Ailenor (Eleanor) is already married to Henry at the beginning of the novel and whilst she is very fond of him she finds his lack of respect to her ideas galling. She is constantly reminding him that she is more than his brood mare to which he basically says yes dear. In that respect Ailenor feels very modern, she is very clever and there is a real sense that she knows her worth.
Henry presented as every inch the King with all the negatives that implies. He can be a loving husband one moment and a petulant narcissist the next. He rebounds from cruel and thoughtless to solicitous but always angling to get his way and to grow his own power.
This novel is the story of their marriage where at the beginning they are a fairly tight ruling unit in this telling the introduction of Thomas Beckett is where things start to unravel for them. At the centre of this novel is the relationship between a Queen and her King and I thoroughly enjoyed the examination of Ailenor’s life and Chadwick’s interpretations of historical events.
One reservation is the depth of some characters, some characters felt like a thumbnail sketch without much depth. The point of view most kept closely to Ailenor but occasionally it wandered to Henry which happened so infrequently it felt odd when it did.
Historical novels like this one are outside my usual genre picks but The Winter Crown felt enticing to me as a reader. Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of history’s enigmatic characters and I felt that Chadwick had thoroughly researched and managed to bring Eleanor of Aquitaine to life.
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