THE AUTUMN THRONE – Elizabeth Chadwick
A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine , Book Three
A Perfect 10
ISBN: 10 – 1402296843
ISBN: 13 – 978-1-402-29684-0
England During the Reign of Henry II and Thereafter
Alienor (the author uses the name used in Eleanor's lifetime), may be Queen of England and Duchess of Aquitaine and Normandy, but she is also a prisoner. Her husband, Henry II, sent Alienor to Sarum, far from the throne, after he discovered that she was siding with their sons in a rebellion. There isn't much for her to do except needlework, some reading, praying, and trying to keep warm in the spartan quarters. Occasionally a visitor will be allowed in, so Alienor is stunned one day when her eldest son, Henry, appears. He's to escort her to Winchester where the king wishes to discuss the future with her. But Henry's idea of the future is one without Alienor as his queen, offering to send her to the abbey of Amesbury to be the abbess. This, of course, means that their marriage would be annulled. Alienor vehemently refuses, but also makes sure her sons do not get involved. So, it's back to Sarum and loneliness and isolation.
Struggling with her emotions, the love of her children keeps Alienor from doing anything to anger Henry any more. She wants her lands of Aquitaine to go to her beloved second son, Richard, and she will not jeopardize that. While her sons want to help her, they are well aware that any move they make to aid her will be construed by their father as further rebellion against him. So Alienor bides her time, occasionally being included in family festivities at Winchester, but mostly sitting in isolation, unaware of what is going on in the world around unless someone accidentally lets news slip. William Marshall, young Henry's aid, is her eyes and ears, and she also trusts him to keep her eldest son safe. Richard goes to Aquitaine to establish his presence there, another brother, Geoffrey, is made Duke of Brittany through marriage, and the youngest son, John, the king's favorite, is growing into the disagreeable man he would become.
THE AUTUMN THRONE is the third of the novels of Eleanor. Meticulously researched, readers learn of the day to day trials that Alienor endures, yet her resolve and strength are never shattered. Henry does try, though, in various cruel and devious ways, but his wife's determination to survive in dignity surpasses his own strength of character.
Alienor of Aquitaine was a remarkable woman for any era, but her intelligence, grit, and ability to lead certainly surpassed most women in her day. Ms. Chadwick's beautifully written story should be begun with the first book in this series, THE SUMMER QUEEN, then to THE WINTER CROWN. Alienor was first married to the King of France who had their marriage annulled when she did not produce a son for him. While her marriage to Henry was especially difficult after their sons' rebellion, the two were a formidable pair early on in their marriage. Do not miss reading this amazing woman's story.