Review copy provided by the author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.
Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.
The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.
But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War – during which England loses all of her possessions in France – and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.
This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.
Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard tackles a fascinating and famous time period - that of the Wars of the Roses. I have read several books that take place during this period, but they always seem to be told from the male perspective. In Thwarted Queen, the reader is able to read about the events through a female point of view - a unique view, in fact. The book is told from Cecylee Neville's point of view - she is the wife of Richard, Duke of York, and the mother of Edward IV and Richard III.
This is a work of historical fiction, so some liberties are taken within the story that aren't necessarily completely accepted, such as the affair Cecylee had with the archer, Blaybourne, leading to the birth of Cecylee's firstborn son, Edward. This explanation does go a long way in explaining some of the more irregular behavior and some political problems that arose after her son became King Edward IV. I thought it made sense and added many things for the reader to consider.
Because women were generally not considered important enough for their lives to be documented, we have very little information about what Cecylee was really like as a person. However, Haggard portrays Cecylee as fairly modern in her attitudes about women and their place in society. But this could be attributed in part, to the fact that she is related to Geoffrey Chaucer, and reads his Canterbury Tales, and in particular, "The Wife of Bath's Tale" is a major influence on her. While I doubt that Cecylee was actually quite as independent and free spirited as she is portrayed in the book, I like to think of her that way. Cecylee, as described by Cynthia Sally Haggard, was smart, a fast learner, a shrewd politician at times and very observant of the people around her.And while Cecylee was a smart woman, her biggest weakness was being completely blind to her own children's faults. This leads to many of her worst decisions and some of the worst events in the story.Despite her faults, she does finally realize her errors and tries to make amends. I really liked Cecylee and I empathized with her situation. Through her eyes and through her tale, the reader is drawn into the complex, complicated, and dangerous world in which she lived.
I enjoyed all the history that Haggard works into the story. She manages to explain the political backdrop as well as the many and various players in the political scene and the complexities of their relationships and alliances with painstaking care.
I would heartily recommend Thwarted Queen to anyone who enjoys historical fiction particularly those who enjoy the history aspect to historical fiction.
ABOUT THE AUTHORBorn and raised in Surrey, England, CYNTHIA SALLY HAGGARD has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Why does she write historical novels? Because she has been reading them with great enjoyment since she was a child. Because she has a great imagination and a love of history that won’t go away. And because she has an annoying tendency to remember trivial details of the past and to treat long-dead people as if they were more real than those around her.
Cynthia’s biggest influence was her grandmother, Stephanie Treffry, who had a natural story-telling ability. As a widow in 1970s Britain, Grandma Stephanie didn’t drive a car, so would spend time waiting for buses. Her stories were about various encounters she had at those bus-stops. Nothing extraordinary, except that she made them so funny, everyone was in fits of laughter. A born entertainer, Cynthia tries to emulate her when she writes her novels.
In case you were wondering, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of her great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at www.spunstories.com.
THWARTED QUEEN by Cynthia Sally HaggardVirtual Book Tour Schedule:Monday, February 11
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, February 12
Review at The Book Garden
Wednesday, February 13
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, February 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, February 15
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, February 18
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, February 19
Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, February 20
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, February 21
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Feature & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Friday, February 22
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Monday, February 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, February 26
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, February 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, February 28
Author Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Friday, March 1
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews