Monday, October 25, 2010
So where is my hesitation coming from? I think it’s because I was expecting a story about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Fictionalized, of course, but still, I had been looking forward to a book about the woman I’ve studied as a historical figure. Instead, it wasn’t real. It was "imagine this happened; there’s nothing to say that it could not have happened." And as much as I know that historical fiction is supposed to do this, to weave a web of "what-ifs" around historical events or people, sometimes it just jars too much. Eleanor’s life is so rich and larger than life to begin with, it hardly seems necessary to construct so elaborate a what-if to make her life...I don’t know...more interesting? If ever there was a life that didn’t need to be embellished with a "what-if" it would be Eleanor’s.
So in the end, I don’t really think of this as Eleanor’s story. I think of this as a wonderful historical novel about Petronilla, a fictional sister to a fictional queen, married to an ineffectual king. The queen escapes from her loveless marriage to find passionate love with a younger, stronger nobleman by means of an elaborate ruse. But she can not do it without the help of her loyal sister. Must she destroy that sister to achieve her ends?