To Be Queen by Christy English

Title:  To Be Queen – A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Author:  Christy English

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Published:  April 2011, NAL Trade

About:  (from Goodreads synopsis) After her father’s sudden death, fifteen-year-old Eleanor is quickly crowned Duchess of Aquitaine and betrothed to King Louis VII. When her new husband cannot pronounce her given name, Alienor becomes Eleanor, Queen of France.

Although Louis is enamored of his bride, the newly crowned king is easily manipulated by the church and a God that Eleanor doesn’t believe in. Now, if she can find the strength to fight for what she wants, Eleanor may finally find the passion she has longed for, and the means to fulfill her legacy as Queen.

My take:  When I was a kid I remember being blown away by Katharine Hepburn’s portrayal of Eleanor in The Lion in Winter. So when I was offered a copy of To Be Queen I jumped at the chance to read about the young Eleanor of Aquitaine. I’m so glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

To Be Queen is the story of Eleanor’s quest to be Queen of France and by doing so protecting herself and her people. It would also  fulfill her promise to her father. Eleanor is a strong and logical woman – which makes the men of the Church dislike her very much. Her husband King Louis is her opposite. He was raised by priests and trusts whatever they tell him. That being so, he does love Eleanor and tries to be a good husband despite being a weak man.

Eleanor soon realizes that she can only trust herself and a few select people. That’s how she lives the next several years with Louis. Although she tries to be a good wife and Queen, it’s a life that disappoints Eleanor. She’s such a strong and vital woman but is now relegated to trying to produce a male heir and not much else. When that doesn’t happen she realizes she has to take matters into her own hands. She will be responsible for her future.

Christy English wrote a wonderful novel. I enjoyed learning about the first part of Eleanor’s life and I’ll definitely seek out more of Ms. English’s books to read in the future. She kept me turning the pages into the wee hours. I recommend To Be Queen to fans of historical fiction.

Source:  From the author.