Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson
Summary: 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.
Review: A tale of rivalry, lust, and love starring Lettice Knollys, Robert Dudley, and Queen Elizabeth.
Lettice Knollys is a great historical figure to write a book about. She and Robert Dudley risk the great wrath of Queen Elizabeth by marrying. Lettice Knollys was relatively lucky that she was only banished from court and still managed to see her husband. I am reminded of the poor Grey sisters who married with Elizabeth’s permission and became separated from their husbands permanently. With how much Queen Elizabeth cared for Dudley and how jealous she became when any woman paid attention to him, it is amazing that Lettice was only banned from court.
Rival to the Queen is a quick read that covers a number of years. Years could pass in a single chapter. A reader has to be paying attention to notice the time passing. I found Lettice to be a sympathetic and likeable character at first. She shows great sympathy and understanding towards those of a different religious faith. As the novel goes on, Lettice is shown to be a person that only cares about looks and fulfilling her lustful desires. Very soon after Robert Dudley dies, she marries a younger handsome man, because of his looks and money.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy reading about the Tudors.