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The Book of Eleanor

A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

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One of history’s greatest women, celebrated by her contemporaries, descendants, and biographers, now comes to life in this mesmerizing new novel by bestselling author Pamela Kaufman.

In 1137, fifteen-year-old Eleanor became Duchess of Aquitaine, a wealthy and powerful province in the south of France. Rich and influential in her own right, her tumultuous marriages thrust Eleanor into the political and cultural spotlight, where she would remain for more than half a century.

Still in her teens, young Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII of France, a sickly religious fanatic so obsessed with fears of adultery that he kept his beautiful wife under lock and key, even forcing her to go on a long and dangerous crusade with him. But Eleanor was delighted by the freedom of the crusader’s life. Her handsome Aquitanian knights, her deeds on horseback, and her scandalous attire were the talk of Europe; it soon became clear that Louis’s young wife was more than he could handle. A lifelong rebel, Eleanor would defy her husband and the Church, and eventually strong-arm the Pope into annulling her unhappy marriage.

Once free of Louis, Eleanor thought to marry Baron Rancon, her childhood love, but found herself forced into another political marriage, this time with a younger and more dangerous husband—Henry II of England, a ruthless soldier known throughout Europe as “the red star of malice.” In Henry Eleanor found a man whose iron will and political cunning matched her own, but the marriage was a bitter and brutal one, which escalated into open warfare when Eleanor backed their sons in an armed rebellion against Henry. Vowing revenge, he imprisoned her for fifteen years, hoping she would die in obscurity. But Eleanor would not go quietly. In prison, she wrote her memoir; this is Eleanor’s book.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 07, 2002 – Medieval chronicler Kaufman (Shield of Three Lions; Banners of Gold) turns her attention to the eponymous Eleanor of Aquitaine in this earnest first-person account of life, power and passion in 12th-century Europe. The novel opens in 1174 with the kidnapping of 52-year-old Eleanor by the men of her second husband, Henry II. Wanting to keep Eleanor's sons from the throne, Henry sentences her to imprisonment in the drafty Welsh tower of Old Sarum for 17 years, where she uses her time to pen the autobiographical account forming the body of the book. When she was 15, the beautiful, spirited daughter of the duke of Aquitaine fell in love with her kinsman, Baron Rancon, but had to forsake him to marry the religiously obsessed and sexually repressed King Louis VII of France for political gain. After she was granted an annulment finally approved by the pope, Eleanor planned to wed Rancon, but she was kidnapped and forced into marriage once again by the ambitious, redheaded Henry II, duke of Normandy and soon-to-be king of England. Henry and Eleanor, both natural leaders, are an explosive pair, but Eleanor will not give up Rancon, defying Henry until the end. Kaufman peppers her narrative with snatches from troubadour songs and interjections like "God's eyes!" but the tale lacks atmospheric richness. However, her presentation of one of history's larger-than-life heroines as an early feminist will engage and entertain readers with an interest in the life stories of powerful women.
The Book of Eleanor
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Mar 12, 2002
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 560 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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