Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

This was a beautifully written historical novel, with layered characters and a fantastic heroine at the centre.

“Rebellion?”
The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.
You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.
You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.
You are Cecily.
But when the King who governs you proves unfit, what then?
Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.

I love historical novels in general and have always been a fan of Tudor-era novels, so to read something that demonstrated how everything was set in place for the events which come later was fascinating. I really loved Garthwaite’s writing, her storytelling is impeccable, and the book felt unique without being outrageously or feeling inaccurate. There was clearly a lot of research that had gone into this book, so it was a really enjoyable read right from the start.

For fans of Philippa Gregory’s book, or Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, Cecily provides another heroine that you will love. She is strong, brave, seriously clever, and is sharper than a lot of the men surrounding her. This is no weak woman, she leads those around her with wise counsel and bold strategies. Yet her partnership with her husband is equal, and they are a great pair. It was especially refreshing to read a historical novel with this kind of marriage and partnership highlighted – she wasn’t an isolated, lone woman, going it alone and proving her resistance, she was part of a wonderful pairing. I also enjoyed reading a husband that wasn’t a tyrant or controlling – he was respectful, and an excellent other half for a woman such as Cecily.

This has become one of my favourite historical novels, and I can’t wait to see what else Garthwaite writes. I’d highly recommend this for fans of historical fiction!

Cecily
Annie Garthwaite
Viking, 29th Jul 2021

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