The year is 1441. Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, wife of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, one of the richest men in the country and next in line to the throne, hopes to one day become Queen of England. Then her interest in astrology and the dark arts, combined with her husband’s ambition, leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king.
The beautiful Duchess Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life.
Finally she is taken to the Welsh fortress of Beaumaris Castle on the Island of Anglesey.
Eleanor’s diary is discovered.
Riches creates a narrative in diary format which connects the reader to the character providing a unmistakable level of palpable intimacy. Eleanor Cobham an ambiguous and unregarded personality from history reveals her life via a tell all diary. The reader will travel from past to present as Eleanor discloses all, holding nothing back. Perhaps the diary format or Eleanor herself in her vulnerable and raw state manages to miraculously evoke empathy from the reader, exact cause undermined but empathy is what you feel towards this betraying adulteress creature.
As Eleanor shares her story, you try and comprehend who she is. Her motives driven by love or the thirst for power, fame and/or politics. She was an ambitious woman – the exact motivating force remains a mystery. Self-absorbed, disregarding others, Eleanor was determined to gain Humphrey and all accompanying this potential King. Dubious choices ultimately leading to her downfall, her selfishness the final straw as she falls hard, sadly taking others with her.
Riches provides a wonderfully written and thoroughly researched novel. His eye for detail is evident as we experience with the many locations where Eleanor was held prisoner. I appreciate his interpretation by naming Eleanor the mother of Humphrey’s two illegitimate children Arthur and Antigone when historicaly this is undetermined but by all means plausible.
Historical fiction fans will want to add this to their TBR, well written, captivating story of a fascinating enigmatic woman.
Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.