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Thursday, May 24, 2012

"The Twarted Queen" by Cynthia Haggard~Cecylee Neville & The War of the Roses

This is an extensive and nicely rendered study of Cecylee Neville the young woman who was made to be Queen and wife of Henry IV of England. It is the story of the historic mother of Kings and Dukes, and the Abbess of a Benedictine Order.  Also written as  historical fiction and able to be enjoyed by all readers, the book is largely the tale of the War of the Roses. It is written in such a way that I finally understand that War.  Long an Anglophile who wanted to have a thorough understanding of this familial war and the main players,
I was delighted to find it within the pages of this  little segment of a book.
 The summary of Ms Haggard's book follows:
Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War – during which England loses all of her possessions in France – and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.

Particulars About The Book :
Published by:  Spun Stories Press
Pages:  380
By:  Cynthia Sally Haggard
You May Purchase at:     Amazon    or    Barnes & Noble

Something About Ms Haggard :
Born and raised in Surrey, England, Cynthia Sally Haggard has lived in the United States for thirty years. She is the author of the Thwarted Queen series, which includes The Bride Price, One Seed Sown, The Gilded Cage, Two Murders Reaped and Rose of Raby. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her at: http://spunstories.com/, https://twitter.com/ – !/cynthiahaggard, and http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.haggard.

Cynthia Haggard's Interview with The Bookish Dame :

Ms Haggard, welcome to A Bookish Libraria.  I'm so  happy my readers will have a chance to get to know you better!  I have several questions for you today.  Here they are!!

1) First of all, please tell us a special something about what makes you "tick." When you aren’t writing, what are you doing? (Aside from being a dad/mom)

Thinking. I like analyzing things.

2) You chose a specific genre, a place and time to write about, what made you choose it?

I just got interested in the character of Cecylee Neville when I heard that British historian Michael K. Jones had uncovered some research suggesting that one of her sons was illegitimate. I was intrigued because that particular son was made heir by her husband the Duke of York, and later became King Edward IV. My question was, what on earth did Cecylee say to her husband to persuade him to make this illegitimate son the heir to the House of York. I was immediately intrigued by her character?

3) Bronte or Austen? Hemingway or Hawthorne? Why?

Oh dear, what a difficult question! So I'm not going to answer it directly. I like reading subversive books, especially about subversive heroines. That is one reason why I love PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I also like reading books in which there is lots of conflict like THE SUN ALSO RISES.


4) In your opinion, what makes a book a great one?

It is really a combination of character and plot, I think. You want to have a protagonist that is likeable, but believably complex. You want to put that character in a situation where there are difficult choices to be made. And then I think you need to have control of pacing to give the story shape, and a dynamic range of emotion from piano to fortissimo (as they would say in music).

5) Which author(s) most influenced your love of books from childhood?

Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Leo Tolstoy, and various historical novelists, such as Jean Plaidy, Georgette Heyer and Rosemary Sutcliff.

6) Read any good books in the past 6 months?

Yes. There was Rosemary Sutcliff's Roman Britain trilogy, and Margaret George's MARY, CALLED MAGDALENE.

7) Choose 4 guests from any era for dinner. Who would they be and what would you choose for a topic of conversation?

Cecylee Neville, Elizabeth I, Cleopatra and Boudicca. The role of powerful women in the world and how best to manage men.

8) Which of your characters is most like you?

Cecylee is a bit like me!

9) If you could cast your book for a movie, who would you choose?

Meryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses, so I think she would be perfect for Cecylee. Antony Hopkins would be good as her husband Richard of York. Colin Firth for Richard III (because he could be relied upon NOT to make him an evil villain). Ralph Fiennes for Blaybourne and Edward IV. Nicole Kidman as Queen Elisabeth Woodville.

10) Worst habit you have?

Forgetting what the time is while I'm writing. I have to keep a timer on my desk.

11) How much research did you do before and during writing?

I did a tremendous amount of research, reading every book I could lay my hands on about the Wars of the Roses and the various kings and queens of the period. Then I had to make myself throw most of it away, so as not to bore the reader!

12) Tell us a secret about your book we wouldn’t otherwise know, please!

 I completed the first draft of my novel in October 2007.

Thanks for joining us on The Bookish Libraria!

Thank you for having me, it was a pleasure answering all of your questions!

The Dame's Review In A Nutshell :
This is a book for the brave-hearted.  As I've mentioned at the beginning, I've always had a difficult time keeping the characters straight in the War of the Roses, but in "The Twarted Queen," it finally came together for me.

Cynthia Haggard's love of history and of this brave and daring young queen in particular comes together in a very good  historical novel.  I, too, love a gutsy heroine, especially one who lived and was a bit defiant of the male powers who reigned in her time.  It wasn't easy being a woman in her day, danger surrounding her on every front, sons being chased, captured and killed.  But, Ms Haggard was able to paint a portrayal of a historical "Diana" who triumphed rather than who was crushed by politics, royalty and the church.

I recommend this book for those who have a true love of English history and are aware that there is much having to do with the War in it.  There is a lovely storyline of love and strength, as well, so the book isn't dry by any means.  But it holds close to the truths of history in its gallantry as well as sufferings.

Ms Haggard is a fine writer.  I enjoyed her style of writing very much. But this is not your ordinary historical fiction, and; therefore, one I would recommend with a 4 rating since I don't think it would be for everyone.  Those interested in a strong feminist role model will particularly like it.



Eugenia O'Neal

This looks interesting. I'll put it on my TBR list! Err, is it me or does the woman on the cover not look like Hillary Clinton?


LOL, Eugenia, you are so funny! I hadn't thought about it, but I have been looking sideways at it from the moment she came into my house.... You may be right. A young Hillary, perhaps. Don't judge a book by its cover, though! LOL

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