRT event:
@ HFRT - "Getting to Know Christy English"
@ Hist-Fic Chick - Christy's Guest Post - "All We Have Left of Her"
 
 
 



Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

11 comments:

  1. Great! I certainly love this time period and your review is convincing - I might just enjoy this book myself. I can never get tired of the Plantagenets.

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  2. Love historical fiction, good review, thanks.

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  3. I can't wait to read this book! Great review. ^.^

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  4. Great review, Heather! I loved this book as well. I agree.. Petra was someone who added a lot of depth to this story. She was also in Pamela Kaufman's novel on Eleanor which I really enjoyed about 3 years ago, you should pick it up.

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  5. Lovely review! I might start with this one since you enjoyed this Eleanor more!

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  6. Marie - I will have to keep my eyes open for that book. Thanks!

    Audra - it's also better to read this one first if you are one who likes to read chronologically, but both were still very good reads.

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  7. Wonderful review. I must read this book. I wish you would start writing uninviting reviews because you are really adding piles to my TBR. This book is on order at my library and I placed a hold on it.

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  8. Teddy - HAHA! Hope you love it!

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  9. Great review Heather you do have a way with words and you hit it right on the button with it was more focused on Eleanor's evolution.

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  10. This sounds like a great read.
    Laura
    laura.leahj@gmail dot com

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