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Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Review: Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith

 
Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith
ARC, Paperback, 528 pages
Touchstone
May 10, 2011
★★★★★
 
Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Publisher for Review as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
“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.”
I have read a couple of books that took place during the Wars of the Roses and dealing with the battle between King Henry VI and Edward of York. This was the first book that I have read that takes place during the events that actually ignite this battle of wills. The book begins almost at the end – Cecily, Duchess of York is looking back at the events that led up to the death of her dear husband and son five short weeks ago. We go back and look at her life from the early days when she was the Rose of Raby and the light of her father’s eye, we see her grow to love her husband, Richard, Duke of York, and we endure all of the triumphs and tragic events that they endure. Throughout this retelling we get glimpses of the present and understand what Cecily is thinking now after the fact. It is a look into her soul and the decisions that they made.

There is no doubt what side of the argument that the author writes from and I enjoyed reading the York perspective of events that I had only previously read from a Lancastrian viewpoint. With every book I read set during the Wars of the Roses I am persuaded to switch my loyalties and this book was no different. One of my favorite parts of this novel was the development of the love between Richard and Cecily. They were friends as children and grew to respect and encourage each other and truly find a love match. It felt so realistic and organic to the characters. This was the first book that truly made me like Richard of York – until about the last 50ish pages when I felt like his character took a complete turn around and was back to what I did not like about him. Cecily on the other hand I absolutely admired and thought that she was so brave in the midst of what was going on around her.

A unique angle that I did not expect was the inclusion of the storyline of Joan of Arc and her connection throughout the novel to Cecily. While the author admits in the historical note that there is no evidence showing that these two women ever met they were certainly in each other’s vicinity and it did add to the weighty-ness of the novel and filled out Cecily’s character. I had never really thought of Joan of Arc set historically and this novel certainly helped solve that issue for me. Another thing that I found interesting (don’t quote me on this because I don’t have Daughter of York on hand) was that the beginning of this novel seemed very similar to the beginning of Daughter of York. I recollect Cecily coming to the rescue of her daughter Margaret’s nightmare following the death of Richard in both books. This would make sense with both of these novels taking off from the same point in history (one on the mother and one on the daughter) and it ties both of them together.

Overall I thought that this was a wonderful novel – not overly vilifying the Lancasters – and telling this wonderful story.

Anne Easter Smith also has written 3 other books about the War of the Roses: Daughter of York, The King’s Grace and A Rose for the Crown. You can visit the author’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?



You can also watch this video below of the author discussing this novel.

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).




You can check out the other stops on this tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours site.

 




Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! From all that I have read, everyone is really enjoying this book, and I cannot wait to read it!

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  2. Great review and insights, Heather. I enjoyed this novel immensely.

    And thanks for changing to pop up....I have tried to comment on your blog for days and have been blocked. I'm still having issues on my blog as well. grrr!

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  3. Thanks for the excerpt! I love being able to preview a novel! It just makes me more anxious to get it!

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  4. Great review, Heather. I'm looking forward to reading this one. I've not yet read any of the author's books but I'm going to make a point of reading her first novel this summer. The Wars of the Roses is one of my favourite time periods to read about.

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  5. It was definitely a Yorkist book.. those who are Lancastrian by nature may have a hard time with the characters. (raises hand!!) Richard annoyed me with his wishy-washyness.
    But, that said, I am glad I read it, and learned a lot about one of my favorite eras to read about. I still have to read her others, I wonder where to start?

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  6. I really loved this one -- the Joan touch was one of many that made Cecily feel very 'real' -- like a woman I might know. The research that went into this book makes me breathless -- quite astounding!

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  7. Colleen - I hope you enjoy it too.

    Joanne - You're welcome.

    Allison - I think that reading previews can really make it or break it for me. I hate when I can't see a preview.

    Melissa - I hadn't read anything WotR until this year so it is still very new to me, but her books are very good.

    Marie - I haven't found my "side" yet - I keep being "wishy washy" myself haha.

    Audra - The research in her books is just awesome!

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  8. I haven't read any books from the Lancastrian side, can you recommend one or two for me?

    Excellent review Heather :)

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  9. Jenny - I would highly recommend Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham. You can find my review at this link if you would like to check it out - http://themaidenscourt.blogspot.com/2011/01/book-review-queen-of-last-hopes-by.html. I think that is the only one I have read from the Lancaster POV.

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