Queen Defiant by Anne O’Brien

I enjoy reading biographies and novels about the lives of women, and this is a fascinating novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most famous women of the Middle Ages.  The story begins as fifteen year old Eleanor is waiting to meet her fiancé, the prince of France. Eleanor is duchess of a large area which makes up much of present-day southern France.  Many an ambitious man would like to marry her, especially since she is beautiful as well as powerful.  Eleanor’s dying father asked the king of France to protect her and find her a suitable husband, and the monarch is sending his own son, seventeen-year-old Louis, to marry Eleanor.  Louis is handsome and only seventeen years old, and she has high hopes for the years ahead.

Soon Louis becomes king, but Eleanor learns that he prays with the monks night and day, spending little time with her and showing little interest in his duties as monarch.  Life in the dark, dank French palace is confining and dull, and Eleanor misses the luxury of Aquitaine.  To make things worse, she is unable to present the nation with a male heir.

Eventually, Louis decides to start a crusade to the Holy Land, and, although Eleanor proudly sets out at his side, crusading proves not to be the thrilling adventure she expects.

The story ends during Eleanor’s second marriage.  In Henry Plantagenet, a strong-willed, impetuous man who will later become King of England, Eleanor meets her match.

This tale of Eleanor’s little-known early life brings the reader into a time and place very different from the world of today, allowing us to see that world through the eyes of its memorable characters.

(Helen Snow, Information Services)

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One Response

  1. I was always fascinated by Eleanor of Aquitaine. Thanks for the great review of Anne O’Brien’s Queen Defiant.

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