|Eleanor of Aquitance #2|
This is the second book of the Trilogy which started with The Summer Queen.
In the winter of 1154, Eleanor of Aquitaine is crowned Queen for the second time. Her marriage to Henry II is firmly established and she is already pregnant with their second child. It could be said that life is good for the Angevins. However, power comes at a price and whilst Eleanor keeps to her side of the marital bargain, Henry discovers that keeping control of his empire is fraught with danger, insecurities and interference from meddlesome priests. From the start of the marriage, Eleanor's duty to produce many children is done with remarkable regularity and regardless of her burning resentment towards Henry; you can never say that she shirked her marital duty. However, between the years 1154 to 1174, what started as a marriage built on lust and mutual ambition, inevitably over time becomes riddled with resentment and utter distaste.
What then follows is in depth look at the middle years in the life of Eleanor and Henry as they each seek to gain control. Henry,by using his children in a deadly game of thrones, finds himself in direct conflict, not just with his wife, but also with the church. The author very cleverly gives us both sides of the argument, and whilst it is difficult not to take sides, both had faults in abundance, it is interesting to see just how history judges both of these charismatic figures.
As always with this author, you get a fictional account which has its foot firmly placed in the history of the period. It feels realistic to the point where you can smell the candles and hear the crackle of logs and as the history comes alive in the imagination, you feel the power of unscrupulous men and rant against the powerlessness of its womenfolk.
The Winter Crown is a commendable continuation in the story of the turbulent relationship between a powerful couple who lived, loved and fought, often with each other, in unpredictable and dangerous times.
The third and final part of the trilogy, Autumn Throne, is due for publication in 2016.
Best selling author Elizabeth Chadwick has written over twenty historical novels sold in eighteen languages worldwide.