||Spun Stories Press
||October 18, 2011
A family saga about the Yorks, Nevilles and Lancasters, whose family feud started the Wars of the Roses. Told by Lady Cecylee Neville, the Thwarted Queen.
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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.
Berkhamsted Castle, Hertfordshire
Feast of Saint Joseph
March 19, 1495
Now I am ready to speak, for death will be with me by year’s end.
The House of Tudor shall declare this tale a lie. They will say I’m an impostor. Let there be no mistake about my identity. As proof, I lay forth my name in its true construction:
Queen by Right
Duchess of York
I am Cecylee—not Cecily or Cicely. My name has been corrupted by those who claim to have the ear of the present King of England, one Harry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, a self-styled King Henry VII. Let those who seek to dismiss my testament compare this sign with the many documents signed as Duchess of York and Queen by Right.
I have had other names. I was born Lady Cecylee de Neville, in May 1415. In the year 1424, I became Duchess of York. Admirers called me the Rose of Raby. Enemies called me Proud Cis. I am the mother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III. I have seen my sons kill their opponents, and even their kin.
Folk think me saintly, for I hear Mass several times a day. I hear religious texts while I dine, I spend hours on my knees in prayer. This causes them to disbelieve some of the unflattering stories whispered about me. Folk are too kind if they imagine that a pious old woman couldn’t have sinned. It grieves me greatly to say this, but late in life, while I was living in the countryside as Abbess of a Benedictine Order, I was responsible for the murder of two of my grandsons.
In these pages, I make confession, using my voice and the voices of others important to its weaving.
History comes alive
First of all: Kudos to the author for the extensive and accurate research in order to write this book.
The narrative is strong throughout the book. Cecylle Neville, the Duchess of York, is the main character--and what a character she is. The book starts with the "voice" of a young Cecylle and as she grows, so does her personality. She becomes a strong-willed, wise, and spirited woman.
Married to the King, she has an extramarital affair, and her son, Edward is the result of it. Eventually, her husband finds out, and accepts him as his own. This sure put a strong twist in the story. Though never historically proven, it was believed by some that Cecily had an illegitimate child. I love how the author delved deep and flushed this part of history out. Actually, I am impressed with the detail regarding just about everything in this book--the war, family drama, the "mad king", as well as other colorful characters throughout the story. Thwarted Queen has it all. Complex plots, and subplots are well thought out. I must add that the descriptive settings are written with such finesse I could "see" them. I highly recommend this book.
The Queen is thwarted, but not the reader!
This review is from: THWARTED QUEEN (Kindle Edition)
THWARTED QUEENThe Thwarted Queen is that wonderful combination of historical accuracy and a story that sweeps you away into the 15th century world of lords and ladies, royal intrigue, deep-seated passions and women as the power behind their husbands. Follow Cecylee Neville from her childhood to her death in 1495 at the age of 80; meet her enamoured husband, his dim-witted cousin, his dashing playboy heir, the spy from Rouen and the little princes whose fate has been one of the enduring mysteries of English History. Cynthia Sally Haggard has not only researched in a broad range of written material about the period, but some written material OF the period. Perhaps it was her visit to the ruins of Raby Castle that brought Cecylee Neville, the Rose of Raby, to life for her, but it is her pen that brings this controversial and strong-willed queen to life for us. Haggard starts her story when Cecylee is nine years old and about to be betrothed to Richard, Duke of York, who is fourteen. For those who don't know, Richard of York and Henry of Lancaster are the two men who lead in the Wars of the Roses. Haggard mixes history and passion, romance and dynastic struggles to create an entrancing story that is hard to put down. So, settle in somewhere comfortable, and be glad that a Kindle Fire, Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-FiKindle can go just about anywhere
Historical fiction at its best
This past Saturday, I picked up the first slim volume of Cynthia Haggard's "Thwarted Queen" series and figured I would read it and the other volumes over the coming week. But by Sunday evening, I had finished the entire saga about the 15th century family feud that Haggard brings to us.
What held my attention so raptly? I love a good, swiftly moving story, and this certainly is one, about the intertwined lives of English royalty just before the Wars of the Roses. We learn about a world that is moved by forces distinct from, yet closely related to, those that move our world today: leaders of nations mix "the personal" and "the political" in ways that turn out to shape their own lives and the lives of everyone around them in profound -- sometimes violent, sometimes thoughtful and loving -- ways.
This is historical fiction that seeks to give an accurate account of the murderous feud between York, Lancaster, and Neville families. The era is seen mainly through the eyes of Cecylee Neville, Duchess of York, whose life and times the author has carefully researched. The book is all the more interesting because it teaches us about the actual history of people and events at the beginning of what we call today "the modern world." (Readers will appreciate Haggard's extensive notes about the challenges she faced in getting the historical facts right in the story she tells.)
But there's one additional reason why I couldn't put this book down. It's so well written! The form of this historical recounting approaches poetry, filled with metaphorically laden language that conveys the story in a moving way. Haggard tells this story in flowing English that is readily comprehensible, yet expressive of an intriguing world whose patterns and rhythms of speech and thought are not quite out own.
Although this book is centered on the lives and times of English royalty, it by no means views that world in isolation from its historical setting. Haggard is well aware that what went on behind the walls of the castles and the court was inevitably connected to the lives of nobles and commoners in the surrounding communities, whose good or ill will could, as the author show, decisively shape monarchical matters ranging from war-making and economic policy to the choice of a new king.
In brief, I recommend this book as an absorbing read that helps us understand what the dawn of modernity, in England and France, was like.
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