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Book Review: Captive Queen, A Novel of Elizabeth of Aquitaine by Alison Weir

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When Eleanor meets Henry of Anjou, the young and sensual son of the Count of Anjou, to say he took her breath away, would be an understatement. She was entranced, and stirred physically, drawn by his powerful presence, muscular and solid, boldly handsome, with a glorious mane of red and arousing grey eyes. She knew she had to have him, yet she had also known his father, Count Geoffrey, who was here today to pay obeisance to the King, her husband Louis. Eleanor did not love Louis, he barely came to her, and when he did his loving was lackluster and a chore. She ached for love, real love and now looking at Henry, she knew she had found a man who would love her.

Alison Weir wastes no time captivating her audience as the story of her Captive Queen unfolds. Immediately, you are whisked to the fairy tale drama of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry of Anjou lusts for Eleanor and vows to have her permanently, for his wife, for his kingdom, and to control. She is also mesmerized with love and true passion with her future path so clear to her. She plots to convince Louis, King of France to grant her an annulment. Without knowing her true plans, Louis agrees and when the church accepts the plea, she dashes off to meet the young Henry of Anjou with spirit and audacity. And so, does she live happily ever after?

The fire that began between Henry and Eleanor becomes more a battle of wills and power as it drives Henry to fight for his kingdoms and pursue lusty liaisons. A wedge of mistrust is driven between the couple and, with a feeling of melancholy, you hope for reconciliation. Eleanor is imprisoned in a wretched hole when her decision to promote and protect her sons, over honoring her husband, causes Henry to become enraged. His anger is unmatched and it is unlikely that he will ever forgive her. Alison Weir shapes the characters of Eleanor and Henry with compassion, understanding, and objectivity: King Henry, the vengeful, lustful, and power-driven male; Queen Eleanor, the courageous, patient, loving, and naive woman. Both are looking for forgiveness and neither is without sin. Captive Queen is a ruminative read with romantic resplendence that should be savored.

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