Queen By Right

Written by Anne Easter Smith
Review by Jane Kessler

Anne Easter Smith has written three well-researched and entertaining books featuring the children and grandchildren of Richard, Duke of York and his duchess, Cecily Neville. In this, her 4th book, she focuses on Cecily and Richard themselves, fascinating subjects in their own right. Cecily, known as the Rose of Raby and Proud Cis, was the mother of two kings (Edward IV and the notorious Richard III), the great-grandmother of Henry VIII, and is the ancestor of all subsequent English monarchs.

The novel begins in 1461 after the deaths of Richard of York and his and Cecily’s second son, Edmund, at the Battle of Wakefield. Cecily looks back on her life with Richard and the events leading up to that fateful day. The story spans her childhood at Raby Castle, where she grew up with Richard, who was her father’s ward, through the events of the Wars of the Roses. While it appears to have been a loving and fruitful marriage (she bore him 13 children), it was not easy. Because of Richard’s lineage as a descendant of Edward III, he had a legitimate claim to the English throne, and was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses. Cecily helped her husband navigate the unstable political climate, in addition to her duties as duchess, managing homes and raising children.

Anne Easter Smith is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Although much research went into this book, she seems to effortlessly bring the 15th century and Cecily Neville to life. The reader experiences not only the turbulent political events of the times, but sees the human cost of these events, through the eyes of a wife and mother. She includes a historical note explaining where she took liberty with facts in the story, something I always appreciate.