Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Today: Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir

With Captive Queen (Ballantine) noted historical biographer Alison Weir (The Lady in the Tower, Mistress of the Monarchy) comes full circle, completing a process she started years ago while doing research for the book that would become the biography, Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life. In an Author’s Note to Captive Queen, Weir tells us that while she worked on the Aquitaine biography, she first got the idea to write historical fiction:
Essentially, the nature of medieval biography, particularly of women, is the piecing together of fragments of information and making sense of them. It can be a frustrating task, as there are often gaps you know you can never fill. It came to me one day ... that the only way of filling those gaps would be to write a historical novel, because -- as I then thought -- a novelist does not have to work within the same constraints as a historian.
And so here we are with a novel rigorously based on fact -- since Weir wrote the book on Eleanor of Aquitaine, we know this to be true -- but with the missing bits filled in by talented and educated guesses by what must by now be one of the leading experts on the notorious French queen.

As always, Weir’s writing is captivating and vivid. She brings, of course, a mastery to her subject through, at least in part, all of that research in putting together her very good biography. But Weir is also a very good storyteller and, as a result, Captive Queen is like a gift to enthusiasts of this character and the period.

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