It’s a pleasure to take part on the BlogTour The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien.
About the Author
Sunday Times bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history. Today she has sold over 250,000 copies of her books in the UK and lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels about the forgotten women of history.
About the book
England, 1459: Cecily, Duchess of York, is embroiled in a plot to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne. But when the Yorkists are defeated at the Battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.
Cecily can only watch as her lands are torn apart and divided up by the ruthless Queen Marguerite. From the towers of her prison in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit – one that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King of England.
This is a story of heartbreak, ambition and treachery, of one woman’s quest to claim the throne during the violence and tragedy of the Wars of the Roses.
At the beginning we meet a woman who is forced to ensure the safety of herself and her offspring as her husband and elder sons run from the battle at Ludford Bridge and leave her to deal with the consequences of their actions.
I really enjoyed the way O’Brien wrote the story for the majority in correspondence form. Letters written by Cecily and to Cecily. She captures the complex familial and political machinations, the threats and the constantly changing political landscape of the monarchy.
Using the story of one woman to show the power behind the throne, the complexity of the wars that determined the path of our history, and simultaneously give us the rich and fascinating turmoil that gripped and ripped the country apart.The Yorkists and the Lancastrians, the bloodline of the Plantagenets and the retrospectively named infamous War of the Roses. Proving that actual history is better than any fictional historical novel.
As O’Brien mentions herself she doesn’t delve into the disappearance of the two princes in the tower. She stops short of that with Cecily’s approval and support for her son Richard III. I actually found the last few chapters quite intriguing. They speak more to her ruthlessness, her need to assert her own birthright and that of her children, and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to maintain her reputation and position. One wonders is a push like that or affirmation all it took for a man driven by ambition to commit a crime as yet unsolved.
I think this was O’Brien at her best, perhaps even her best yet. The way it was constructed really highlighted the weaknesses and strengths of the characters, and the fickle nature of the beast called power, which truly does corrupt. I really enjoyed the style the author chose and the ambiguity of the last few chapters. An excellent read by O’Brien yet again.