Queen By Right
Anne Easter Smith
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: May 2011
Author Site: http://www.anneeastersmith.com/
My Rating: 4.5/5
Source: Received for blog tour from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
From the award-winning author of A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, and The King’s Grace comes another masterful historical novel—the story of Cecily of York, mother of two kings and the heroine of one of history’s greatest love stories. Anne Easter Smith’s novels are beloved by readers for their ability “to grab you, sweep you along with the story, and make you fall in love with the characters.”
In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet.History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father’s household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country. Queen by Right marks Anne Easter Smith’s greatest achievement, a book that every fan of sweeping, exquisitely detailed historical fiction will devour.
Still being a novice in the historical fiction realm I like to think I still know a good story when I read one. Queen by Right was a very compelling read that both educated and entertained me. I’m not at all familiar with England in the mid 1400’s or the War of the Roses and the fight for the English throne between the York and Lancaster family. I also admit I had never heard of Cecily of York before reading the synopsis of Queen by Right. So going into this chunkster of a book with absolutely no prior knowledge was a wee bit scary. The book took me much longer to finish than I had anticipated…not because I had a hard time getting through it though. On the contrary, Queen by Right was a book to savor in a peaceful room where one could totally immerse themselves in the characters and politics of the time period. I wasn’t able to find the solitude for it sadly. But I’m delighted to report that I have found a superb story-teller in Anne Easter Smith. It is historical fiction like Queen by Right that gets me excited to dive into the genre!
Cecily of York, or Proud Cis, is such a strong female character. Stuck in a time period where women, even those of high rank, are more property than anything else she still stands out as a proud and independent woman (as independent as she can be at least). I adored the beginning of the book and getting to know Cecily during her childhood. She was lucky enough to get to know and fall in love with her husband Richard before they were married. Being a romantic at heart it was nice to see their love shine all the way through both of their lives.
Politics and court intrigue really come to the forefront of the novel after Cecily gets married. I liked the fact that although a lot of information was being provided I didn't feel it was too dry or muddled in any way. The best thing about reading historical fiction is learning things about history without really realizing it. I remember sitting in history class (or any class for that matter lol) and being bored most times either about the subject matter or the way I was being taught. And I may have been a lazy student... but thats a tale for another time. The point is that Anne has taken some already interesting historical figures and put a spin on their story that even lazy learners could easily enjoy.
I enjoyed the fact that Anne Easter Smith provided a list of characters, genealogy charts and a map to help. I admit the number of characters was a bit overwhelming and the fact that a lot of them had the same name didn’t help either. But that was minor setback in such a fantastic and engaging story. I read in an article from Anne’s current resident city of Salem, MA where she says "I try to serve those readers who are looking for accuracy in historical fact and yet I also engage those who want a good story with strong characters, a little romance and lots of period detail." Now I may not be the go to person to check on accuracy of historical fact but I know that I was thoroughly engaged and very happy with my reading experience. I’ll be reading more of Anne’s work and more about this time period.
P.S. (cover talk)
Again, still a beginner in historical fiction so I’m not too familiar with the cover themes yet. I read on another blog that the castle pictured on the cover is Raby Castle where Cecily was born and the falcon actually has importance in the story as well. So you know anything that ties into the story on a cover is a winner in my eyes =)
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