Thank you to NetGalley, Quercus Books & the author for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Revolt.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 6th 2020
‘It is with a soft voice, full of menace, that our mother commands us to overthrow our father . . .
Richard Lionheart tells the story of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In 1173, she and three of her sons instigate a rebellion to overthrow the English king, her husband Henry Plantagenet. What prompts this revolt? How does a great queen persuade her children to rise up against their father? And how does a son cope with this crushing conflict of loyalties?
Replete with poetry and cruelty, this story takes us to the heart of the relationship between a mother and her favourite son – two individuals sustained by literature, unspoken love, honour and terrible violence.’ – Goodreads
When I saw that Quercus Books were offering this novel of NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. I’m a Medieval history nerd at heart and Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my absolute favourite historical figures. Plus the cover is gorgeous. It was obvious to me that I had to read this!
This novel is mostly told as a monologue from the perspective of Eleanor’s son Richard the Lionheart. I thought this to be a really interesting and unique idea, as it allows you to see the events of Eleanor’s life through a man. Seeing Richard’s admiration for his mother made for an extremely refreshing read, as it’s not something we often see in Medieval fiction (being proud of your mum isn’t a bad thing folks!). So, whilst the novel didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, I appreciated the new perspective. In addition, the novel treats us to a chapter from Eleanor’s perspective, which I relished reading.
She is said to be a witch, a whore, the lover of her father-in-law, so what? Her freedom shines in the world’s face.
Moreover, the prose is also a huge strength of this novel. In case you didn’t already know, this The Revolt is a translation from its original French. Maybe this is why the writing is so ‘lyrical‘ in way – the prose to be beautiful to read.
I also appreciated that the novel wasn’t too long nor too short. I’ve read a lot of half-fictionalised biographical novels on historical figures, and a lot of them tend to be mammoths to read (If you’re interested – my favourite of all time is The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman!). Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, The Revolt is written with just enough information for the beginner Medievalist, whilst also providing a fun read for anyone who loves Eleanor of Aquitaine.
To conclude, I really don’t have anything bad to say about The Revolt – it’s the perfect read for any budding Historian. If you don’t know anything about Eleanor, I highly suggest researching such an inspirational historical figure.