I read this on 19 March. It was a lighter read.
Most talks on historical monarchs tend to be heavy on the aspect that the (wo)man was a queen/king. I find that lovely when reading academic, or deep philosophical works.
This, as stated, was light: it was refreshing to imagine Queen Eleanor as a woman who just wanted love. King Louis, by no surprise, was worthy of an annulment. She never was unfaithful in the novel — or I missed if she was — which I find amazing. She is still a woman of her time, and takes her honour seriously. She just married a bad match.
The magickal side was intriguing. I am drawn to folk goddesses — quickly speaking: folk goddesses tend to be goddesses who regulated to subsidiary statuses to usurp their divinity in exchange for a more Abrahamically palatable idea that a woman could have power –, especially Abundia. This Dark Lady, in the novel, has that counter aspect. I want to research if there be any basis of this appearance, or if it be merely inspired by folk religion.
King Henry II was beautifully written as a philandering lover. I abhor infidelity, and ‘side-chick’/’side-boy’ culture. King Henry II is portrayed palatable though. He is anxious for sex, but respects her individuality. This would explain why she risked everything for love: he was worth it.
I am saddened that it ends earlier in her life. She lived to be in her 80s…in the 13th century. She was an amazing goddess of a queen. I want to visit her sarcophagus in France. Her remains were destroyed in the French Revolution: one of the many issues which I have with that rebellion. The author had so much life to expand that I feel slightly cheated; however, I understand that her life as Queen of England would easily be another four novels worth.
I would give it 6/10 (or 3/5) for literary quality, but I would bump it up to 7.5 if one is purely looking for fun reading.
Also, braid one’s hair: it may save one’s life.