The Book of Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

ISBN: 0609808095
ISBN 13: 9780609808092
By: Pamela Kaufman

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About this book

One of history’s greatest women, celebrated by her contemporaries, descendants, and biographers, comes to life in this mesmerizing novel by bestselling author Pamela Kaufman.In 1137, fifteen-year-old Eleanor became Duchess of Aquitaine, a wealthy and powerful province in the South of France. Rich and influential in her own right, her tumultuous marriages thrust Eleanor into the political and cultural spotlight, where she would remain for more than half a century. Still in her teens, Eleanor married Louis VII of France, a sickly religious fanatic so obsessed with adultery that he kept his beautiful wife under lock and key. A lifelong rebel, Eleanor would defy her husband and the Church and eventually strong-arm the Pope into annulling her unhappy marriage.Once free, she thought to marry Baron Rancon, her childhood love, but found herself forced into another political marriage with Henry II of England, a ruthless soldier known as “the red star of malice.” In Henry, Eleanor found a man whose iron will and political cunning matched her own, but the marriage was a bitter and brutal one, which escalated into open warfare when Eleanor backed their sons in an armed rebellion against Henry. Vowing revenge, he imprisoned her for seventeen years, hoping she would die in obscurity. But Eleanor would not go quietly. In prison, she wrote her memoir. This is her story.

Reader's Thoughts


** spoiler alert ** Don't waste your time on this book. It was crass and lewd. Kaufman said she spent 15 years writing and researching this book. That makes it all the more disappointing. She fictionalized almost every aspect of this story. Even some of the main facts. ie: Richard of Antioch was not killed by Louis. Also, Henry and Eleanor were married 8 weeks after her annulment to Louis. My recommendation: Read the Wikipedia article Eleanor of Aquitaine

Elizabeth Jones

A great historical Fiction about Eleanor of Aquitaine during the eleven hundreds. Pamela kaufman did a great job of weaving a story of intrigue, danger all around a woman of strength and courage.


I have very mixed feelings about this book. There were parts I absolutely loved, and parts where I cringed at the corniness of the writing. It definitely felt like I was reading a second rate Philippa Gregory, I loved learning about Eleanor and a period of royal history I didn't know much about, but Kaufman's style is not as fluid as I would've liked. I was also disappointed to read at the end how much the historical details were twisted to suit the story, obviously I expect historical fiction to be fiction but the distortion of the truth went a little too far. Overall it was an enjoyable read, but not brilliant.


I was impressed by the scope of Kaufman’s research for this book. It was really interesting to learn about Eleanor. I had heard of her but didn't know much about her. Engaging book that was very well researched. It got a little slow in parts but that was Eleanor's life.


This one was hard to rate. I'd give 4 stars for readability--it was hard to put down, richly detailed, riveting...the author spent 15 years researching the subject, and the attention to detail with all of the various political aspects was dizzying. However, my insult at some of the changes she made would knock this down to a two--I have decided that I need to read an actual biography now to sort out fact from fiction. Points also deducted for the drippy romance overlaid on the already fascinating story. Wasn't she interesting enough? Sure, I understand needing something to move along the plot: it is a novel, and I get that. But it was really pretty purple at times. Plus there were a few details that I thought were stupid--was I really supposed to believe that after seven children and at age 45, her stomach was firm and flat and her face unlined? Yeah sure.But! The fact remains that I couldn't put it down, annoyed or not, and it has also inspired me to learn more about female royalty. So it gets three stars.


Before I read this book I did not know anything abourt Eleanor or Aquitaine. As her personal drama unfolds the reader realizes that strong, and daring women like Eleanor provide meaninful lessons long after they are gone.

Alex Telander

I don’t think I demand too much when I read a book, but as an avid reader of historical fiction, my one request is that this fictitious history be at least as accurate as the current evidence allows. Therefore it dumbfounds me to discover that The Book of Eleanor is currently climbing the bestseller lists in Los Angeles. Whilst the book is set in the right century (the twelfth) and the main character soon starts relaying to the reader about the Black Plague that has been taking many lives throughout England, there is one glaring inaccuracy here: the Black Plague did not take place for another two hundred years, in 1347.While plague was quite a common occurrence throughout the Middle Ages, and there was what is known as the Justinian Plague during the sixth to eighth centuries where half the population of Europe was wiped out, the Black Death would nevertheless take place until the fourteenth century. As a matter of fact, it was never actually referred to as the Black Death by its contemporaries, but this was a name for the bubonic plague later on. This crucial failing at history fact sets the tone for the rest of the novel; so if you can get by with being lied to about history, you might just enjoy the book.Originally published in July/August 2002.For over 500 book reviews, and over 40 exclusive author interviews (both audio and written), visit BookBanter.

Gretchenmora Mora

The beginning really put me off. Didn't follow the opening too well but gave it a chance and really began to enjoy it after that. Very much embellished as to what *actually* might have happened. There were no footnotes, so I think a lot of it was conjecture, but made for a great love story. Nonetheless you get a great inside look as to all the crap she went through and places she visited at a very early time in "civilized" European history.

Lisa Lap

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even as it veered from historical fact in order to spice up the storyline. There were some details that I felt were altered unnecessarily such as the references to the plague, but overall I enjoyed the intelligence and strength that Eleanor carried. I enjoyed the love storyline even as it most possibly didn't exist for the real Eleanor. What can I say? I'm a sap for romance and given how women were treated as little more than cattle in that time period, I enjoy the possibility of Eleanor carefully securing the future for her children, while also enjoying a clandestine affair for years. If the men can carry on with the many mistresses then I find it hard to fault the idea of a woman wishing for the same. Enjoyable.Until next time,~Lisa


I really enjoyed this picture of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Forced into 2 very different marriages, she held out hope for the love she had found with Rancon. Louis' ideas about marriage made me laugh, while Henry's seemed very typical of the time period. Eleanor's desire to rule her own land, love the man of her choosing, and raise her children to be kings and queens, made her seem a very progressive woman. Yet in today's world, she seems common. Interesting to think about it that way...

Sol Grancharoff

Medio cursi y con muchas inexactitudes históricas, pero muy lindo y llevadero...


I recently started caretaking at a house with a huge library. This book was among the rest and I picked it up out of an interest in Eleanor, and strong women in general. The book was disappointing, and historically inaccurate in ways that made Eleanor a much weaker and less inspiring character than she was in real life. Although there were many instances, the major standout was the portrayal in the book of Eleanor's marriage to Henry II of England after the annulment of her marriage to Louis of France. In the book, she is depicted as annulling the marriage in order to run off with a guy she's in love with, with Henry subsequently kidnapping her and forcing her into marriage. In reality, she probably instigated the marriage to Henry, an astute political move for both parties. There are a lot of other instances of Eleanor's motivations being portrayed as a desire for domestic happiness rather than the workings of the powerful political mind of a woman who was ruler of her own Dukedom as well as Queen of France and England. I don't know why women writers continue to undermine strong female historical characters by attributing all of those characters' actions to romance, but it's really exasperating.

Emer Mccarthy

It is my sincerest doubt that this woman has ever read a history book & perhaps not even a book. Her prose can only be likened to the worst type of romance novel, where the reader has an IQ of the average cake. I have never left such a damning review but this woman has no poetry in her soul and very possibly not a thought in her head. I will not begin to list the historical inaccuracies, the twee dialogue & wooden characters except to steal a quote, 'there was no beginning to her talent', the only way I can end my review is to say if you wish to read this tripe, firstly book your lobotomy or at least accept that historic appreciation is something you will never have


Ya había leído la historia de esta reina magnífica en la serie de Jean Plaidy "Los reyes Plantagenet", y puedo decir que lo que sucedió aquí fue muy curioso: acabé por detestar a un escritor ¡leyendo a otro! ¡Ésta sí es una novela histórica! La señora Plaidy se ha hecho millonaria vendiendo sus series históricas, pero después de leer libros como el de Kaufman da incluso coraje que Plaidy se considere "escritora". Kaufman logra contarnos una historia que atrapa desde la primera página, un relato en el que no se sabe dónde acaba lo estrictamente histórico y dónde comienza la ficción (el romance de Leonor con Rancon, por ejemplo), y aunque al final la autora aclara qué es estrictamente inventado, la historia es una verdadera delicia. Personajes muy bien dibujados, consistentes, trágicos algunos, románticos todos, y la prosa sencilla, sin florituras innecesarias pero muy, muy disfrutable. Por supuesto, sin ningún rigor histórico, pero completamente recomendable.


I loved this book! Knowing that this was fiction I think helped a bit, I wasn't looking for 100% accuracy of history from the book. It was easy to read, and the story was compelling. I could not put this book down and I have re-read it several times.

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