Series: Eleanor of Aquitaine #1
Publication Date: 20th June 2013
Time/Pages: 18hr 18mins/478 pages
Book Source: own audio
Narrated by: Katie Scarfe
Synopsis: Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.
This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13.
Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor's legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .
I never tire of reading of Eleanor of Aquitaine's life, she's such a resilient, intelligent, determined, influential woman in medieval history. The Summer Queen is the first in a planned trilogy dedicated to the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Elizabeth Chadwick tells her story with extensive research, integrity and yes, imagination, whilst deftly remaining within the realms of historical likelihood. I particularly liked that EC refers to the anglicised Eleanor as Aliénor, as she referred to herself.
Confession ... I've purchased all of Elizabeth Chadwick's novels and regularly congratulate myself on my good taste and of course how pretty they look on the bookshelf HA. Anyway I thought I should read a few more rather than just admire the covers (in my defense I have read 6 or 7) so, I ... *mumble* purchased the audiobook. What a treat ... The Summer Queen is brilliantly narrated by Katie Scarfe ... 18+ hours flew.
Spanning Aliénor's life from 1137 - 1154 - Duchess of Aquitaine, marriage to Louis VII, the weak and pious future King of France and concluding with her second marriage to Henry II of England. The Summer Queen is so much more than a recounting of well known historical events ... Chadwick draws you in with finesse making Aliénor entirely accessible, I loved being immersed in her life.
I loved Chadwick's take on Geoffrey de Rancon's significance to Aliénor and I even enjoyed learning more about Aliénor's spoilt and unlikable sister Petronella.
Evocative, expressive, exquisite detail rather than tedious minutiae, The Summer Queen encompasses all that I love in historical fiction, I can't recommend it highly enough.
I seriously didn't want the story to end, lucky for me there's more to come and I'm super excited. The Winter Crown, due for release September 2014 continues the story of Eleanor's marriage with King Henry II and her life as Queen of England. The Autumn Throne concludes the trilogy.