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Cecily

By: Annie Garthwaite
Narrated by: Olivia Poulet
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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

1431 is a dangerous time for a woman to be defiant.

England has been fighting France for 100 years. At home, power-hungry men within a corrupt government manipulate a weak king - and name Cecily's husband, York's loyal duke, an enemy. As the king's grasp on sanity weakens, plots to destroy York take root....

It will take all of Cecily's courage and cunning to save her family. But when the will to survive becomes ambition for a crown, will she risk treason to secure it?

Inside closed bedchambers and upon bloody battlefields, Cecily portrays war as women fight it.

©2021 Annie Garthwaite (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"A startling heroine." (Sarah Moss)

What listeners say about Cecily

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Exciting, emotive, informative and just beautifully written

Can’t say enough good things about this book. I actually binged it in just 2 sittings. It had me gripped from the prologue when I was transported to the execution of Joan of Arc and could almost feel the heat from the fire. So cleverly written, it’s as if the author had witnessed it first hand. Every detail given was so descriptive and not rushed and yet there was no wasted words either. The narrators performance was one of the best I’ve heard on any audiobook and the characters brought to life in a way that absolutely lived up to the authors words. This book was made all the more special as I wasn’t aware that a castle, less than a mile from my home, was once visited and occupied by Cecily and at a point of such importance to her story. I feel like only time separates us from these characters, that we occupy the same place as them and I cannot wait to read this whilst sitting under a tree in the grounds of Maxstoke Castle.

1 person found this helpful

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Gripping and fast paced

A real treat for all fans of historical fiction, and a new perspective on the Wars of the Roses.

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Great novel, wonderfully read

I love history dramas written from an unusual perspective - this works well, with an authentic voice.

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highly recommended

loved it, great insight into the times. Brilliant descriptive writing. definitely left me graceful for central heating, hot water and a toothbrush

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Great book and narration

A definite must for readers who enjoy this historical period. I slowed the narration down a bit to enjoy the visualisations of the writing and the nuances in some of the dialogue - the narrator was excellent.

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Must read for any WoTR fan

I thoroughly enjoyed Garthwaite’s telling of the life of Cecily Neville.

The White Queen was one of the first historical novels I read so it was difficult to put aside Phillipa Gregory’s portrayal of Cecily as an antagonist and go into this with an open mind.

Garthwaite portrays her as a powerhouse of a woman for her day, always at the centre of politics and schemes, with a sharp wit and wicked sense of humour. At times she is just plain wicked too, and more than once I was shocked by her character.

That being said, I also couldn’t help but root for her, and rejoice when things went right, and dismay when things went wrong. By the end I respected her and sympathised with her as a strong woman, a mother, and a wife.

I have only given the story 4 stars as I found the middle portion a bit heavy going with a lot of politics/talk and not a lot of movement in terms of narrative. Also I think that if you haven’t got a good starting knowledge of the main players of the period, it may be a struggle to keep up with the endless Richard’s, Henry’s, Anne’s etc. and their motives.

I thoroughly enjoyed the narration on this audiobook and found it very emotive and evocative of Cecily’s character, which certainly added to the story for me.

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Historical backstory: the woman's side

1430s England. Now I've enjoyed The White Queen, other Tudor novels and read non-fiction on Henry VIII and his wives, I do like learning about this period.

So when I partway through this realised the family tree connection to those famous monarchs, I was even more interested, with Cecily being mother to a king who sired kings and queens - her influence would have been felt through those generations.

While this is almost a 'typical' woman's story of the period in some ways - endless pregnancies, births, losses of children and day-to-day menial tasks, Cecily being who she was means this is also the tale of a woman working behind the scenes in the ways she was able to, to influence some very significant events.

Watching her discuss political manoeuvres with her husband, and use her own techniques with other ranking women, and observe them for information, it did show just how much power a woman could yield, if she had skill and the right ear to bend.

I liked this as an audiobook, it brought the slowly ageing voice of Cecily in front of me, the conversation of her tale. The sadness of the life of a woman, its confines, but also how that didn't have to be the case - I very much enjoy seeing the other stories from history we hear less of.

For fans of historical fiction and those who enjoy putting the royal family tree in context.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

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Brilliant

A wonderfully readable book! Really enjoyed the plot. I’ll now read more by this author