The Winter Crown

Written by Elizabeth Chadwick
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

Continuing the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, this book follows the middle years of her reign as Queen to Henry II and Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. Beginning with her coronation at Westminster Abbey in December 1154, it goes on to follow her life through her childbearing years and the gradual break-up of her marriage to Henry. The death of her firstborn son, William, at the age of two is devastating, and she also finds giving up her daughters to foreign marriages at a very young age, as was common in the Middle Ages, very difficult to bear. But Richard, the heir to Aquitaine, is her favourite, and she is determined not to lose control of him as he grows to manhood alongside his other three brothers, Henry, Geoffrey and John.

The historical facts of this era are well known and very well documented, but even so, Elizabeth Chadwick still manages to weave a gripping story which I found unputdownable. Her characters, both the real and the imagined minor ones, live and breathe and have distinct personalities of their own. The pace keeps the reader turning the pages, and the sadness of reaching the final page is only offset by the knowledge that there is another book to come. Personally, I have been an ardent fan of this author for many years now and look forward with keen anticipation to the third book in this trilogy. Highly recommended.