Time and Chance: Eleanor of Aquitaine Series, Book 2

June 11, 2013 - Comment

The long-awaited sequel to Sharon Kay Penman’s acclaimed novel When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance recounts the tempestuous marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II in a magnificent story of love, power, ambition-and betrayal. He was nineteen when they married, she eleven years his senior, newly divorced from the King of

The long-awaited sequel to Sharon Kay Penman’s acclaimed novel When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance recounts the tempestuous marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II in a magnificent story of love, power, ambition-and betrayal.

He was nineteen when they married, she eleven years his senior, newly divorced from the King of France. She was beautiful, headstrong, intelligent, and rich. It was said he was Fortune’s favorite, but he said a man makes his own luck. Within two years, Henry had made his, winning the throne of England and exercising extraordinary statecraft skills to control his unruly barons, expand his own powers, and restore peace to a land long torn by banditry and bloodshed. Only in one instance did Henry err: Elevating his good friend and confidant Thomas Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury, he thought to gain control over the Church itself. But the once worldly Becket suddenly discovered God, and their alliance withered in the heat of his newfound zeal. What Becket saw as a holy mission-to protect the Church against State encroachments-Henry saw as arrant betrayal, and they were launched inevitably on the road to murder.

Rich in character and color, true to the historical details, sensitive to the complex emotions of these men and women, Time and Chance recreates their story with all the drama, pain, and passion of the moment. It is Penman at her best.The Sunne in Splendour confirmed Sharon Kay Penman’s place in the upper echelons of historical fiction, combining a breathtaking panoply of the past with an acute psychological observation of her characters. Time and Chance is the second part of her planned trilogy about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, beginning in the glory years of their reign. Penman conjures for us an astonishing era in which Henry battles with the Welsh and the French king, appoints Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury, and, by taking a mistress, makes a bitter enemy of his wife.

Readers know the scalpel-like precision of Penman’s character building from her earlier work, and the emotional lives of Henry and the troubled Eleanor are powerfully realized. As in the first book of the sequence, When Christ and His Saints Slept, conflict is ever the driving force. Henry and Eleanor’s remarkable partnership was proving highly fecund, both politically, and physically, as Eleanor gave birth to five sons and three daughters, laying to rest her reputation as a barren queen and founding a dynasty that was to last three centuries. But auguries of trouble ahead were apparent: war with the Welsh; acrimonious battles with Eleanor’s first husband, King Louis VII of France. But the truly destabilizing factor was Henry’s decision to appoint his friend and confidant Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry had assumed that the worldly, ambitious Becket would be the perfect ally, and was devastated when the new archbishop cast off his own worldly past as he embraced his role as Defender of the Faith, swapping dissolution for piety.

As Penman vividly demonstrates, Henry saw Becket’s action as a humiliating betrayal. One of the most famous murders in history followed, with further conflict in the kingdom caused by Henry’s liaison with the daughter of a baron. In bedding Rosamund Clifford, Henry put his marriage and even his kingship at risk. As always, Penman handles her research lightly; the personal drama is the engine of her narrative, with each fresh scandal and intrigue delivered with a beguiling combination of relish and restraint. She is assured in her detailing of the political and ecclesiastical clashes of the court, but it is Henry II who strides her novel like a colossus–just as he did the kingdom he ruled. –Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.ukThe long-awaited sequel to Sharon Kay Penman’s acclaimed novel When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance recounts the tempestuous marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II in a magnificent story of love, power, ambition-and betrayal.

He was nineteen when they married, she eleven years his senior, newly divorced from the King of France. She was beautiful, headstrong, intelligent, and rich. It was said he was Fortune’s favorite, but he said a man makes his own luck. Within two years, Henry had made his, winning the throne of England and exercising extraordinary statecraft skills to control his unruly barons, expand his own powers, and restore peace to a land long torn by banditry and bloodshed. Only in one instance did Henry err: Elevating his good friend and confidant Thomas Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury, he thought to gain control over the Church itself. But the once worldly Becket suddenly discovered God, and their alliance withered in the heat of his newfound zeal. What Becket saw as a holy mission-to protect the Church against State encroachments-Henry saw as arrant betrayal, and they were launched inevitably on the road to murder.

Rich in character and color, true to the historical details, sensitive to the complex emotions of these men and women, Time and Chance recreates their story with all the drama, pain, and passion of the moment. It is Penman at her best.

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Comments

Anonymous says:

It’s greatly recommended – no actually you SHOULD read When Christ and his Saints Slept. Not only does it give you the background, an introduction to some characters that are featured in this book, and a lot of history, Time and Chance is a continuation of previously mentioned novel.There’s just something about Penman’s words that weaves the entire story into one very long epic movie like book. Everything is so well written, and descriptions are spot on and accurate. There are a lot…

Anonymous says:

TIME AND CHANCE picks up where WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT off. In the second novel, we follow Henry II who was but a boy as his mother, Maude, fought for the throne. In the end, Maude and her opponent tired each other out for almost twenty years, agreeing to leave the throne to her son. Henry’s rise looked promising as he had a distinguished battle record and married the beautiful and clever Eleanor of Aquitaine, making him the wealthiest man in Europe.

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