Friday, May 4, 2012

Five Things About the Character Jenet in Thwarted Queen

Welcome to Bluebell Books, Cynthia,

Would you share with Five Things About one of the characters in Thwarted Queen.

 “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Jenet”

Item no. 1: Jenet became Lady Cecylee's maid in the summer of 1424. At that time, her ladyship was only nine years old. 

Item no. 2. Jenet has never known exactly how old she is. Except that she is older than Lady Cecylee. When Lady Cecylee was betrothed to Richard of York in October 1424, she was still only nine years old. Richard had just turned thirteen. Jenet would put herself nearer to his lordship's age.

Item no. 3: Jenet's mother tongue was French, because she grew up in Picardy in north-eastern France. She learned English only after moving to Castle Raby to join Cecylee's family.

Item no 4: Jenet acquired her position as Lady Cecylee's maid because of Audrey. When Jenet's mother died, Audrey invited her to come to England, promising her a position in the Neville household. It turned out that Aunt Audrey (her mother's sister) had a lot of influence, because she was maid to Cecylee's mother Joan de Beaufort. She saw to it that her niece was granted a similar position with Cecylee.

As a result, Jenet led a long and happy life, forging a deep friendship with her somewhat mercurial mistress. It was Jenet who made her clothes. Jenet who embroidered them. Jenet who made all the salves, tonic waters and potions her mistress needed to beautify her face. It was Jenet who helped in the delivery of the thirteen children Cecylee bore her husband.

It was Jenet who provided a shoulder to cry on when that husband turned cruel. And it was Jenet's skill in herbal craft that kept her mistress together in body as well as spirit for many a long year. As for Jenet herself, she accompanied her mistress all over England and into France. And, as a member of the household of one of the wealthiest peers in the land, she never had to spend one day wondering where her next meal was coming from.

Item no 5: Jenet didn't have a family name, because her family was too obscure for that kind of thing. But if she had to have one, her family name would be "Dompierre" after the village she came from in Picardy.

About Cynthia Haggard
Born and raised in Surrey, England, CYNTHIA SALLY HAGGARD has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at:

Thwarted Queen Synopsis

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.

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