Saturday, December 1, 2007

Review - The Tigress and the Rose

Subtitled as: "Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Fair Rosamond" by Richard Cameron Low.

Okay - I didn't finish it, so how then can I give a review. Quite easily, actually.

The premise for this novel is the relationship between Eleanor and Rosamond. The problem is that, in my opinion, despite this being a work of fiction, I really could not respond to the work.

  • The meetings of Henry II and Rosamund when both were children - just didn't work for me. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe they ever met prior to Henry becoming King of England, and certainly not in the early stages of his marriage to Eleanor. Henry met Rosamund c.1166 and their relationship lasted ten years, during which time Eleanor was held a prisoner (1173 - 1189).
  • The tedious background information contained in the first chapter - too long.
  • The naming of the members of Eleanor's Amazon women during her Second Crusade - well as two were non-existant, poor scholarship.
  • The "relationship" between Eleanor and a Kurd called Ayub at Antioch, the resultant offspring being Saladin himself - unbelieveable - as was the supposition that Eleanor was a virgin at the time. I believe that Eleanor already had one daughter (c.1145) prior to the Second Crusade, and gave birth to another shortly after her return (c.1151). Louis may have been pious but he and Eleanor were married for at least seven years - and if she were a virgin, it would surely have been cause for comment.
  • The sister of Ayub, one Rohesia, was the mother of St.Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury through her liaison with an Englishman named Gilbert.

In addition, this work of fiction was interspersed with factual notes, which should have been appendixed at the end of the book as part of an Author's Note.

I am not sure what the author's intent was - a work of fiction or a factual biography - but it reads as neither.

I was really looking forward to this interplay between the formidable Eleanor and the Fair Rosamund, but was bitterly disappointed by the time I reached Page 86 (Year 1148).

I welcome feedback and comments from anyone who has read the book - I, I am sad to say, just could not finish it.

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