After reading Philippa Gregory’s horribly unsatisfying depiction of Lady Margaret Beaufort, I was more than a little relieved to find that Alison Weir didn’t follow suit with Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her Eleanor was every bit as I have always pictured her, although it baffles me how anyone could have expected a “marriage of equals” from a Plantagenet. Or from any man, for that matter. In the Middle Ages, men pretty much owned their wives and children. Murder, of course, was frowned on by the Church, but the secular authorities would have looked the other way if he had “just cause”. Or if they found no political advantage in siding with the wife. That was the harsh reality of the times. But Eleanor, with the vast lands of Aquitaine to bolster her ego, would probably have been that arrogant.
I also enjoyed Weir’s portrayal of Henry. He has always struck me as a perpetual spoiled child. If he sees a pretty treat, he has to have it, for no other reason than because he wants it. When someone tells him “no”, that only makes him more obdurate, and, if he can’t get his way by crook or charm, then he throws a dramatic tantrum. The consequences don’t matter. Other people’s thoughts and feelings do not matter. As long as he gets his way. That describes Henry Plantagenet to a tee. A spoiled child. Unfortunately, it also describes his sons.
Alison Weir brings these people to breathing life in the pages of this book. I enjoyed this book immensely. This is historic fiction at its best.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars