The Summer Queen (Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1) – Elizabeth Chadwick

In Reviews by Nya4 Comments


The Summer Queen (Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1) - Elizabeth ChadwickEleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor’s legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book.

I liked the way Eleanor (Alienor, as according to the author, it’s as her name appears in the Anglo-Norman texts) is portrayed and how the story, even if a bit too factual at times, was interesting to read. Bonus points for the steamy scenes (right quantity and right amount of detail: not too little, not too much) and for including that bit of speculation on her vassal (not going to include spoilers here).

Considering we know already how the ‘story’ ends as this is well-known history, then what makes the most interesting element to explore in historical fiction, in my opinion, is each character’s thoughts, reactions and feelings along with the speculative gaps. While the author did a good job, I have the certain reservations:
– The ‘Akashic records’ as she mentions in her author’s note, I am not too sure what to think of this;
– The constant focus on specific emotions to describe a character’s tone or reaction such as ‘anger’ or ‘happiness’. Basically didn’t follow the “show, don’t tell” principle, which is a shame, considering the character’s development and general descriptions were very good.

Apart from that, I thought there was a good use of the third person omniscient POV – I am impressed myself because I am usually not a fan of this type of narration, but I thought the story flowed quite well, considering we had access to many different character’s thoughts and emotions within the same chapter.

The next book in this series has been offered to me via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and I am certainly looking forward to reading it.

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  1. dstin2014

    I guess when you’re going with omniscient POV that might include feelings, or just the natural tendency to include everything when you see everything.

    1. dstin2014

      But I really don’t know anything. There’s no way to delete. If it’s better to show don’t tell, then it’s better, sorry

    2. Author

      Hi thanks for passing by! I don’t see it as better or worse but more as a differentiation between shallow and deep PoV. This is perhaps a neverending debatedebate, there is no right or wrong. Many books in the past have used an overall omniscient narrator and they were great books. Nowadays however readers have developed different expectations and tastes (in my opinion). Even from a character’s PoV there is no need to be too matter of factly about feelings. Just like in real life, you don’t always need to say you are angry or sad to people understand you feel specific things. But There’s a thin line and a complex balance that I think it’s difficult to be achieved. Thanks again for sharing your insight.

      1. dstin2014

        Hi, thanks for response. Yes, I should consider what I like, heh heh. I like it more visual and expository. Let me see how he/she feels. “Anger” is generic. Make me see it.

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