Review: The Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick


Ever since her marriage to Louis VII of France was annulled, Eleanor has more than fulfilled her duty as Queen of England—she has given her husband, Henry II, heirs to the throne and has proven herself as a mother and ruler. But Eleanor needs more than to be a bearer of children and a deputy; she needs command of the throne.

As her children grow older, and her relationship with Henry suffers from scandal and infidelity, Eleanor realizes she must take the crown for herself if she ever wants to become the powerful woman she’s destined to be. But even a queen must face the consequences of treason…

Chadwick’s meticulous research portrays the Middle Ages and Eleanor with depth and vivid imagery unparalleled in historical fiction and captures readers in a web of intrigue they won’t want to escape.

In the second book in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, a royal marriage where love and hatred are intertwined and a battle for power fraught with deception create a riveting story of medieval fiction sure to mesmerize.

My Review

I suspect, like many readers of this book, I had “The Lion in Winter” on the brain. And indeed, in my mind, Katherine Hepburn slid effortlessly into the part. Happily, Chadwick’s Alienor did one better; she helped explain just went wrong between these two famous monarchs. We want to think theirs was the love affair of the century, but the reality was so much more painful. Although it initially seemed like this was a marriage between equals, Alienor was soon to learn that she was merely a pawn in Henry’s game:

“Then what does it mean?” she demanded. “Toulouse remains untaken, and there will not be another campaign for a while, will there, because all the money and impetus is gone.”

“I thought you more sensible than to sulk and vilify me for it. Was I wrong?

Alienor wanted to rage at him. She felt let down and betrayed, but ranting would only further his claim that she was a woman in the grip of hysteria. “What would be the point?” she said wearily. “Louis tried to take Toulouse and failed when I was wed to him. Now he defends it and denies us both. I am not content, but I must accept it.” She gave him a challenging stare. “When we married, we both took a gamble. I want to think that it was a winning throw of the dice. Don’t let me be wrong, Henry…”

Fortunately for them, their physical attraction carried them through the first several tempestuous years of their marriage. But Alienor began to feel like a brood-mare, forced to stay in the background while Henry did all the ruling. Unfortunately, his ruling involved making decisions that did not take her into consideration. And when she objected, he firmly put her in her place; after all, he was the king and she had to obey. Needless to say, this chafed at her prerogative, especially as Duchess of Aquitaine. Once Henry crossed the line, things went from bad to worse. After all, loyalty only went so far…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *