The Captive Queen by Alison Weir
It is the year 1152, and a beautiful woman rides through France, fleeing her crown, her two young daughters and a shattered marriage.
Her husband, Louis of France has been more monk than monarch, and certainly not a lover. Now Eleanor of Aquitaine has one sole purpose: to return to her duchy and marry the man she loves, Henry Plantagenet, destined for greatness as King of England. It will be a union founded on lust, renowned as one of the most vicious marriages in history, and it will go on to forge a great empire and a devilish brood.
This is a story of the making of nations, and of passionate conflicts: between Henry II and Thomas Becket; between Eleanor and Henry’s formidable mother Matilda; between father and sons, as Henry’s children take up arms against him – and finally between Henry and Eleanor herself. (Goodreads)
Eleanor of Aquitaine was first married to King Louis of France, but he was more interested spending his time in prayers than with his wife. She’s not happy and extremely bored and when it’s suggested that Louis finds a new wife to get much needed male heir she’s not resisting.
Then she meets young Henry FitzEmpress and it’s insta-lust from the start. After Eleanor gets her divorce from Louis she and Henry marries without permission.
I’m still wondering why I ever started this book and how I managed to finish it. I haven’t been huge fan of her fiction books but this sure was something.
The sex scenes weren’t so bad than I thought and not as graphic but I don’t need sex scenes from the start. At page 2 she’s remembering her hot night with her future husband’s father and it’s downhill from there. But then she sees Henry for the first time and forgets Geoffrey just like that and after just few hours after their first meeting Eleanor and Henry are having sex. She’s supposed to have had an affair with this troubadour guy too, and of course with her uncle. Because if there’s some ugly rumour ever spoken of Eleanor you can trust to find it in here. As I said the sex wasn’t that graphic but it also wasn’t good and got very repetitive very soon. And I’m wondering how she managed to do all this without her servants knowing?
At page 22 we get this wonderful peace of information
Henry was surprised to find his father’s muscles iron-hard – not bad for an old man of thirty-eight, he thought. He had glimpsed too Geoffrey’s impressive manhood, and wondered seriously for the first time if his father had indeed been speaking the truth about knowing Eleanor carnally, and if he had, whether he had satisfied her as well as he, Henry, had done.
Like any normal father-son day, right?
Somehow Weir manages to turn this strong and intelligent woman into weak, childish, sex-addicted woman. And her portrayal of Henry isn’t that better. Where is this powerful man who’s spectacular rages made men fear? Instead we get someone who spends most of his time drinking, swiving random women at closets and other random places and stamping his foot when everything won’t go as he planned. There’s some fighting between Eleanor and Henry but unfortunately it sounds like a 3 year old is having a tantrum.
And if this all wasn’t enough she had to make Beckett to be in love with Henry. Like seriously?
I wasn’t fan of the writing itself which was the biggest reason why I hated this. But towards the end something happens and the writing get better and the characters started coming to life. We actually get one moving scene between Eleanor and Henry regarding Rosamund.
Speaking of writing, at some point after she has given birth she’s thinking about how queen’s can’t raise their kids and breastfeed them by themselves and then few pages after she puts the baby to her breast. Ouch!
I think this is time to stop reading her fiction books and not even try her next book!
Published: Arrow (2011)
Source: my own