TO BE QUEEN by Christy English was published in April of 2011 and is 378 pages. It is a story of the early life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I was sent a copy for review because of how much I enjoyed Anne O’Brien’s novel of Eleanor, QUEEN DEFIANT. This novel was every bit as enjoyable as the other, and I loved reading the similarities and differences in the portrayals of Eleanor from each author.
TO BE QUEEN begins in July of 1132 at the lodge of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, where he instructs his daughter, Eleanor, on how to lead and survive amongst the ruthless political schemers of the region. Her father’s love and lessons in maintaining her dignity and emotions in all situations while displaying power are timely and serve Eleanor well, as a suspicious death meets the Duke while he’s on travel.
Suddenly an unmarried Duchess in highly coveted lands, and with her sister in her charge, Eleanor is forced to bring the marriage contract to Louis the VII to fulfillment. She is optimistic when she finally meets the handsome, innocent king who has been raised in a monastery, and believes he’ll have time to reach full maturity before his father dies and he becomes king. Another suspicious set of circumstances, however, claim Louis’s father’s life, and Louis VII and Eleanor become king and queen of France.
Trapped with a weak husband who is manipulated by the church, and left cold in her bed, Eleanor turns to other plots and plans to control her destiny and gain her independence.
I thoroughly enjoyed TO BE QUEEN and Christy English’s rendering of Eleanor of Aquitaine. She beautifully captured the feisty and passionate spirit of the young woman, while revealing her vulnerability and motives. I was particularly interested in English’s portrayal of Eleanor’s upbringing and schooling in the ways of court from her father. The relationship was as touching as it was pragmatic, and added much depth to the novel.
If you enjoy reading about fearless, passionate females in history, I recommend TO BE QUEEN. English is a skilled storyteller and I look forward to reading more from her.
For more on Christy English, please visit her website at http://www.christyenglish.com.