RIVAL TO THE QUEEN

Carolly Erickson

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 and dramatic, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen—her own cousin, Lettice Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettice soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, 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.

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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 and dramatic, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen—her own cousin, Lettice Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettice soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, 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 Lettice in secret, Lettice would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband’s love and ultimately losing her beloved son 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.

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  • St. Martin's Press
  • Paperback
  • August 2011
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780312616977

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$14.99

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About Carolly Erickson

Among Carolly Erickson’s twenty-eight critically acclaimed, prize-winning, bestselling books are biographies, histories and the recent series of fictional historical entertainments. Her range is wide, her audience worldwide. She lives in Hawaii.

Praise

“An exquisitely realistic portrait of Tudor England. . . . This is much more than a historical romance; Erickson’s attention to historical detail and the depiction of Elizabeth’s struggle to maintain her control over her kingdom make for compelling reading. . . . this engaging story is a worthy addition to the genre.”
Library Journal

“Richly detailed . . . Rival to the Queen is historical fiction blended with nonfiction, with a sprinkling of romance to boot!”
Romance Reviews Today

Discussion Questions

Did the fictional character of Queen Elizabeth in this novel differ from your expectations? If so, how? 

In the novel, Robert Dudley remarks: “We must all dance to the queen’s tune.” Do you think this was true of every character, or was Lettie the one character who managed to retain her independence of action? 

What do you think would have happened to the governance of England had Queen Elizabeth died of the pox? What would have happened to Robert Dudley and Lettie? 

What do you believe were the real circumstances surrounding Amy Dudley’s death? 

In the novel, there is widespread fear of catastrophe in the Year of 1588. Are we still susceptible to such superstitious fears today? Do you hear apocalyptic rumblings in the course of your daily life? 

Lettie was a survivor, both in terms of length of life and in terms of her ability to surmount dangers and challenges—the vicissitudes and hazards that life brings. What do you think gave her the ability to survive when so many of those close to the throne were imprisoned or even executed? 

Robert Dudley was a flawed hero. In your opinion, did his flaws make him more likable, more human, or were you disappointed in him for not showing more strength and integrity? 

In the midst of our own current recession, with all its pressures and stresses, do you find it a relief to read about the fears and trials of people in the distant past?