Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: QUEEN BY RIGHT by Anne Easter Smith

“Proud Cis” has been a long standing curiosity for me in historical fiction novels. There really is not much out there on just her even though she is the mother of kings. I was elated to participate in the Anne Easter Smith blog tour. Cecily Neville also nick named “Proud Cis” was one of the core people in The War of the Roses. I have decided with finishing this novel that The War of the Roses is for sure my favorite time period to read about. There is a reason the war was also called The Cousins’ War and it is because it was literally all the royal cousins fighting that triggered off like an avalanche back when Richard II was murdered. Since so many important people were tied to the war it makes for some good reads to see all the different perspectives on the war. What made this one different from other War of the Roses novels is that it was not just another novel that focuses on the future Edward IV of England but instead the focus is on his mother the duchess of York, “The Rose of Raby” Cecily Neville.

Just trying to lay out Cecily’s pedigree and family ties is impossible to cover in one book review. I wish I could but that is a book all by itself. One key piece of info on her I had not known was her father Ralph Neville 1st Earl of Westmorland was married twice. First it was to Margaret de Stafford with nine children, second to Cecily’s mother Joan Beaufort. Joan had a whopping fourteen children with the earl and it was even said to be a love match. I was really surprised when I found out Joan’s parents were none other than John of Gaunt and later wife Katherine Swynford. I really enjoyed that even in a large family Cecily found her individuality and as a child was a head strong little tom boy that held her father’s affection from the very beginning. Joan had even said she was “spoilt by her father”. When she was around nine years old the newly orphaned Duke of York came to the Neville household under her father’s care. Of course her father was hoping to get York into the family by marriage and Cecily made the perfect fit.

The two could not have been a more perfect match and I am genuinely in love with the realistic personalities Anne conveyed in this novel. Cecily with her passion for Jeanne d’Arc and Richard with his need for recognition at court, the pair were the stuff movies and legends are made of. They really seemed an unstoppable force at court but fate would throw the couple to and fro in a violent storm that became England in the years leading up to The War of the Roses. Richard was such a loveable character and Cecily was so smart to recognize a good man when she saw one, I won’t give spoilers but the marriage proposal to Cecily is a riot. Richard it seemed had an infectious laugh or “neigh” and each time it was mentioned I found myself snickering to myself. I have to admit there was one that I quoted below that made me laugh so hard it made my stomach hurt.

“A neigh of laughter ricocheted off the rafters of the old great hall, abruptly halting conversation in the rest of the room”. At the Wedding

Happiness between the couple came to a crossroads when the case of the French woman Jeanne d’Arc came to English authority. York was involved with the proceedings since he was a high ranking Duke and I have to admit Cecily’s link to Jeanne was well tied into the novel. Leave it to Proud Cis to show genuine compassion where others had failed miserably. Life for the Yorks even after Jeanne was gone was hard but they say a rose that blossoms in diversity is the rarest most beautiful of its kind and Cecily would become that rose. I admire the fact that the couple did what most couples did in the face of adversity they held onto their love and took whatever the future threw at them even if it was The War of the Roses.

5/5 Beautiful this one should be a movie, a complicated movie but a very very good one. I was kind of sad that in the beginning it is Cecily reliving her memories after she finds out Richard is dead. But this is a classic case of you know what happens but it is how it gets there that really matters. This one I have to add to my top War of the Roses picks for so many different reasons. One a very unique main character, two Cecily and Richards love is compelling to say the least, and finally just because it really was that good of a novel. Queen by Right was superbly written and now I know exactly why Anne Easter Smith is so widely popular. I would highly recommend this to newbies of War of the Roses because you cannot go wrong with the very point where history took a change in course and this one must be recommended to everyone not just newbies to the period because if you love a good love story you will really enjoy this one.
  • FTC~This novel was sent to me by the publisher for review. 
  • R~Rating for sexual references and violence.
Queen By Right: A Novel
The King's Grace: A Novel
A Rose for the Crown: A Novel
Daughter of York: A Novel


    1. A new one for me. Thanks for this post.

    2. Great review! Putting this one on my TBR list.

    3. This isn't a part of history I've actually read much about believe it or not and it sounds like a great read!

    4. Mystica, this was my first read of hers and really she is one of the best HF has to offer. Richard of York won me over for sure.

      Rosanne, I have to admit the only reason it took me so long to actually read one of her novels is they are chunkster books. Chunky or not it was so worth it because now every time I read about Richard or Cecily I will always attach them to this novel. I am so glad I went for it.

      Amused, War of the Roses is a GREAT time period by far my favorite. There are so many people tied into it you really can not get tired of it because there is always a new person to read. I hope you check it out you will be absolutely hooked.

    5. I'm reading this now and just blown away by the amount of research and detail! Can't wait for the arrival of Jeanne d’Arc in the story as she's one of my favorite heroines. So pleased you rated it so high -- makes me even more eager to finish!

    6. Audra, I was completely blown away by her research too. Anne really knows what she is talking about. Ohhh you will love how Jeanne plays into it all. I really enjoyed it and normally I despise long books but I guess if you can do big ones you can not go wrong with Anne Easter Smith. Enjoy the read Audra!


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