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Publisher's Summary

Eleanor of Aquitaine.

A loving mother. A betrayed wife. A queen beyond compare.

Eleanor of Aquitaine's story is 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, best-selling novelist Elizabeth Chadwick brings Eleanor's magnificent story to life, as never before.

Young, vibrant, privileged, Eleanor's future is golden as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies suddenly in the summer of 1137, her childhood ends abruptly. Forced to marry the young prince Louis of France, Eleanor is still struggling to adjust to her new role when Louis' father dies and they become King and Queen of France. Leaving everything behind, the vivacious Eleanor must face the complex and faction-riddled French court. She is only 13.

Overflowing with scandal, politics, sex, triumphs and tragedies, The Summer Queen is the first novel in a stunning trilogy from award-winning and much-loved author Elizabeth Chadwick

©2013 Elizabeth Chadwick (P)2013 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"An author who makes history come gloriously alive." (The Times)

"Meticulous research and strong storytelling." (Woman & Home)

"A sumptuous ride." (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slightly Embarrassing

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.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The Romance Runs Strong in This One

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.






43 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 12-10-16

Heavy on the Fiction, Light on the History.

I have two major complaints on this book:

1. The parts of history that are so rich and could be mined for so much documented history are skimmed past with barely any attention. One of the reasons I love historical fiction is for the history I can learn, but this book offered no education.

2. Eleanor of Aquitaine had to be one of the strongest women to have lived. And, yet, in this book she is weak, whiny and seems to only care about romance and sex. It is far too much a "bodice ripper" romance book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a woman!

This is the 1st installment in the trilogy on Eleanor of Aquitaine's life. Ms. Chadwick is a great storyteller and picked a fantastic subject in Eleanor. I've thoroughly enjoyed both books that are currently out, and am looking forward to the third. If you are a lover of Philippa Gregory's books, you'll find Elizabeth Chadwick is just as good, if not better. Katie Scarfe does a good job on the women's voices, but a bit harsh and monotone on the men's voices. It doesn't take away from the story itself, but I can't give 5 stars to the performance.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great escape if you like queens and kings

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

More novel than fact

I enjoyed the story but there was a little too much emphasis on sex and bodily functions for my taste.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Intro to Chadwick

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

interesting listen

Its a fun story. A peak into what it would have been like, but having no clue if any of it happened that way. fun to think about.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

WRONG NARRATOR - GREAT SUBJECTS MATTER WASTED!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

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,

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

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.

Would you be willing to try another one of Katie Scarfe’s performances?

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.

Was The Summer Queen worth the listening time?

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.

Any additional comments?

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!

13 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Most enjoyable

My only quibble with recording is the lack of space between scene and character changes. That makes it challenging to know there's been a shift. Otherwise, Katie does an excellent narration and the story is captivating. Looking forward to the Winter Queen next.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane
  • 07-26-13

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • elizabeth
  • 10-09-13

Wonderful

Where does The Summer Queen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Number 1

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The whole book was a joy from first to last.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Adele
  • 06-30-13

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...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Samantha
  • 07-08-13

Fantastic book!

Where does The Summer Queen rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have read and/or listened all of Elizabeth Chadwick's books and this was up there was all the others!

Have you listened to any of Katie Scarfe’s other performances? How does this one compare?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The book is fantastic and really leaves you wanting more, the reader wasnt engaging enough for me to want to listen in one sitting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-15-15

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michelle
  • 01-29-15

Excellent read

A bit slow at first but excellent reading when the story became more involved definitely recommend. Looking forward to the next instalment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TheFluffyViking
  • 01-21-15

Intriguing!

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr G A Wicks
  • 01-17-15

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Emma
  • 08-30-15

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Teemee
  • 06-20-15

Good story but more of a romance

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan Dunn
  • 05-13-17

Exceptional

Loved it. Beautifully written and excellent audio reading. I look forward to the next two in the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bronte
  • 06-24-15

A believable Eleanor

History made story. I enjoyed this book and having read non-fiction about Eleanor this was close to fact. The narrator captured the youth of the Duchess and carried the male voices well too. Thank you.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Donna
  • 04-28-17

A little disappointing

Interesting tale. I enjoyed the story but was disappointed with the narration. The reader was so slow I found her an excellent sleeping pill. Her interpretation of the characters was unconvincing and lacked depth as she waffled on. I will explore more from this author as I liked her style of writing but with a different narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tee
  • 04-20-17

Get thrown back in time

Amazing story, fantastic narrator! As always a pleasure to be immersed in a world far different to what we have today. Loved it!!!! Second book already purchased :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • brittany
  • 11-21-16

Royal Porn.

I went into this book with high hopes. I love these kinds of stories and I have been looking for a new royal obsession. I love Gregory, even though her books can seem like smut. I feel like the sex and drama has a place.

This is not the case with this book. This book is basically some woman's sexual fantasy. Sex punctuates every single moment of importance almost as if women and men would continually have sex if it wasn't for the fact that our lives are busier now.

I have no idea about the characters beyond their sexual endeavours. It is actually very strange.

It's sad that the story of such a great Queen is reduced to some sexual fantasy, almost as if the crux and aim of feminism is free love. Not that any of this is free. Even the sex is dictated by men as well as their political and financial standing.

The performance was great. The story is so disappointing.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • P
  • 07-15-18

History Alive

Well researched and written book. Characters believable and tension maintained from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading The Winter Queen.