Thursday, April 21, 2011


The Secret Eleanor by Cecelia Holland

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780425234501

Firstly I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this book an embarrassingly long time ago.  Better late than never I always say. (cough)

Now, the first thing I will say about this book which should tell you my feelings about it is... I LITERALLY closed the cover about a minute and a half ago and RAN to my laptop because I COULD NOT WAIT to tell you HOW MUCH I FRIGGEN LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!  

You all know by now that I love historical fiction, I mean I love other genres too, but this is my favourite fo sho.  I happen to wish I lived in the medieval times.  Oh I know what your going to say, "Lisa, that time period stunk.  I mean LITERALLY stunk.  People didn't bathe, rarely had teeth, women were treated like property or dirt or both...blah blah blah."  I can't explain it, maybe it's a past life thing.  But I just can disappear in a book set in that time period like none other.  

That being said. Another reason I enjoy books about historical royal folks is that I really know diddley squat about them.  I mean nothing.  Not next to nothing, not a little bit.  D-I-D-D-L-E-Y.  The only thing I can tell you about anything about any royal family is that there is a wedding coming up in a few days that might get some air time.  So, when I read books like this it's all new and very exciting to me. 

But enough about me.  

If you liked The Other Boleyn Girl, or books like that one with lots of twists and turns and "OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED, AND WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT..." kind of stuff, then this book is totally for you.  And even if you know the story of Eleanor, you will probably enjoy the way Cecelia Holland fleshes out the story. 

Here is the blurb for a summary, but not too much:

Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!

1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband's title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself  unsatisfied  with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.

Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man -hardly more than a boy, really-  across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably...

He is Henry D'Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

Cecelia manages to pull you through the narrative and leaves you breathlessly turning pages as fast as humanly possible.  I read this book in 4 days.  Basically as soon as I finished the last one I reviewed (The Civilized World by Susi Wyss) I picked this one up and read while watching TV, read in the car waiting for my daughter at this or that activity whilst my 4 year old was in the back seat earphones on movie in front of her --- in short -- I could not put it down!!!!  And really, people, isn't that every book lover's dream anyway?  To pick up a book and have it grab you until the very last EXTREMELY satisfying page????  In fact, I really really really wish Cecelia would continue the story until Eleanor's death.  She lived a very long life, even in this day and age, she died at a very ripe old age of 82... EIGHTY TWO!  Imagine!

There is plenty of swoon-worthy moments, and loads of description of the food, clothing, castle stuff -- all of the things that make historical fiction so damn yummy.  But not in a real romance-novelly kind of way, which is perfectly fine for some people, but I like them straight up with a bit of the bodice ripping.. if you get my meaning. 

If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would.  It's that good. 

For more about Cecelia Holland and her works (all 23 of them!) you can visit her website by clicking here. 

RATING:  5/5

3 Blabs:

Mystica said...

Sounds very good apart from a gorgeous cover

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I love when a book pulls me in and won't let go! Sounds like this book had you at hello! I don't know much about the historical royal folks either but I do know they make for some juicy fiction reading! I will have to put this on my wish list.

Audra said...

I so know what you mean about bolting to the computer to squeal about an awesome book -- thrilled you felt that way about this one because it's on my TBR and I'm dying to dig in and read it!

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