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Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson: A Book Review

Rival to the Queen
Author: Carolly Erickson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 337
Source: My State Public Library 
Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Wife of Henry VIII comes a novel about the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her fascinating cousin, Lettice Knollys, for the love of one extraordinary man. 

     Powerful, dramatic and full of the rich history that has made Carolly Erickson's novels perennial bestsellers, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen— her own cousin, Lettie Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettie soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a man so enamored of the queen and determined to share her throne that it was rumored he had murdered his own wife in order to become her royal consort. The enigmatic Elizabeth allowed Dudley into her heart, and relied on his devoted service, but shied away from the personal and political risks of marriage. 


     When Elizabeth discovered that he had married her cousin Lettie in secret, Lettie would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband's love and ultimately losing her beloved son, the Earl of Essex, to the queen's headsman. 


     This is the unforgettable story of two women related by blood, yet destined to clash over one of Tudor England's most charismatic men.


     My Review: Leticia Knollys was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I. She was most famous for marrying one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite courtiers, Robert Dudley. In this historical novel, Leticia Knollys is the granddaughter of Henry VIII. Her mother was the illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII and his mistress, Mary Boleyn. Leticia becomes lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth. She falls in love with Robert Dudley whom Queen Elizabeth loves. Both Leticia and Queen Elizabeth fight with one another to win Robert Dudley’s heart.


     I did not like Leticia Knollys. I found her to be very vain and haughty. She thinks she is better than everyone, including the queen, because of her royal blood. She disrespects Queen Elizabeth and gets away with it, which I find very unconvincing. I also thought that she was extremely judgmental. She was also very possessive and jealous. Thus, Leticia was not a very sympathetic character.


     Overall, this novel was about ambition, power, and love. I found all the characters to be very one-dimensional. However, I did like the love triangle between Queen Elizabeth, Robert Dudley, and Leticia Knollys. I thought the fierce rivalry between Queen Elizabeth and Leticia was well done. They were very similar. However, there were many inaccuracies, and some scenes were very far-fetched. There were also parts of the novel that seemed unnecessary. The story also tended to drag at times. Nevertheless, it was a light and easy read! It was full of courtly and political intrigue that read like a soap opera! I like how it mostly focused on Queen Elizabeth’s reign. I thought Rival to the Queen did an excellent job in portraying Queen Elizabeth as a vulnerable woman. Rival to the Queen is an entertaining read that will be sure to appeal to fans of Queen Elizabeth and the Tudors! I also recommend this for fans of My Enemy, the Queen, A Woman of Passion, and The Lady Carey!


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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