Review: Eleanor, Crown Jewel of Aquitaine

Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine, France, 1136 (The Royal Diaries)Eleanor, Crown Jewel of Aquitaine
by Kristiana Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eleanor, Jewel of Aquitaine / 0-439-16484-2

Since my memorized history seems to gain larger gaps every year, I started this book with no real recollection of who, precisely, Eleanor was and I finally had to check the back of the book to find that - among other things - she was the mother of the famous Richard the Lionhearted and the infamous Prince John from the Robin Hood legends.

"Eleanor" does not, as a Royal Diary, disappoint. A princess with vast lands and holdings, she lives her life in relative leisure, craving romance and passion in her daily life. Longing to model her life after the King Arthur legends, she flirts gently with her chosen knight and begs the castle minstrel to compose songs to their chivalric (and chaste) "love". When her father dies unexpectedly, leaving no male heir, Eleanor and her sister are confined as much as possible to the inner castle, as the local lords and barons plot to kidnap the two girls and take them as unwilling wives, in order to claim their lands as their own. Eleanor dreams of a dashing prince who will arrive to save her from the fear of being kidnapped and from the monotony of being a lonely princess.

As far as the Royal Diaries go, this one is a quick, light read and very pleasant. The history here is interesting and provides a nice contrast to some of the later diaries - it is something of a shock to see the princesses living in relative isolation and danger after having read of the palatial estates of, say, Catherine the Great or Marie Antoinette. Parents of sensitive children should be aware that there is a brief incident with an ill child vomiting worms from his stomach, and Eleanor fears that worms will exit her eyes or stomach, but this fear passes quickly.

~ Ana Mardoll

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