Eleanor of Aquitaine's story deserves to be legendary. She is an icon who has fascinated readers for over 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive - until now. Based on the most up-to-date research, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Chadwick brings Eleanor's magnificent story to life, as never before, unveiling the real Eleanor. Young, golden-haired and blue-eyed Eleanor has everything to look forward to as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies suddenly in the summer of 1137, her childhood is over.
Forced to marry the young prince Louis of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to being crowned King and Queen of France. Leaving everything behind, Eleanor must face the complex and vivacious French court. She is only 13.Barely out of childhood, and forced to deal with great scandals, fraught relationships and forbidden love at every turn, Eleanor finally sees what her future could hold if she could just seize the moment. Overflowing with scandal, politics, sex, triumphs and tragedies, The Summer Queen is the first novel in a stunning new trilogy.
©2013 Elizabeth Chadwick (P)2013 Hachette Audio
I found this title in the coming soon to Audible area of the web site. It sounded terrific when I researched the series. Plus there was the added perk of many glowing reviews on Audible UK. Overall it seemed like a perfect fit for me. I have read numerous books about Eleanor of Aquitaine and her life and this sounded like a wonderful series to look forward to.
The trouble started with a minor irritation in that the author and narrator decided to use the historic pronunciation of Eleanor's name. I soon got use to the odd pronunciation but in a way it sounded overly prissy and unnecessary. To me the narration came across as very young and childish. I suggest a careful listen to the sample before buying the book.
The focus points the author chose to examine and stress in the story moved this book squarely into the Romance Genre for me -- without question. For example--when the old King of France died-- two lines are spent on this in the story explaining he had died, the travel to Paris AND that a rebellion was squelched on the way. Then paragraphs and even chapters are spent describing intimate details of the wedding night and other encounters of this kind.
Further, I just finished watching the cable program The White Queen and so much of the court life depicted here in this book could be lifted from that story. The nastiness, the disapproving hateful mother-in-law and the daily traumas and manipulations. More than all of this I found the book slow. Very slow. I could have used more fact, more history and a great deal less conjecture and imaginings. Can not recommend-- unless you love a good romance.
I rarely review audiobooks, only when I love them or hate them. I didn't love this book, and I didn't hate this book. I just found it, well, embarrassing.
On the one hand, I couldn't stop listening. The subject matter and the writer's easy prose worked well together. So well, I even listened to the second book. That's the embarrassing part.
On the other, the author clearly cannot handle (or imagine) the intricate politics of the time. Eleanor (Alienor), thus becomes a kind of Victorian heroine--flat, romantic, slightly boring. Her only flaws seem to be loving and feeling too much, which results in extricating her love/emotions in order to protect herself. Eleanor rarely behaves badly, and she comes across as a relatively normal, intelligent, person stuck in a world gone insane. There is NO WAY Eleanor was anything like that...she wouldn't have survived one night with someone like Henry for one night, much less more than 80 years.
Anyway, the resulting characterization is made all the more flat by the reader, who has a lovely voice but manages to make even the battles seem like dreamy walks in the park.
One review of this book called it a romance, and I think that's right. It's a glossy, idealized take on a historical figure. And not a particularly good one.
But it is HIGHLY listenable, and got me interested in the time period. So there's that.
The storyline kept me wanting more, the narrator's voice was enough to siphon the characters. I was able to complete house chores and stay caught up with the story at the same time. Now to Winter Queen.
I downloaded this to listen to while I used the elliptical. I find it takes a really imaginative book to help me get through each workout. Some books are interesting enough, but it still takes too much effort to make it through an hour. This book allowed me to get completely lost in the 1100s, in the worlds of kings and queens. Before I knew it, whole chunks of time would pass by. Without question I will download her next book and take it to the gym with me.
OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!
The narrator sounds like a 12 year-old child - young and naive by current standards but of marriageable age during the era portrayed here. The story begins with The early life of Eleanor of Acquitane and the vocalization works for her.. However, the "Teen Queen" depictstion in the actual third- party accounts dust don't work,
I regret to say that I didn't get more than an hour into the book and eventually threw in the towel, the whole experience was more like listening to a fairy tale told by a neighborhood reader who has yet to learn the skill and nuances required by audiobooks.
I'm always open to give authors and narrators a second ride around the park. My criticism is not about Katie Scarfe's life repertoire - just that this a mismatched pairing.
I'm a great fan of Eleanor of Aquitaine, having read or listened to dozens. But this book did not have enough "oomph" to engage me more than an hour. Beyond that, I found myself "zoning out" during major passages.
This is yet another example to the problemd that I have with audiobook producers and directors- no quality control, questionable production and directorial shills. The audio format of books are terribly expensive so it is of paramount importance that the production, casting, recording, continuity and, of course, the performance be of the first quality and running on ALL cylinders! This book is a case-book example of an "opportunity wasted". I am wayyyy past buying books, only to find them substandard, then keeping them in my Library. There are those who will like this book - I, for one, am not one of these people! REFUND!
I am even more fascinated with Eleanor of Aquitaine than I was before. The author did a lovely job of making her feel real and human and the book seems to be well-researched. Can't wait to listen to the next one!
"Beautifully written & a joy to listen to."
I am a great fan of Elizabeth Chadwick's work and yet again she has produced another wonderful read, this book is beautifully written with perfect narration. I was sad to reach the
end of this book but know that it is not the end of Eleanor's story and so I await with eager anticipation for the next book in this trilogy where perhaps we will also see the appearance of the Greatest knight William Marshall !.
If you love Elizabeth's work then I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy this book, her research put together in a story such as this teaches us much about this period and gives us a sense of that time in history. Well done and thank you Elizabeth for sharing your talent with us, such a joy to listen to.
Ive tried twice to read about Elenor before and have given up. This summer I have been reading my way through all of Elizabeth Chadwicks novels. I love the way she weaves a story in to known facts. details of the small stuff such as the description of the jewels on clothing food and drink. The hazards of the traveling. All from a female point.
The whole book was a joy from first to last.
I have read and/or listened all of Elizabeth Chadwick's books and this was up there was all the others!
The reader took a bit of getting used to, not the best by a long shot. I do think that another reader could have given a better feel and personality. Knocked off one star.
The book is fantastic and really leaves you wanting more, the reader wasnt engaging enough for me to want to listen in one sitting.
"Medieval romance...based on true events!"
I am not generally a fan of medieval stories, but Chadwick’s novel had me hooked very early on, and I enjoyed it very much from start to finish. I felt I was given great insight into the life of the famous Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine and her struggle to be respected as both a woman and heiress. The story is beautifully narrated and the characters are made lively and believable.
I often became frustrated with how badly Eleanor was treated by a lot of the people around her, but she was a strong-willed woman and always seemed to survive her ordeals with grace. I couldn’t help but cheer her on! In short, this is a fascinating, romantic and beautiful story, which is made even better by the fact that it is based on real events. I can’t wait for the next two audio books in this trilogy...
A bit slow at first but excellent reading when the story became more involved definitely recommend. Looking forward to the next instalment.
Fantastic story, eminently likeable heroine, plenty of passion, some pain and frustration, but lavishly beautiful. The narrator's voice came across as a little girly, but enhanced the image of young and innocent Alienor.
"So real I felt the perilousness of the age"
Beautiful narration of a evocative and tumultuous period in history. Aleanor and any woman of the age needed resilience and fortitude. I pictured everything from the dress to the horses to emotion and felt involved by subtle weaving of details. Bodes well for The Winter Crown'. It showed that wealth and position were no guarantee of a long life, and the greatest enemy was likely to share your bed!
"Interesting, but average"
I read a lot of historical fiction, however I found this a little bland. It went on a few hours longer than necessary and I found myself losing concentration in many parts. Having said that, the story of Eleanor's early life was very interesting
"Historical Mills and Boon"
Not the interesting historical novel I was expecting. It feels like the historical story is a poor excuse for badly written bodice ripping.
It was too tedious and silly I couldn't get past chapter 20.
"Good story but more of a romance"
I enjoyed the book and the historical details but it ain't no Philippa Gregory. The author had obviously done a lot of research but there were more heaving bodices than I would have liked! However, it is one of a trilogy so I listen to the next book just to find out what happens.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.