Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith

From the Back Cover:

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, heroine of one of history’s greatest love stories, and Anne Easter Smith's 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.

My Thoughts:

I have long been fascinated by the period in England's history known as the War of the Roses, but I am very choosy when reading about it because one of the best books I've ever read is Sharon Kay Penman's The Sunne in Splendour, and other books tend to pale in comparison. (And as a Yorkist, I don't like anything that skews Lancaster!) But I am not aware that any other historical fiction novel is devoted to Cecily Neville, and I say it's about time she finally got one!

Cecily's story is a great one, and Anne has included an informative author's note and an insightful interview, from which I was surprised to learn how little is really known about this woman who was at the center of the War of the Roses, counterpart to Margaret of Anjou, and mother to two kings of England: one of its most popular and one of its most reviled. And as I was reading I was struck by how closely related these people were who were on opposite sides. That point was really brought home for me in this book, and the events made all the more awful. They're all cousins! And in-laws! It's crazy. Cecily's life was never without excitement, drama, or tragedy of some sort. And Cecily has to navigate all of it with the poise and propriety befitting the duchess of the most powerful duke in the kingdom. Of course, when she and her beloved duke are all alone--that's a different matter altogether! Underneath all of the turmoil and treachery lies a love so sweet and so strong, it's the one powerful constant in a lifetime of changing fortunes.

Cecily tells her own story as she looks back on her life during a period of grief and reflection shortly after Richard's death. I personally would have enjoyed the novel much more if it had not been written in flashback format. In some books time switches work very well, but too much back and forth in historical fiction confuses me. Every time Cecily came back to the present, I was jarred out of the story zone. I would have preferred a straight story as it happened. But I'm one of those people who finds flashbacks distracting, most readers probably won't mind it. And it in no way keeps me from recommending Queen by Right.

I think Anne has done a great job of putting the pieces of history together in a very realistic and gripping story of who Cecily Neville could have been, crafted around the events that defined her life in vivid period detail, and there were some really intense moments, too. Anne's vision of Cecily really does justice to a woman who deserves to be better remembered by history, and who deserves this thick, compelling, and poignant dramatic examination of her life. Next up Anne will continue her York series, and pay homage to another important woman in Edward IV's life: his "merriest" mistress, Jane Shore. I'm looking forward to it!

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Queen by Right is on a blog tour!
Visit Historical Fiction Virtual Tours and check out the other stops along the tour!
And don't forget to enter the Giveaway!

*Please note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. Thanks for the review Jenny! Will have to add, yet another book, to my WL. The thing about all them being related and the jealousy it created is fascinating.

  2. Lovely review -- just started this one and am enjoying it although I know next to nothing about this era historically -- thank goodness she has so many charts and lists to help me out!


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