Bat's Reviews > Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Captive Queen by Alison Weir
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Jun 07, 11

Read in June, 2011

Let me start by saying this is not a book for everyone.

Being familiar with Ms Weir's previous novels, both the historical and the historical fiction, "Captive Queen" takes on the subject of a woman who lived a very interesting life. Trying to condense everything that happened to Eleanor of Aquitaine and keep it interesting was a very large task.

This is a fictional account, using what knowledge there is from surviving reports of the actual period of Eleanor's life, but that still leaves gaps. The author even says so at the end of the book. Instead of being sensationalist and basing things on conjecture and rumors (much like the "historical" novels by Philippa Gregory) Ms Weir does her best to fill the gaps with events/emotions/ideals that fit and keep well within what *might* have happened.

I came to this book knowing virtually nothing about Eleanor of Aquitaine or Henry II. In some ways that made this novel very riveting for me. At other times the pace crawled so slowly that even though I wanted to know what was going to happen I ended up having to put it down and walk away for a while before continuing. There was a lot to cover in terms of subject matter, when you're trying to account for the 37 years of marriage and all that went on during them.

Yes, there's a lot of sexual scenes in this book. At first it was rather overwhelming but that was what truly bound Eleanor and Henry from the first: their lust for one another. The sex scenes were pretty tame (especially compared to Philippa Gregory's books) and their inclusion was important to truly understand their union.

As I said, this book is not for everyone. I would suggest either of Ms Weir's other two historical fiction novels, "Innocent Traitor" or "Lady Elizabeth", to start with to see if you enjoy Ms Weir's take on historical persons. "Captive Queen" could very much overwhelm you, especially if you're not remotely familiar with the subject matter/historical period and its sheer size (nearly 500 pages in paperback) can at times feel like it will never end.

I enjoyed the book. Eleanor of Aquitaine was certainly one of those rare women in history that held her own in a world of men. Even when she was subjected to imprisonment by her own husband, it did not kill her spirit. Her story, along with the story of Henry II and their children, made me more interested in reading other books about the long line of English kings. I'm most familiar with the Tudors but have increasingly begun to branch out to those that came before them.

If I had to chose between Ms Weir and Philippa Gregory, I would easily go with Ms Weir, as she seems to be more intuitive when it comes to historical fiction and doesn't rely on unfounded claptrap and sensationalism.
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message 1: by Brittany B. (new) - added it

Brittany B. Nice review. I have read 3 of Alison Weir's Historical fiction before this (Innocent Traitor, The Lady Elizabeth , A Dangerous Inheritance). I loved The Lady Elizabeth most. I get annoyed trying to read Philippa Gregory's Virgin's Lover now that I've read Alison Weir's novels. I love her nonfiction too, though it is dry.

I ended up DNFing this book. I think this is her weakest fiction.


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