Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: THWARTED QUEEN, by Cynthia Sally Haggard

 THWARTED QUEEN, by Cynthia Sally Haggard, is the story of Cecylee Neville, Duchess of York, and mother of two kings; Edward IV and Richard III.  Comprised of four books into one, spanning over almost a century, it’s a recounting of the War of the Roses seen through Cecylee’s perspective. 

Cecylee was the youngest child in her family and as such, her mother, Countess Joan de Beaufort, delayed the marriage to Richard Duke of York for well longer than customary.  This allowed Cecylee to revel in her youth while strengthening and cultivating her mind in all realms that were usually only privy to men; A definite asset when she later married Richard. 

Their union was based mainly on the relentless campaign to restore England’s rightful heir to the throne-much rather than love. Cecylee, would forever pay the price for having dabbled in a bout of romantic infatuation outside of her marriage; resulting to serious consequences for the future of England.

Despite obstacles beginning with  Queen Marguerite of Anjou (‘the bitch of Anjou’)all the way to her dreadful daughter-in law Elisabeth Woodville (‘the Serpent’), Cecylee managed to run a tight ruling in her own right that commanded and paved the way for her youngest son, Richard, to becoming king.  

Thwarted Queen is a captivating read right from the start.  The author’s smooth writing style and ability to capture even the slightest detail lingering within the silent moments is what renders this tale even more breathtaking than the history itself.  In addition, the battles, the conflicts- this whole epic time is neither too much nor too dry; a perfect blend of history, saga and romance with Cecylee at the forefront of it all.  

Bonus: There is an extensive list of characters and their history at the end of the book. Also most enjoyable was the author’s explanation for choice and time of events, and creative reasons for adding and/or modifying aspects within the book. 

Extremely interesting and cleverly written-I was completely enthralled by this read!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


THE QUEEN'S VOW, based on the life and times of Isabel of Castille is a fascinating read.  Destined to be queen, Isabel’s path towards this goal was never easy.  When Isabel lost her father at a young age, she was left to care for her mentally ill mother as well as her younger brother.  Her older step brother then automatically became king…and that’s basically when all the problems began.  From his cruel and unfaithful wife who tried everything to get Isabel banished; to the birthing of an illegitimate child that would, for the longest time, become a thorn in the path of Isabel’s becoming queen- let’s just say that her rise to ‘queendom’ was not handed to her graciously.

I loved reading about how she met her beau, the handsome Fernando,who would one day become her husband and king.  I loved everything about this love story.  Their rise to a duo reign was most fascinating.  Even with Fernando by her side though, Isabel was a queen in her own right; a woman with a mind of her own and a heart of gold.  Some would argue that at a certain point in the book Isabel became ruthless for the sake of Christendom, through the Crusades and eviction of non-Christians.  But when one thinks of the times and the narrow-mindedness of the people back then, it seemed to me that Isabel showed signs of being most avant-garde in her relationships with non-Christians. Isabel loved her people and the good of her country always came first- but as history has proved itself, this was too often guided by the dictates of religion.  

The Queen’s Vow  contains all that is appealing to me in historical fiction, with the right blend of history, love, internal and external battles, spicy historical details within family relations- and most importantly a heroine to be admired for strength of character mixed with a beautiful caring soul.  Queen Isabel, who we all learned about as the queen who allowed Christopher Columbus to set sail for America comes to life in this excellent book.  She is real, she is strong and she is amazing!
Isabel of Castille; my ‘new’ favourite queen!
Next on my list,  I am definitely reading the continuation of this story in Gortner’s previous book: