A fascinating account of one of the most alluring figures of the Middle Ages by one of Britain's most respected historians.
Alison Weir lives and works in Surrey. Her books include Britain's Royal Families, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII- King and Court, Mary, Queen of Scots and, most recently, Isabella.
As delicately textured as a 12th-century tapestry, royal biographer Weir's (The Life of Elizabeth I, etc.) newest book is exhilarating in its color, ambition and human warmth. The author exhibits a breathtaking grasp of the physical and cultural context of Queen Eleanor's life, presenting a fuller, more holistic appreciation of a dazzling world whose charms can easily be anesthetized by dull narrative. And from the start, her auburn-haired subject, a live wire in a restrictive society, muse of poets and crusaders, seduces the reader. Weir conveys a deep empathy for the relaxed south of France where Eleanor was raised, a natural home for the gospel of courtly love. She paints a Brueghelesque picture of England, where wolves roamed the forests and people made skates in winter out of animal bones. In approaching as complex a subject as feudalism, Weir wears her learning lightly and has a pleasant habit of anticipating all the questions of a curious reader. Her account parades a sequence of extraordinary characters: the saintly abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, who as an adolescent leapt into a freezing pond until his erection subsided; Eleanor's first husband, Louis VII of France, haunted by the screams of burning victims after his assault on a village in Champagne; her lover, Raymond of Poitiers, who could bend an iron bar with his bare hands; and her second husband, Henry II of England, her princely mirror in energy, intelligence and sexuality. Above all, there is the heroine, viewed clear-sightedly in all her intoxicating and imperious irresistibility. Illus. not seen by PW. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"'Her biography reads like a medieval romance, a marvellous
intermingling of fact with legend...fascinating...splendid.'" *
Literary Review *
"'Sensible and eminently readable.'" * Times Literary Supplement *
"'When you finish the book you feel you have been put painlessly (but not necessarily without tears) in possession of the facts of this extraordinary, indefatigable woman, her sufferings and triumphs.'" * Bevis Hillier, Books of the Year, Spectator *
The noted British biographer has done Elizabeth I, so why not Eleanor, that tough-talking dame who dumped the king of France for England's Henry II? Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.