Book Review of Thwarted Queen hosted by Pump Up Your Books
Rose of Raby: Books 1 and 2
The Gilded Cage: Book 3
Two Murders Reaped: Book 4
by Cynthia Sally Haggard
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.
Richard urged his palfrey into a gallop so that he could catch up with Gloucester, riding east to the city. What is he going to do now, thought Richard, following Gloucester along the Strand towards Saint Paul’s Cathedral. As soon as they got to the churchyard, Gloucester vaulted off his horse, threw his reins to a groom, and mounted the steps of Saint Paul’s Cross. Richard followed.
The Londoners were enjoying themselves in the spring sunshine, it being that time of day after the main meal when people come out to pay visits, shop, and enjoy a fine afternoon stroll. In one corner of Saint Paul’s churchyard, a number of well-dressed citizens fingered the leather covers and the crisp pages of those new-fangled printed books. There were goldsmiths and silversmiths. There was a woman selling spring flowers. There was even a horse merchant, whose restless charges stamped their feet, tossed their heads, and added a pungent odor to the scene.
Just outside the door of the church stood a group of London merchants. The soft leather of their boots and gloves displayed their wealth, as did the exotic and colorful material of their robes, their jewel-encrusted collars, and the many rings on their fingers. They were outdone only by their wives, who wore as many necklaces, rings, and brooches as possible crammed onto their costumes. Richard bowed to one beldame passing by. She had so much cloth in her headdress, her husband must belong to the clothier’s guild.
As Gloucester arrived at Saint Paul’s Cross, the people immediately began to gather, separating Richard from his mentor. “Good Duke Humphrey!” they shouted. “‘Tis Good Duke Humphrey!”
Gloucester bowed. A tapster from a nearby alehouse ran up to hand him a mug of ale.
He looks years younger, thought Richard, glancing at his friend basking in the approval of the crowd. How ironic that it is the people of England who respect him, not his aristocratic peers.
The crowd gathered around Saint Paul’s Cross, buzzing with excited anticipation as the horses neighed.
“I wonder what he’s got to say,” said the bookseller.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said the flower seller. “Most of them fancy people never bother with the likes of us.”
“Duke Humphrey, he’s good,” said the horse merchant. “He talks to us. Tells us what’s going on.”
“He’s become a champion of good governance,” said a well-dressed gentleman.
Duke Humphrey held up a hand, and the crowd fell silent.
“My friends, I have come here today to tell you about a piece of treachery. Nay, I can scarce believe it myself, and if any of you had told me this, I would think I had had a bad hangover from the night before.”
Some youngsters in the crowd erupted into laughter. Their elders grew watchful and silent.
Richard accepted a tankard of beer and stood by Gloucester. He looked at the faces tilted up before him. They don’t seem overawed, he thought, sipping his beer. This country is not like France, where the common people grovel before the aristocrats. These people seem to know that their voices count for something.
Gloucester raised his hand again. “Would you believe it, but in return for Margaret of Anjou, the Earl of Suffolk negotiated a marriage settlement in which we give away Maine and Anjou to the French.”
The crowd recoiled. “No!” they shouted.
Richard grew uneasy.
“Yes, good people. Yes: I am sorry to tell you so, but there it is.”
“What does this mean for trade, sir?” asked a man, a fashionably dressed woman on his arm.
“You lose the revenues from the counties of Maine and Anjou,” replied Duke Humphrey. “You lose revenues from wine.”
“Is our wine trade going to dry up?” asked one merchant with a red nose.
“Not unless we lose Bordeaux. So far, we are just talking about Maine and Anjou.”
The crowd responded with a harsh bark of laughter.
“But I can tell you,” continued Gloucester, “that the loss of Maine and Anjou means the loss of goodly fruit.”
“No more pears!” exclaimed a young girl with golden hair hanging out from an upstairs window. “But that’s my favorite fruit.” Her high voice sailed over the noise of the crowd.
“No more Anjou pears, madam,” said Gloucester sweeping her a low bow.
“Jacinda, do not shout out of the window. It is not ladylike.” A woman with an elaborate horned headdress appeared and gently pulled the child away. “Please accept my apologies, my lord Duke,” she called down. “She is very free.”
“Do not worry, madam,” said Gloucester bowing again with a flourish. “You have a charming daughter.”
Applause and cheers greeted this remark.
“What about the landowners of Maine and Anjou, my lord?” asked a merchant dressed in fine crimson silk, rubies winking from the collar around his neck. “What about their lands and holdings?”
“A good question.” Gloucester held up his hand to still the whispers and murmurings of the crowd. “They will be obliged to give up their lands. They will be forced to come home with nothing and start afresh.”
The crowd erupted into boos and murmurs, which grew louder. Richard looked at his friend.
“I see you look puzzled, good people,” remarked Gloucester, as the restless crowd grew silent. “Let me spell out the terms of the Treaty of Tours by which our king gained a wife. By this treaty, we give up Maine and Anjou. In return, we get exactly—nothing. That’s right. Nothing. The queen did not even bring a dowry with her. Can you believe it? Can you believe that Suffolk would be so stupid, so asinine, so treacherous, as to throw away something that we gained in a fair fight for nothing in return?”
Their roar threw Richard backward. He moved closer to Gloucester. “They’re getting upset,” he hissed.
Gloucester ignored him. “And all for a queen worth not ten marks,” he remarked, holding up his tankard of ale. “I feel personally betrayed.”
“We are betrayed!” roared the crowd. “A queen worth not ten marks!” They turned and hurried down Ludgate Hill in the direction of Westminster, shouting as they went.
“What are they going to do?” asked Richard.
Gloucester chuckled. “They are going to Westminster Palace, to shout insults at the queen.”
Born 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. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at: http://spunstories.com/
ROSE OF RABY is the first and second books in a series of four about Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), mother of Richard III and Edward IV, Queen by Right and Abbess. This tale of Cecylee’s girlhood and love-affair will appeal to readers of YA novels. Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. But does Cecylee wish to marry the boy her father has picked out for her? Does she wish to marry at all? For at the age of ten, she has experienced too much violence at the hands of men. Several years later, when Cecylee is twenty-six years old and the wife of Richard, Duke of York, a mysterious young man rides into her life. Who is he? And what is he doing in Rouen? By turns baffled and enchanted, Cecylee finds herself confronted by an intriguing challenge.
This book is very interesting. It is so sad to think that by the time these girls were the age of my daughter, they were frequently married with several children. Cecylee was raised to think she was better than others because of her birthright. This caused her to be frequently be cold toward others, when in fact it was the result of her mother’s loss of her children that resulted in her treasuring Cecylee and giving her too much freedom for the era. Also she finds herself turned by a pretty face and compliments, even though her husband is more generous and loving than most during this time period. What a difficult life for a woman. I’m not sure I could have born it with as much grace.
THE GILDED CAGE is the third in a series of four books about Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), mother of Richard III and Edward IV, Queen by Right and Abbess. The tale of Richard of York’s political career, and its tragic impact upon his wife Cecylee, will intrigue readers who enjoy political novels. It is 1445, and Cecylee is turning thirty. She and Richard are waiting for the new Queen of England to arrive from Paris. Everyone remarks on how close the Yorks are. Theirs seems a successful marriage, for Cecylee is constantly at her husband’s side, providing him with political counsel as well as comfort. But matters are not as happy as they seem. Richard is devastated by her affair, but doesn’t lock her up. Instead, he keeps her firmly by his side and takes revenge by marrying their eldest daughter Nan off when she is only seven. This decision, done only for political gain, costs Cecylee her happiness. Set during the end of the Hundred Years War and the beginning of the Wars of the Roses we see Richard inherit the political mantle of his mentor Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and become 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.
Thrust front and center of a national scandal and fight, Cecylee proves that she is more than a pretty face with her quick thinking saving the life of her husband on two occasions. Still we see behind the beautiful façade that they present to realize that these are two flawed individuals who did the best they could and tried as hard as they could to love one another and serve their country. I wonder how she would have done in a different era when she would have had the ability to use her intelligence and power to her advantage.
TWO MURDERS REAPED is the fourth in a series of four books about Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), mother of Richard III and Edward IV, Queen by Right and Abbess. To those of you who enjoyed Anne Easter Smith’s historical novel about Cecily, TWO MURDERS REAPED uncovers the last thirty-five years of Cecylee’s life. It is in October, 1459. Cecylee is forty-four years old and has been abandoned at Ludlow Castle by her husband, Richard Duke of York, who has fled to elude capture. Yet Cecylee calmly walks down to the marketplace in Rouen, and waits for the Lancastrian army. What happens next is something that Cecylee could not have imagined in her worst nightmare. After the murder of her husband, the House of York regroups under her bastard son Edward, who wins two decisive battles, and becomes King Edward IV. Cecylee is in her element. As the young king’s mother, her views and opinions carry weight. But Cecylee’s contentment does not last long. Edward makes a disastrous marriage to Élisabeth Woodville, the poor widow of a Lancastrian knight, thus displacing Cecylee. Titling herself Queen by Right, she refuses to move out of the Queen’s apartments. Worse follows. Cecylee loathes her coldly beautiful daughter-in-law, and nicknames her The Serpent. One day, she spills a secret that should have remained locked in her heart, and the whole world turns against her.
The loss of her children and the rapid changes in the rule of England during the final book are explored from the view of how Cecylee impacted these changes. The twists and turns are too numerous to mention, but show how one person can impact the rule of a nation. One line in the book talks about how women can impact men despite being subservient during this era. This book is a prime example of how that can occur.
I love reading historical fiction and the level of attention to detail in these books is extordinary. Ms. Haggard has done exceptional research to bring the story of Cecylee to life. I give these books 4 out of 5 stars.
This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.