Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review : The Winter Crown (Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy) by Elizabeth Chadwick

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Alienor’s story begins when she is 13 in the first book of the trilogy, The Summer Queen, which I reviewed in 2013 on the Weebly blog.

I recommend The Summer Queen for all readers (not just readers of historical fiction). Alienor is someone we can all identify with … she is a woman from history who was powerful and indomitable and The Summer Queen is the start of her journey through life.

We often find that women get forgotten through the years and I love that Elizabeth Chadwick brings Alienor to life in her trilogy.  You don’t need to have read The Summer Queen to make sense of The Winter Crown but you would be missing out on a powerful read.

Paperback: 528 pages

Publisher: Sphere (19 Nov. 2015)

ISBN-10: 0751548251

ISBN-13: 978-0751548259

An extraordinary woman. A legendary queen.

In 1154, Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most powerful women in Europe, is crowned queen of England beside her young husband Henry II. While Henry battles their enemies and lays his plans, Eleanor is an adept acting ruler and mother to their growing brood of children. But she yearns for more than this – if only Henry would listen.

Instead, Henry pushes Eleanor to the sidelines, involving himself with a young mistress and denying Eleanor her rightful authority. As matters reach a crisis, Eleanor becomes caught up in a family rebellion. And even a queen must face the consequences of treason…

Award-winning author Elizabeth Chadwick continues the fascinating story of a queen fighting for her rightful place in a world of divided loyalties and passionate betrayals.

In The Winter Crown the story opens at Westminster Abbey in December 1154 at the coronation of Henry II and Alienor.  She is pregnant with their first child and at this time in their marriage, still discussing royal affairs together.  Thomas Becket is appointed Chancellor of England and although this is a part of the story during this time period, it doesn’t dominate the story.  

Through the years, Henry and Alienor spend more and more time apart.  So much heartache for Alienor as a wife, mother and ruler in her own right.  She knows what Henry is capable of and how sly he is and is mostly one step ahead of him.  Were my emotions involved?  The scene of his final betrayal made me so angry.  No wonder she chose the path she did.  

I loved the friendship between Alienor and Isabel de Warenne.  Isabel’s situation highlights how the masculine dominated world thought of women at this time and without Alienor on her side, her life could have been so different.  There’s another love story woven through this historical fiction although it has the possibility to cause conflict through differing loyalties.

Alienor’s strength and resilience (and how that although she is marginalised by Henry, she fights back) is captured perfectly in The Winter Crown.  Once again, Elizabeth Chadwick weaves fact and fiction into a story that not only made these historical characters feel very real but also life as it was then.  My emotions were hooked in and I too suffered alongside Alienor.  We know from history what comes next but even so I loathed leaving her at the end of the story in 1174 at the start of her ordeal in England.

Recommended Read


The Autumn Throne publishes in hardcover in September this year and is on my wishlist!

I would like to thank the publishers for approval via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Connect with Elizabeth Chadwick

Author Website


Twitter @Chadwickauthor

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 8+ years. My love of reading, crocheting and being out in nature are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school. I'm passionate about early help and sharing strategies with families to empower and help build resilience. I'm a member of of my Local Authority's Early Help Operational Board, working alongside other professionals to instigate change and growth.

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