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Historical Fiction Review – Queen By Right

Queen By Right by Anne Easter Smith


Review by Bruce


In “Queen By Right” author Anne Easter Smith relates the under-appreciated story of Cecily Neville, wife of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and mother of two British monarchs, Edward IV and Richard III. As Smith points out, Lady Cecily is the ancestor of all subsequent British monarchs from Henry VIII to the present Elizabeth II.  The duchess, known to her contemporaries as the Rose of Raby and Proud Cis, was an outspoken, brash, intelligent woman who asserted herself into her husband’s confidence, often earning the respect and sometimes scorn of her peers.

The novel begins with 9 year old Cecily’s betrothal to her father’s 13 yr old ward, Richard Plantagenet. This was a risky arrangement as Richard’s father had been executed as a traitor for asserting his legitimate right to the crown and the slightest political misstep could condemn both Richard and Cecily.  But as it turns out, the two children are instantly smitten with one another and thus begins Smith’s epic love story. Make no mistake, this novel is a love story first but Smith remains faithful to telling the full account of Cecily’s life and keeps the historic narrative moving at a brisk pace.

It is the history that drew me to this story. In my opinion, the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses is the most interesting time in British history. “Queen By Right” begins during the Hundred Years War and ends with the War of the Roses so it was the perfect opportunity for me as a fan of British monarch history to immerse myself in my favorite literary genre and my favorite time period to boot. Smith didn’t disappoint. While her novel is “chick lit” there was enough history to keep me hooked.

I entered the novel with some trepidation however. As a pro-Yorkist, I was somewhat leery that Smith would not portray the Lancasters as the dirty dogs that they were or that she might illustrate some of my favorite White Roses in less than flattering fashion. Let me assure you that the White Rose blooms bright in “Queen By Right”. I recommend this novel to those who would like to learn about this episode in British history and “Queen By Right” serves as an excellent complement or segue into Sharon Kay Penman’s “The Sunne in Slendour” which is an even better novel that focuses primarily on Cecily Neville’s sons.  Grab a copy of both novels, you’ll be glad you did.

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2 Responses to “Historical Fiction Review – Queen By Right”

  1. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    I wasn’t planning on reading this one…I’m a little burned out on English monarchy, but your excellent review changed my mind!

  2. Bruce says:

    Anna, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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