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This is the second book in a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Alienor in French, her native language. The first book, The Summer Queen, was an excellent read so I didn't hesitate when this one came up for review. I haven't been disappointed. If you like Historical Fiction at all, I highly recommend this series!
The Winter Crown begins with Alienor's crowning as Queen of England, two years after her marriage to Henry, who became King Henry II of England in 1154. This occurred just eight weeks after her marriage to Louis of France was annulled. So Eleanor had been Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right and became Queen of both France and England successively.
She was a strong willed woman and tended towards a spirit of rebellion against the limitations put onto the power of a woman in that time period. Eleanor faced both triumphs and tragedies in her marriages and through her children and had more political influence than women of her time could ordinarily manage.
Elizabeth Chadwick writes her characters well. Every character is well defined and we can feel both courage and cowardice in secondary characters as well as sorrow, joy, and the whole spectrum of emotions that touch the people around Eleanor, not to mention Eleanor herself. Her fears, determination, strength and sorrows are all depicted expertly and take the reader through one of the most interesting lives in history.
A lot of research went into the historical accuracy of the story as well, which is explained at the end where the author clarifies what is known historically and where fiction filled in the gaps. Apart from a couple of small anomalies, i.e. one sentence with a comma splice to a half sentence, the book is well edited and reads very smoothly. Elizabeth Chadwick is quickly becoming a favorite historical fiction author for me.