I so appreciate getting this ARC from NetGalley. It was one of the most enthralling books I have read in a long time. Probably the finest one about Eleanor, my favorite historical personage of all time.
What is most amazing to me is how much research went into these last years of Eleanor's life and how little we have known about these events. I actually made bookmarks on my kindle to remind myself.
As we do know, Henry imprisons Alienor (as was her actual birth name) at Old Sarum after the failed rebellion by his sons which she supported. She was held there in Salisbury for years, but Elizabeth Chadwick has revealed that sometimes she was under house arrest at various other castles in England and even Normandy.
The enhanced role she had as Queen Dowager was quite amazing as were the things she did- and how she did them. The "hands on" way that Alienor, with Hamelin's help, amassed the exorbitant ransom was very intriguing as was the close relationship between Henry and Hamelin.
After Richard was ransomed and had his 2nd coronation we knew that he went on Crusade. What I did not know was why Emperor Heinrich hated him so and looked for him to capture. We knew about John 's escapades while Richard was imprisoned but the scene at the meeting after Christmas in 1192 in London with the regents was pretty riveting.
Also, if I knew about King John's son Richard begotten on his cousin, I had forgotten that even. I find the characters who were enfolded into Alienor's personal life made this such a fulfilling and poignant read. Richenza (later Matilda) and Joanna's relationship over the years with Alienor, as well as the time she was able to spend with her daughter Matilda of Saxony really rounded out the story of these years.
The cameo of her meeting with her daughter Eleanor ( Leonora) of Castile and those granddaughters was very fine, although they were obviously not as close. She rose to the occasions and accompanied Princess Blanca ( Blanche) over the Pyrenees in winter at 76.
My least favorite scene was her death, of course, but that was where her story ended. An amazing , engaging and gratifying novel to me, who adored Eleanor from the first book I ever read about her many years ago.
Recommended to all readers and I am so very much hoping to hear of another in the works. Her granddaughter Blanche perhaps would work or her mother Eleanor of Castile. Order your copy now it is out quite soon.