I love all historical fiction written around the Wars of the Roses. Two of my most read books are Anya Seton’s Katherine and Sharon Penman’s Sunne in Splendour. Now comes Annie Garthwaite to fill the gap between those two great historical novels.
Cecily tells the story of Cecily Neville who played an influential role in the beginning of the War between the rival families of York and Lancaster. The story begins with her witnessing the burning of Joan of Arc in Rouen as the young wife of Richard, Duke of York and takes us right through to the crowning of her son as Edward IV.
The story isn’t as emotionally gripping as the two earlier novels but Cecily isn’t that type of character. She’s proud, hot tempered, ambitious and pushes her husband to fight for what she feels is his rightful place. We see the couple at odds when her ambition comes between them but they always reconcile before long. Although this isn’t by any means a romance, the love between Cecily and Richard is a strong part of the story.
This is the story of two strong female characters, Cecily on one side and the Queen on the other. It is sometimes easy to overlook the role that women played in important events. The author makes if very clear that the role of women is very different to that of men but still a vital part of how politics was conducted at that time.
I loved this book and am sure that anyone who has an interest in this period or historical fiction will love it too. The only thing I wanted was an appendix to let us know what happened next. I had to resort to Wikipedia to find out that Cecily lived on for many years to see the founding of the Tudor Dynasty.
This is book 11 of my #20booksofsummer and I read it thanks to Net Galley and the publishers, Viking, in exchange for an honest review.