I am so angry that I had not discovered Elizabeth Chadwick until now! Historical Fiction is my favorite genre but my collection was sorely lacking in the French history department. I went to the good old Google and looked for the best historical fiction books about the French Court and I came across The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick. This book is the first in a trilogy all about Eleanor (Alienor) of Aquitaine. I’ll go ahead and say that I love this book and Elizabeth Chadwick is now one of my favorite writers. I look forward to reading all of her books, of which there are many. I’ll give you the synopsis and then my thoughts. This review will probably have spoilers but it’s based on actual history so I’m not sure if they would be considered “real” spoilers.
At the age of thirteen, Eleanor of Aquitaine is forced to leave everything behind, marry a man she doesn’t love, and take the throne to reign as Queen of France. Eleanor’s new life is full of risk―and unlimited opportunity. Barely out of childhood and faced with great scandals, fraught relationships, and forbidden love at every turn, Eleanor must use all her cunning to secure her future as one of the most powerful women in the world.
Throughout the book Eleanor is spelled like Alienor because that is the most historically accurate so that’s what I’ll call her in my review. The story begins in the year 1137. The fact that it takes place that long ago in the French court makes the story even more interesting to me. I loved learning about Alienor because I had never heard of her. She was a real Queen of France and then England. She was a woman truly ahead of her time. You can tell that Elizabeth Chadwick put in immense amounts of research into creating this story and that’s my favorite kind of historically based book. All of the characters in this were likable to me in some way, even the troubled King of France, Louis. I absolutely loved Alienor’s younger sister, Petronella. She’s so vibrant and spunky. All of the characters are written in a way that you become attached to them and actually feel for them. If a book can make me feel something then it’s a winner.
I’m currently reading the second book in the series, The Winter Crown, and I plan to have that review up in about two weeks. This book is fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a historical fiction lover like myself. Have you read this book or any others by Elizabeth Chadwick? Who’s your favorite historical fiction writer? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!