To Celebrate the Paperback Publication of The Queen’s Rival

15th April 2021.


Two Signed Copies of The Queen’s Rival


A Pious Life

What did Cecily Neville do when she retired from the political world?


At her manor of Berkhamsted, in the later years of her widowhood, Cecily adopted a sedentary and pious lifestyle worthy of note. In this she mirrored the advice of Christine de Pisan: what was appropriate for the life of a ‘wise princess’.  This came particularly in the years after the death of her son Richard III on the battlefield at Bosworth, when Henry VII was King of England and Cecily’s grand-daughter Elizabeth became his queen consort, uniting the red and white roses of Lancaster and York.  At the time of Richard’s death Cecily was 78 years old.


Her manner of living at Berkhamsted contrasted strongly with the political involvement of her younger days.


This was the order of Cecily’s day.  Every day followed the same pattern.


She woke and rose from her bed at seven o’clock.


Her chaplain was immediately ready to say the Matins of the day and Matins of Our Lady with her in her private chapel.


A low Mass was then said in her chamber before she broke her fast.


Breakfast was eaten by the whole household, together.  This included all her servants, gentlewomen and any visitors.


Then to Divine Service in the chapel and two further low Masses.  Chapel furnishings and priestly vestments, as listed in her will, were meant to impress, also the music, including the instalment of an organ.  Something of the old Cecily here perhaps.  Her objective might be piety but not holy poverty.



If any time remained in the morning between religious observance and dinner, it was for Cecily to choose how to use it.  It is not recorded what she did.


Dinner was at 11 o’clock, or on Friday and Saturday at 12 because these were designated as ‘fast’ days.  Wednesday could also be kept as a fast day but Cecily did not.  Fish was served on fast days as well as butter and eggs, but no meat.  A reading was given during the meal to edify the diners.  It was not a time for idle chatter.


After dinner Cecily apportioned an hour during which she gave audience to any who needed to speak to her: to visitors, tenants, and petitioners who might seek her help or advice.  It was also a time in which she met with the senior members of her household.


This being complete to her satisfaction, Cecily allowed herself all of 15 minutes for an afternoon nap.


From that time until Evensong Cecily indulged in private prayer and religious observance, perhaps with the use of her substantial library of religious books.  Perhaps she recalled the days of her marriage to Richard, Duke of York, when she would have had hopes of becoming Queen of England.



As Evensong approached, Cecily drank a cup of wine or ale and her chaplain would say two short evensongs with her privately while the bell called the household to a full sung Evensong in the chapel.


Supper was taken at four or five, an informal meal where talking was allowed although Cecily often repeated what she recalled of the reading they had heard at dinner, for the benefit of those who had not been present.  This also seems very typical of the old Cecily.  I am sure that it was enjoyed by everyone!


After supper there was a time of leisure with her gentlewomen, to be spent in ‘honest mirth’ until seven o clock when Cecily took a cup of wine and retired to her chamber for the night.


Final prayers for the day were said and then Cecily had taken to her bed by 8 o’clock.


What a rigid lifestyle had been adopted by this complex woman.

Did it have a political purpose?  To impress the gossips with the Yorkist matriarch’s piety, amidst the  scandal and bloodshed of these latter days?

Or was it a deliberate withdrawal from the horror of the death of her son at Bosworth?

We will never know.



I am giving away two signed copies of The Queen’s Rival to mark the paperback publication on 15th April 2021.  if you would like to be included in the random selection, please leave a comment below. 

Good Fortune and Happy Reading.










92 responses to “Celebratory Giveaway: The Queen’s Rival

    1. This book sounds absolutely fascinating; definitely another to add to the collection! I started reading your books during my second year at university studying medieval history at Winchester, & since then I am HOOKED. All the best Anne, keep doing what you do best x

  1. Having read all your books, so far, and loved them all equally, I’m so looking forward to reading The Queen’s Rival!

  2. This I’m sure will be another delight to read. A lesson in history that bears no resemblance to classroom teachings. I love how you weave your stories of these strong passionate women. Thank you.

  3. I love the notion that a meal is not the time for idle chatter. I’m guessing Cecily would also agree, if she was around today, it’s not the time for watching TV or checking social media. A beautiful looking book that would grace any bookshelf – mine in particular!

  4. Another book about a lady from history I knew nothing about before. I also think that the cover is very nice to.

  5. Can’t wait to get my hands on this new jewel!

    Just finished an Anne O’brien marathon with “The Shadow Queen”.

    Can’t wait to learn more about the woman who shaped the war of the roses

  6. Beautiful cover!
    Cecily led an interesting life and one I’m looking forward to reading about.
    Thank you for the chance.

  7. Love your books, they really set the scene. The format of The Queen’s Rival is excellent, and the story extremely well told. Beautiful cover.
    Really enjoy the extra little insights you give us too, thank you!

  8. What a highly disciplined lady! I can’t wait to read about her early life and all the events that led to her living such a structured and pious life in her latter years.
    I love how you bring these interesting and fascinating ladies to life for the reader.

  9. I’m really enjoying reading your books about the women of this fascinating period.The Shadow Queen is my favourite so far – I’m looking forward to The Queen’s Rival.

  10. I’m looking forward to reading this! I found it interesting that Cecily “retired to a life that was appropriate for a wise princess” according to Christine de Pisan. I wasn’t 100% sure who Christine de Pisan was, so upon further investigation found that she was a medieval writer and advocator of women’s rights. Very interesting!

    1. Thanks to Julia for finding that Christine de Pison was a medieval writer who advocated for women’s rights – incredibly interesting and brave! Well have to read her work too …
      I’m curious about Cecily’s reasons for having the whole household eat together; it’s not what I imagined of her times and class!
      Anne, thank you for your beautiful books ….

  11. Your words bring those from the past back to life. I wonder what they would think to know their lives and deeds would be so often thought of, so far in the future, thanks to you.
    Well done

  12. Perhaps she couldn’t quite give up her status as ‘nearly’ queen and queen mother and become a nun completely.

  13. I have not read any of your books yet Anne! But I would like to tell you that I am looking forward to it. Cecily Neville sounds fascinating.

    1. This book sounds absolutely fascinating; definitely another to add to the collection! I started reading your books during my second year at university studying medieval history at Winchester, & since then I am HOOKED. All the best Anne, keep doing what you do best x

  14. The structure of Cecily’s later days would I think have provided welcome respite from an earlier life punctuated by chaos and great trauma. Her losses were so profound–I can understand her retreat to a more pious, well-ordered existence. Thank you as always for your guidance and insights into fascinating historical figures. Really looking forward to this one!

  15. I am currently enjoying this fine novel, written much as letters to family members. Cecily was a proud woman of immense stature who had to absorb bitter losses in her life. I believe she felt her spiritual nature had to be sustained rigidly as a sort of penance in her later years. I do not think it was to project piety but to reinforce piety as her life came to a close. The cover is glorious !

    1. I’m hugely impressed that she got so much sleep!! 11 hours – unheard of in my house!
      It certainly seems to have been a very cloistered life, and must have agreed with her if she lived to the grand old age of 78!

  16. Anne your books have kept me going during this terrible time, all my anxieties drift away as I become immersed in the life and times of these wonderful characters. Thank you so much.

  17. Very interesting to know how she lived after the rollercoaster of her earlier life. It must have been devastating to lose your husband, all four of your sons and two Grandsons, most to violent deaths. An incredibly durable lady. Imagine her life if Henry VI had been a good King, a completely different story of comfort, family and contentment.

  18. There is nothing like a real book for a satisfying read. Kindles are good for holidays, but at home I need a real book.

  19. I love your writing, you bring these medieval women to life. I’ve been enjoying them during lockdown and can’t wait for more.

  20. Cecily was such a political person I wonder what her reasoning was behind this later behavior. Would she really have given up ?

  21. Cecil you Neville is a woman who fascinates me. She saw many triumphs and tragedies in her life, was a strong and forthright woman who showed no fear in her adversities. In her later life, after leaving the political furore that followed the death of her son, Richard III, and the reign of Henry Tudor, she retired to her manor of Berkhamsted. There, she lived a pious life, whilst remaining accessible to those who sought her assistance. She was an incredible lady, and I am so looking forward to reading The Queen’s Rival, and learning more about this indomitable woman.

  22. Dear Anne,
    I am a great fan of Historical fiction and have enjoyed your other books. I would love to receive a copy of your latest book.
    Many thanks.

  23. I really enjoyed this book. A fascinating woman who always managed to hold her own in times of trouble.
    I have this on kindle but a signed copy for my bookshelf would be amazing. Thank you for the opportunity

  24. So excited to get my copy of the Queens Rival. Cecily is one of my favourite historical ladies. So complex, so fascinating. To end her days in such a stark contrast of her earlier life! She truly was a product of her lineage.
    A redoubtable lady indeed!

  25. I think her rigid retirement was conceived by Cecily as a way of mourning her dead, of which there were many. And of course, I doubt she wanted anything to do with the Tudors even though her granddaughter was Queen. A sad ending to a woman who would have been Queen, but at least she lived it her way. I think she preferred living in the shadows rather than in the Tudor spotlight. What a wonderful keepsake a signed copy of a book about Cecily. There is nothing quite like the smell and the feel of a great book.

  26. I am really looking forward to reading this as it will be fascinating to read about the life of the mother of one of my favourite historical characters.

  27. This book sounds absolutely fascinating; definitely another to add to the collection! I started reading your books during my second year at university studying medieval history at Winchester, & since then I am HOOKED. All the best Anne, keep doing what you do best x

  28. Looking forward to reading this. Cecily Neville was a fascinating women who had lost her husband and all four of her sons. She is overlooked by history and I am so glad you are telling her story.

  29. Can’t wait to read this ,my mum who has Alzheimer’s is still an avid reader of books especially historical books and is a big Ricardian.going to be a brilliant read .blessings

  30. This sounds like a great read,I always enjoy reading your novels and always get transported back in time into the lives of these fantastic women,love your work.

  31. Wow so popular. I love historical novels and would love to read one of yours. I am missing something here. Congratulations on the publications.

  32. I recall as a young girl with my family visiting Raby Castle in Co. Durham. Aside from Durham Castle (Norman) I thought this the most beautiful mediaeval castle. I was so young and so excited that Cecily was the mother of two kings. This began my love of history. I certainly look forward to reading this book.

  33. Her latter days seems to be very structured perhaps a sign than her early life had taken there toll and she just wanted to know each day how her life would be and to arrange her days to her wishes rather than in previous yeas where she was caught up with the ambition and power of others as well as her own goal of striving to succeed in her marriage and her role as duchess of York and mother of two kings, but also the loss of children and husband whilst still only 45 must have had a great impact on proud Cis even though she was still active within the court to some extend and living through so much until after the death of Richard 111 she just wanted peace.

  34. I love the Plantagenet period and how life was lived, especially for women. A determined woman would find a way to influence events of importance to her and would not be content to be relegated into a corner and regarded as insignificant. She would know her worth. Any woman worth her salt would find a way to leave her mark on her world.

  35. Required reading for all Anne O’Brien fans Would love to be selected but if not I’ll be down to the bookshop soon xx

  36. I have every copy of your books and to have the opportunity to have a signed one would make my 50th year perfect. Crossing fingers as your books are not only not put downable but so informative at the same time.

  37. I’ve just finished reading this book on kindle and really enjoyed it. Telling the story using correspondence was inspired and made it seem more personal.
    I’d love to give this book as a gift to a friend as a great introduction to your writing. Highly recommended.

  38. I always look forward to a new book of yours. Thanks to lockdown I have reread many of your previous books that I own.

  39. I have read literally hundreds, if not thousands of books on the Tudor Dynasty over 50 years, recently (about 4 years ago), I begun reading about the Plantagenet era (mostly Norman & Angevin) and progressing toward the Wars of the Roses soon. I would love to be included in the draw for one of your books, they are so thoroughly researched with locations, time windows & descriptions brought to us as though we are experiencing the moment as we read them. I need to mention also the book covers which are in keeping with the era!

  40. What a great giveaway. I am a Richard 111 fan but only know a little about his mother. I would love one of these to add to my library. Thank you

  41. What an interesting life she led! Would love to read more, love the other books by Anne and can’t wait to read this, whether I win or purchase!

  42. I am so looking forward to reading this book about Cecily Neville. I made a visit to Lincoln while we were staying in York expressly to visit the tomb of Katherine Swynford and found her daughter’s tomb there also, Joan Beaufort, whom I learned was Cecily’s mother. On a subsequent trip to the UK, we stayed in Lincoln, and I visited the tombs again and loved the tours offered by the Lincoln Cathedral.

  43. This sounds very much like a book I would love to add to my collection. I too appreciate the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of ink on paper. I am looking forward to this read!

  44. Cecily Neville is one of my favourite historical figures. What a life she led! Unfortunately, she seems to be largely forgotten by popular history, but when you read about her story, you see how unfair that is. I sometimes think her life tells like some Greek tragedy; by the end of her life, she’s lost her husband and nearly all of her children. I hope she managed to find some peace in her later years.

    I cannot wait to read your book on her! I read your book on Alice Perrers and enjoyed it immensely, and I know I’ll love this one just as much! Beautiful cover too.

  45. I am fascinated by the lives of these nearly forgotten key players. Had their lives changed, it could have affected British history as we know it. I love being able to relive their lives in my minds eye and envision their circumstances. Thank you for bringing another almost forgotten player into the light.

  46. I have always been fascinated by Cecily Neville and look forward to reading your take on her life. I enjoyed reading above about her later years. What an amazing life she led!

  47. Cannot wait to read this fascinating book. A must for any one living and breathing the lives of these historical people at this time . Characters brought back to us , taking us away from every day life especially from the horrors of the past year . Just wonderful thank you .

  48. My lifelong passion for history started with your lessons at BHS…and I hear your voice as I enjoy your wonderful books. I have read this one on kindle but would treasure a signed copy in my bookcase! Vivianne Lawson (was Turner)

  49. It sounds like all the religious services provided a needed structure to her life, and hopefully brought her some comfort as well. I’m glad she allowed a little time in the evenings for some leisure. She was a fascinating woman, and I look forward to reading the book. Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy!

  50. So can’t wait for the paper back of the Queens Rival, love your novels Anne house work goes out of the window till I have finished the book keep writing

  51. I have listened to this book on audible while out walking and loved it. Cant wait for the paperback though as there is nothing quite like holding a proper book while reading. Just love the ‘York’ family.

  52. After reading the book, and becoming completely enthralled with Cecily’s story, this additional insight into her life makes her even more ‘vivid.’ A fascinating read!

  53. I read the Queen’s Rival on my Kindle, but would love to have a hard back (or even paper back) copy – I am ashamed to say I read it through the night and ended up with a wonderful headache the next day. But it was worth it. I love this period in our history, and Annes’ books are so readable. I strongly recommend this to anyone who is a history freak, especially the Wars of the Roses – or Counsins War as it is now known.

  54. I would love a copy. My favourite period in English/Welsh History. Although an ardent Welsh woman still can’t decide if I would have supported the York ista or Laancastrians. Perhaps we could have a vote

  55. I truly love reading books on women from long ago as their lives on the surface seem bland however scratch the surface and they seem intriguing, having to negotiate polical and personal bombshells at every turn

  56. I know nothing of Cecily’s later life and would be fascinated to read more as the extract gives a very different picture from what I have gathered of her earlier exploits. I look forward to reading your take on her life, and am quite excited by the idea of a book in epistolary format as I haven’t read for a long time.

  57. I would like to have a magic carpet to fly in and out of years gone by. What an exciting journey I would have. But reading your
    books Anne- I do just that. Many, many thanks. You are the complete story teller.

  58. As a lifelong member of the Richard the Third Society I am fascinated by the life and times of his mother.I love your books-pure escapism.Currently reading The Shadow Queen.-great research .

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