Tag Archives: Richard III

Back by popular demand…

CecyleeHeadressLady Cecylee is delighted to announce that the ENTIRE VERSION of her memoirs are again available on Amazon in both Kindle and Print formats. Lady C. says:

“I marvel at how many folk can read in this 21st century of ours, and I am very pleased to offer my memoirs at a good price to those of you who own those strange mirrors whereupon you can peruse by sliding your finger across its surface. For those of you who prefer their reading material in the form popularized by Master Caxton, I am pleased to tell you that I am able to offer it again for $18.99. ‘Tis dearer than I would like, but the printers at Amazon assure me that 478 pages is expensive to produce, costing them $16.45. Therefore, good people, I hope you will understand that my coffers will not be overflowing from the sales of this book. ‘Tis not my doing, and I am not happy about this, but my scribe says indeed, it must be so. For Amazon must be obeyed.

To find out more about Lady Cecylee’s memoirs, please click on the frontispiece below: ThwartedQueenComplete

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THE YORKIST AGE by Paul Murray Kendall

TheYorkistAgePaul Murray Kendall’s THE YORKIST AGE is an extremely well-researched book that involves a close reading of the Paston letters as well as wonderful nuggets about food, cleanliness, German traders and various festivals. However, it should be noted that it was first published in 1962, and so much of his incomparable scholarship has been superseded by fifty years of research on this period.


However, if you want a vivid and readable account of England in the years between 1461 and 1485, this would be a good book to start with, beforeCopper-alloy_boar_mount_from_the_Thames_foreshore_(London) going on to read more modern treatments. Four stars.

Images: Dunstable Swan (left) Richard III’s boar (right), livery badges both made in 1400s.TheDunstableSwan

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News & Notes: My blog tour ends Friday!


To end with a bang, I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway. Valued at $18.99, this paperback will be yours for FREE if you enter the giveaway.

Click below to enter for your FREE SIGNED copy of the paperback version of THWARTED QUEEN (all 495 pages).

Good luck and have a wonderful week!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Thwarted Queen

by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Giveaway ends March 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Who is more handsome? Take Lady Cecylee’s poll…

Copper-alloy_boar_mount_from_the_Thames_foreshore_(London)Lady Cecylee insisted on posting today… (I wonder why?)

My dear readers and loyal friends,

It has recently come to my notice that my long-lost son Richard has been found. Now that you can all see what my darling boy actually looked like, I thought to play another Wars of the Roses game. This is not Leicester vs. York, but rather, King Richard III vs. that craven upstart, one Harry Tudor, self-styled King Henry VII. Ladies, whom do you think is more handsome?

The face of English King Richard III Younghenry7


Please note that I made every effort to be impartial by choosing a portrait of Tudor as a YOUNG man. Please take part and my scribe will post the results!


[polldaddy poll=6880674]

Image is of a copper boar, which was carried by a supporter of my youngest son Richard, whose badge was the blue boar, or the blanc sanglier.

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Win your FREE copy of TWO MURDERS REAPED by Midnight on the Feast of the Epiphany!

CecyleeHeaddressSmileSign up on her ladyship’s list, answer a few questions to assure her ladyship you are not a robot, and receive your FREE copy.

Naturally, her ladyship will guard your answers, – as well as your email addresses – by locking them in her bejeweled casket. Or whatever one does these days.

[wp_email_capture_form listid=’1′ template=’1′ displayerror=’yes’ submittext=’http://spunstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/LadyCecyleeButton.jpg’]

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THE FOUNDING is the first book in a series of thirty-four, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, that deals with the Morland family, who come from York, England. This novel starts with a marriage, when the Morland heir, Robert, is betrothed to a dower-less young girl, Eleanor Courtenay. Why would a rich family want to ally themselves to this penniless young girl? Because her dearest friend is Eleanor Beauchamp (1408-1467), a daughter of the Earl of Warwick, and recently married to Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (1406-1455).

Throughout this novel, Ms. Harrod-Eagles uses the technique of omniscient narration, which allows her to switch points of view effectively and efficiently without disturbing the reader:


Robert cleared his throat, but he could not speak. Eleanor grew more impatient, in her misery, to have done with it.

Eleanor starts off the novel at the age of eighteen as a terrified (but brave) bride, and at the end of it is a seventy-year-old monarch, who rules with a rod of iron (mixed in with some love.) THE FOUNDING encompasses the years 1434-1486, which anyone with a historical bent will realize includes all of the Wars of the Roses. The Morlands starts out on the side of the Lancastrians, because they have pledged their allegiance to the Duke of Somerset, who later becomes a great champion for the Lancastrian Queen Marguerite d’Anjou. However, Eleanor has secretly been in love with Richard, Duke of York, and thus manages to see to it that the family slips over into the Yorkist camp. This works out wonderfully well for the family when the Yorks are in the ascendant during the years 1461-1485. But the novel ends with the death of the last Yorkist king Richard III, and we are left with the cold winds of change beckoning in a new, unpleasant, un-English monarch in the shape of Henry Tudor, who becomes King Henry VII of England.  What will become of the Morlands now? We will have to read the next novel to find out. Five stars.

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THIS TIME by Joan Szechtman

Joan Szechtman is one of those novelists who has such a good idea, that you wish you’d had it yourself. The idea of Richard III being wrenched from a near-death experience and deposited in 21st-century Portland, Oregon is mind-blowing in all its implications. What is Richard really like? How will he get on in a democracy? What will he think of the 21st century? And in light of what he learns, what sense is he going to make of the life he left behind, and some of the truly awful things he did?

But the novel didn’t really answer these questions, at least not in a deeply resonant way. Why?

The major problem as I see it is the quality of the writing. What the author needed to do was to plunge the reader into Richard’s skin, and make his experiences viscerally real. That would have involved many more sensory descriptions, as well as much more interior monologue.

I think the reason why the novel didn’t work is because so much of what happens to Richard is presented as a summary, almost as if we were reading a newspaper account. But newspaper reportage is not the best way of gripping the reader’s attention. Nor is summary.

Although Ms Szechtman made a few nods to the need to capture what Richard’s bewilderment at being in the 21st century must have been like, it wasn’t enough to be realistic. The storyline wasn’t believable. It just didn’t make sense that Richard, of all people, should learn to trust 21st-century strangers so completely that he married one of them and because CEO of a company in the space of one year! I know this book is meant to be a fantasy, but each book has its own internal logic. In the case of THIS TIME, the author violated that logic.

One way to have dealt with these problems would have been to make Richard far less active in the 21st century, to give him more time to speak about his past, in particular to paint a vivid picture of the crisis of the spring of 1483, when his brother King Edward IV suddenly died, and of the events leading up to the disappearance of his nephews. That would have been fascinating.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear. FAMILY SPLINTERS is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

THE WHITE QUEEN is the story of Elizabeth Woodville (1437-1492), Queen of Edward IV, mother of the Little Princes in the Tower, and also of Elizabeth of York, who married Henry Tudor after he defeated Richard III at Bosworth, and founded the Tudor dynasty.

The novel starts in 1464, when Elizabeth is sent by her family to beg the King for his favor. There has been a war. Her family was on the losing side. She has nothing to give her two sons because their dead father’s estates have been confiscated. She is chosen to go before the King, because she is a beauty and the young monarch is known to appreciate pretty women.

The rest, as they say, is history. Edward IV secretly weds Elizabeth on May 1, 1464. Even more remarkably, he keeps his promises to her by publicly declaring their union in September of that year, horrifying his counselors, his friends, his family, and most of all, his mother Cecylee, Duchess of York, who does all that she can to disturb the marriage.

Philippa Gregory is such a talented writer and this novel is an easy and enjoyable read. Like others, I did not feel that the extended references to Melusina helped the story. A few details here and there, slipped into the text, would have suited me better.

But the real problem with this novel is the ending. It ends in April 1485, before Elizabeth’s nemesis and brother-in-law Richard III is defeated at Bosworth, before her eldest daughter marries the victor and becomes Queen of England, and before Elizabeth’s own disgrace and exile in 1487, and her subsequent death at Bermondsey Abbey in 1492. Philippa Gregory has created such a compelling character, I was sorry to see her abandon the novel so early, depriving us all of the pleasure of hearing what Elizabeth would have said about these events.

–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels.  She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear. HE MUST BE SOMEONE is  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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THE RED QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

THE RED QUEEN is the story of Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), mother of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond (1457-1509), who defeated Richard III at Bosworth and reigned as King Henry VII from 1485 until his death in 1509. (Margaret herself died two months after her son.)

The novel begins in 1453, when Margaret is about to go to court for the first time to formally dissent from her pre-contracted marriage to the son of a disgraced nobleman, so that she becomes available to make a better match. The hour is late, but nine-year-old Lady Margaret is on her knees at prayer, having a vision of herself as her heroine Joan of Arc. When everything is spoiled by her mother’s maid coming in and insisting that she go to bed, for they have to rise early on the morrow.

Philippa Gregory is such a talented writer, whose historical novels are easy and entertaining to read. But she has surpassed herself in this novel, for the voice of Lady Margaret is truly remarkable: determined, shrewd, strong, certain and unconsciously funny:

It cannot be right that the York princess is a favorite at the court, the darling of her uncle, the sweetheart of her people, and I thrown down. God cannot really want these women to lead peaceful, happy lives, while my son is in exile.

The whole novel is infused with that voice, and it makes fascinating reading. If you have not read this novel and you love the period of the Wars of the Roses, then you are in for a treat.

–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for HE MUST BE SOMEONE,  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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Book Review: A ROSE FOR THE CROWN by Anne Easter Smith

The best way of telling a well-worn story is to freshen it up by introducing a new point of view. Phillippa Gregory did this brilliantly with the OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, the Anne Boleyn story told from the point of view of her sister Mary. In her debut novel A ROSE FOR THE CROWN, Anne Easter Smith has told the Richard III story from the point of view of his sweetheart Kate Haute, who was also the mother of his illegitimate children.

Ms. Smith does a wonderful job of drawing the reader in by portraying her humble heroine as an outspoken and lively girl who tries the patience of her parents, and has no idea how lovely she is. We follow Kate Bywood from her humble home in Kent, to her adoption by the Hautes of Igtham Mote, through two unhappy marriages, to her meeting with the teenaged Richard, Duke of Gloucester (who later becomes King Richard III), to the three children she bore him, to the end of their affair when he married Anne Neville in 1472.

The best recommendation I can make for this book is that it is hard to put down. Ms. Smith has done meticulous research, but by focusing on humble folk, has worn her learning lightly. I also want to commend Joanna Maslowska Maher, who did the cover design for Simon & Schuster/Touchstone. It is one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen, and sets the stage for the treat that is within.

–Cynthia Haggard writes novels.  She is currently seeking representation for HE MUST BE SOMEONE,  a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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