Saturday, February 2, 2008

Review - Duchess of Aquitaine - Part II

This review of Margaret Ball's "Duchess of Aquitaine - A Novel of Eleanor" continues on from my previous post - "Review - Duchess of Aquitaine".

Okay - I finally finished the book - emphasis on the finally!

My thoughts - well, I am reminded of a novel on Eleanor's early years that I read over 20 years ago - the title and author escape me, but the image on the cover of the novel is still vivid - Eleanor, seated on a throne with the image of Abbot Suger standing ominously behind her.

Margaret Ball's novel deals specifically with Eleanor's life from the death of her father (1137) up until her impending marriage to Henry II (1152).

I am sorry, but for all of Margaret's bragging, I found the book rather stale. The blurb on the back " .... gloriously illuminates the life of one of the most powerful, resourceful, and fascinating women in all history .." is a bit of an over-statement. This could possibly be due to the fact that I am on extremely familiar terms with Eleanor myself, so I knew what was coming. Except for one little item - Sybilla of Anjou!

Yes, Margaret, you too failed in your "careful and sounder research". You made the mistake of many authors and biographers who preceeded you. Sybilla did not participate in the Second Crusade - her husband Thierry did, but not Sybilla. A little more careful research would have revealed that she was in fact in Flanders putting down a rebellion - which is documented. Or is this "artistic liberty" ??

As the novel ends in 1152, I will be presuming that a sequel will no doubt be forthcoming. A little more diligence Margaret a second time around.

And yes, dear readers, I do realise this is a novel - a fictional account of Eleanor's earlier years - but Margaret herself, put out the challenge - but I will leave it for you to do your own digging!

No comments: