Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Secret Eleanor

Cecelia Holt
The Berkley Publishing Group
Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-425-23450-1
362 pages
$ 15.00

When someone lived almost a millennium ago, that is in the 1100s, how can we know what really happened in a person’s life? We know about their major events, but the actual details are left to the imagination.

THE SECRET ELEANOR begins with Eleanor of Aquitaine as being the Queen of France and being married to Louis VII. She is unhappy with this marital relationship even though they have two daughters. This novel is about what might have happened when she first met Henry of Anjou, her soon to be second husband and the future king of England.

Having read many books regarding Eleanor, this one took a slightly different approach. The involvement of Petronella, her younger sister, is interesting bys turning the divorce and marriage into a romance novel with hunky muscular males and curvaceously sultry females. While this drama is occurring, there are also the constant battles for more castles and land between Eleanor, her husband, her husband to be, and also his brother.

THE SECRET ELEANOR is quick and easy to read. The fictionalizing of minor events revolving around the documented actions is definitely a unique approach. Since no one from the time period actually wrote down the little details, all that we are left with is the skeleton of the puzzle without all the pieces. How Cecelia Holland created these details was masterful.

The characters are believable and human in their decisions. Eleanor’s intelligence and slyness made her a legend and continues with her many dangerous and risky escapades that became a part of her everyday life. The story is well-organized and engaging. Even though I was aware of what the outcome of the events would be, THE SECRET ELEANOR made we want to keep turning pages to find out the resolutions of various situations.

Cecelia Holland is known for writing in many genres including historical romance in which this book would be categorized. She has written numerous books and currently resides in California.

Personally, though I am not a fan of romance novels, I plan to read more by Cecelia Holland. She turns a predictable storyline into an unpredictable adventure.

Teri Davis November 14, 2010

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