Table of Contents
The Queen's Pawn
“The Queen's Pawn
is a powerful portrait of two dynamic royal women and the men who controlled their livesâor is it the other way around? Treachery, betrayal, lustâand an unusual and compelling love story, beautifully told.”
âKaren Harper, author of
The Queen's Governess
Â “The Queen's Pawn
by Christy English resurrects from misty legend Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, Princess Alais, and Richard the Lionhearted. I knew the outlines of their stories, but now I have come to know them as fully, emotionally human, both flawed and magnificent. The French princess Alais comes as a child to England to be raised by Eleanor for marriage to Richard, the queen's favorite son. But the child becomes a beautiful woman and catches Henry's eye, starting an ever-escalating palace war of intrigue, betrayal, and passion. Almost 850 years have passed, but English brings the complex time of unrest and deceit to full, lyrical life for us. A captivating love story of Richard and Alais beyond the story I thought I knew of a young woman trapped between Eleanor and Henry in their lifelong struggle for mastery over the English Crown and each other. A jewel of a novel.”
âJeane Westin, author of
His Last Letter
“What a promising debut! With deft strokes, Christy English transforms Alais from the innocent child her father sends to England into the cunning woman her surrogate mother, Eleanor, teaches her to beâwhile the crafty and sophisticated Eleanor is ensnared and nearly brought down by helpless love for her adopted daughter. The complex love-hate quadrangle between Eleanor, her husband, Henry, her son Richard, and the ever more wily Alais is a fascinating and original take on this juicy historical footnote.”
âEllyn Bache, award-winning novelist of
Daughters of the Sea
“Told with simple grace and from the heart,The Queen's Pawn
is a moving evocation of two women, deep friends but destined to a tragic rivalry for royal power and two men's love.”
âMargaret Frazer, author of
A Play of Piety
“An astonishing debut! Christy English spins an unforgettable tale of dangerous splendor, evoking the stone and tapestry of the Plantagenet era, and the fierce rivalry of two equally fascinating and determined women, whose ambitions threaten to overturn their world.”
âC. W. Gortner, author of
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
“Fast-paced; subgenre fans will enjoy this deep saga as two women vie for control of the English stage.”
âThe Merry Genre Go Round Reviews
“Balanced historically and very readable. . . . I was very satisfied with the ending; though a bit sad, it ties up loose ends and gives a feeling of forgiveness and redemption, as well as a promise to a future for the characters.”
“As torrid as any end-of-the-week episode ofAll My Children
, and a lot more highbrow. . . . [English] keeps dramatic tension taut.”
“Intriguing . . . I highly recommend this book. English deftly brings to life one of the most intriguing women in history.”
ALSO BY CHRISTY ENGLISH
The Queen's Pawn
NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY
Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA â¢ Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) â¢ Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England â¢ Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) â¢ Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) â¢ Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India â¢ Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) â¢ Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, April 2011
Copyright Â© Christy English, 2011
Readers Guide copyright Â© Penguin Group (USA), Inc., 2011
All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARKâMARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
English, Christy. To be queen: a novel of the early life of Eleanor of Aquitaine/Christy English.
eISBN : 978-1-101-47912-4
1. Eleanor, of Aquitaine, Queen, consort of Henry II, King of England,
1122?â1204âFiction. I. Title.
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For William X, Duke of Aquitaine
Count of Poitou
As always when writing a novel, there are many people to thank. I must begin by thanking my parents, Karen and Carl English, for their unswerving support throughout my life. They gave me the gift of exploring my own mind as a child, and I reap the benefits of their generosity to this day.
I thank my brother, Barry English, for always making me laugh and for not letting me take myself too seriously. I thank Marianne Nubel for always believing in me, and for seeing the success of my novels alive in her own mind, before that success was ever an accomplished fact. Thanks to LaDonna Lindgren and Laura Creasy, both for their unwavering support and for reading this novel in early drafts. I offer thanks to Amy Pierce, Audrey Forrester, and Hope Johnston, who have always stood behind my work, urging me on, even in the darkest days, when it seemed my writing would never see the light of publication. And I must thank my godmother, Vena Miller, and my dear friend Susan Randall for their unflagging support.
Once again, I must thank the brilliant team at New American Library for their work: Michelle Alpern for her eagle eye in copyediting, Kaitlyn Kennedy for getting the word out about Eleanor, and Maureen O'Boyle, who designed the beautiful cover. As always, I thank Margaret O'Connor Chumley, Jhanteigh Kupihea, and Claire Zion. Without their continued devotion to Eleanor, rivaled only by my own, this book would never have been possible.
Abbey of Fontevrault
County of Poitou
I WAS MY FATHER'S FAVORITE. I KNEW THIS FROM THE DAY I was born. I seemed to take this knowledge in with my mother's milk.
Men came to my father's court in the early days, patted my head, and fed me sweets. They took in the stone walls and tapestries of my father's palace as if they might see beyond them to my father's lands, stretching from the border of Burgundy to the sea. Those men leaned close to Papa and said, “One day there will be a son to rule all this.” But my brother died, along with my mother, and there was never another heir. I was left, the only child with the strength to follow my father.
I find the thought of my own death a comfort now that I am so old that my skin is pale and translucent. Now that the loves of my long life, the father who shaped me, the husband who fought me, the son who was loyal to me alone, have all gone down into the dust. My father died far from Aquitaine, but Henry and Richard both lie buried in this abbey. Soon I will lie between them, my body separating them for the last time.