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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review: The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick


The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
Book 1 in Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy
ARC, eBook, 497 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
July 1, 2014
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Historical fiction

Source: Received for review via Netgalley

“Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.
This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13.
Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor's legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .”

The Summer Queen is the first in a planned trilogy by Elizabeth Chadwick featuring Eleanor (or Alienor) of Aquitaine. This novel focuses on her younger years, time as Queen of France while married to King Louis, and the earliest years of her marriage to Henry, Duke of Normandy. I have read a novel or two that also focus primarily on this time period, however, Chadwick brings a new interpretation and life to Alienor.

As Chadwick chooses to call her main character by Alienor, I will here too. For me, it helped to separate this character from the one I have read in other novels, so it allowed for a fresh interpretation. Alienor was strong, crafty, and determined to make the best out of bad situations. Anyone who could put up with the man that King Louis became deserves just a little bit of credit. This part of her life is a prime example of sometimes money/fame/being queen isn’t everything if all the other parts of your life are miserable.

I think that Chadwick did a fantastic job of presenting Alienor in a realistic light. There are a great many myths and stories that surround her and Chadwick makes choices, filling in the historical blanks, that make the most sense with her interpretation of the historical record. At no point did Alienor feel out of place or stepping beyond her role, as some authors have made her do. She was a real woman living and breathing in her time.

Speaking of living and breathing, the world that these characters live in utterly came to life within the pages. One of Chadwick’s strengths is that she brings the historical world that we will never experience to life in a way that is relatable to us in the modern day.

While the William Marshal novels will also be my Chadwick novels of choice, I have faith that the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy will be right up there, because The Summer Queen was a great start!

Author Elizabeth Chadwick also has written many other books, too many to list really. Here is the complete list.  You can visit Chadwick’s website or one of her blogs for additional information about the books.

For another take on The Summer Queen, check out this music list compiled by the author.

My reviews of other books 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).


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. This looks like something to check out.

  2. When I first saw it here on your blog, I already added it to my wishlist. Now that you've reviewed it I am even more determined to pick this up. And I love the cover! Pretty dress <3.


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