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

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.

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.


** 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


I love historical fiction, so I'm a little biased, but I loved Pamela Kaufmann's treatment of Eleanor's story. Yes, a lot of historical liberties were taken, but she does it seamlessly and tastefully - one of my favorite books.


This was a great book to read after Pillars of the Earth. Since they both occur in roughly the same time periods there is a nice overlap. I can not imagine surviving in that period of time. Women were largely dismissed and wow, was the outlook bleak!

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


Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the most interesting figures in history. First duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, then queen of France, then queen of England, she held a great deal of power.This book starts with her imprisonment by her second husband, Henry II of England, in Wales. She asks for parchment to write her story, as she is certain that she will die soon.The book continues in flashback, starting shortly before her investiture with the honors of Aquitaine at age 15. We see a youthful romance, a great deal of strife -- and then an arranged, unwanted and doomed marriage to the hyper-religious Louis of France. The latter had felt a strong vocation to the priesthood and came to the throne most reluctantly upon the death of both father and brother.In any event, it is not Eleanor who is sought by Louis, nor subsequently by Henry: always it is the rich and powerful Duchy of Aquitaine, which Eleanor holds. Forced into both marriages by common convention, she struggles to keep her people safe, even going on Crusade, organizing a rebellion against Henry and more.These are all historical facts that are woven into a rich tale people with entertaining characters. A delightful read all around.


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...


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.


An excellent account, written in the first person, of the life of Eleanor of Aquitane who was queen of France, later queen of England as well as the mother of Richard Coeur de Lion (whose father was Henry II of England) and his brother John, who both ultimately became kings of England. She was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in Europe.


First sentence: "We departed London on the Winchester Royal Road riding ten abreast, a royal guard in smart scarlet, helmets and swords glittering in the low winter sun, and my spirits suddenly burst with happiness." Eleanor of Aquitaine was a fascinating woman. She became Duchess of Aquitaine at 15, when most women were not allowed to hold positions of power in their own right. She became Queen of France and Queen of England, a great feat. She went to the Crusades with her husband. She bore 10 children and saw two of them become Kings of England. But who was Eleanor really? What made her tick? Pamela Kaufman attempts to answer those questions in this novelization of Eleanor's life. Eleanor of Aquitaine had a fascinating life and this book does a good job of telling that story. The settings are vivid and real. The characters are interesting and well described as well. It is easy to get lost in the middle ages reading this book. I had never read anything about Eleanor before and found her a very fascinating woman. The book is paced well. It covers over 50 years, but it does not seem to drag. Every scene has a purpose and when the book jumps around in time, it is clearly stated what year you are in currently to help keep up with what is going on. Even though many of the characters share the same first name, it is usually very easy to keep them all straight. It was very interesting, epic read. However there was one big thing I did not like about the book and that was the romance between Richard of Rancon and Eleanor. It seems like the author was trying to show that everything Eleanor achieved in her lifetime was for her lover. I won't say more, but it just really annoyed me. It seems like the author was trying to take this strong and ambitious woman and change her into this love-sick puppy dog. Plus a lot of their conversations just did not seem to make a lot of sense. Other than that, the book was historically accurate and a good introduction to Eleanor. I would recommend it to people who like a little romance with their royal history. If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory, you will probably like this book. However, if you like royal history with strong women who do not need a man to excuse their actions this one is probably not for you. Alphabet Challenge: BParanormal Scavenger Hunt: WitchRoyal Era Challenge: AD 1100-AD 1450

Althea Ann

Straight historical fiction, except for a few rather insignificant appearances by the ghost of the title character's grandfather....However, in this case, the emphasis is on 'fiction,' not 'historical,' even though the author is an academician.Eleanor of Aquitaine was a strong, scheming, politically brilliant woman of the Middle Ages, but the author makes her character's motivation behind everything she does related to an abiding childhood love. Unfortunately, this love affair is total fiction - admittedly a product of the author's imagination. This makes for a more tied-together, emotionally fulfilling plot for a novel - but it means that the actual historical motivations behind the events of Eleanor's life - a marriage to the King of France, a successful appeal to the Pope to annul that marriage, a marriage (at her request, unlike the events in the book [a kidnapping and rape]) to the King of England, and then a rebellion, involving their sons, against that king - the possible ACTUAL scenarios and motivations are not explored, because of this fictional love affair.I found this a little disappointing, but then again, historical fiction is probably never accurate, even when it strives to be, so it's really best to take it all as fantasy!


I'm sorry I wasted my money on this book. While its understandable for an author to twist history a bit to fit the story they want to tell, this one twisted things so far out of shape that Eleanor's life is hardly recognizable.

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.

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