Title – To Be a Queen
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 406 Pages
Publication – Nov 2013
My Rating – 5/5 Stars
This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the ‘Lady of the Mercians’, daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is the tale of one family, two kingdoms and a common enemy. Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy. She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner, twice making an attempt on her life. When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead and when he subsequently dies, she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother.
Where to begin..I really enjoyed this book. It’s a powerful coming of age tale of Aethelflaed or Teasel as she’s referred to in the book.
At first I didn’t like her but after she was wed to Ethelred and she starts to warm to him I found myself warming to her. Although I have to admit Ethelred was my favourite character in the book. He oozed power and respect and I loved reading any scene with these two in.
The tale is set over many years and we see Teasel grow from a little girl into a powerful woman who manages to break down her defences and those of the Mercians to win their loyalty and to fight for their lives and their land.
We see Teasel deal with love & death.. and a lot of it. You could imagine yourself in her position having no choice to marry a man for convenience.. whilst being in love with another. As she grows she has to deal with those she cares about dying around her.. ageing.. fighting and you sometimes feel that she is about to crack.
The book is full of detail, add to this an insightful historical note from the author left me in no doubt this is a 5 star book. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
Annie Whitehead manged to make the character of Aethelflaed come alive for me.. I felt for her..i didn’t want to put the book down
I’ve used this word before but indeed the word that springs to mind when I think about this book is Powerful! Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy this and anyone who loves a female heroine will absolutely fall in love with it. The development of the two main characters was superb.
This book is a perfect mix of historical detail, love and death to engross any reader.
I was also left thinking about the frailty of life and how things don’t always go the way we would like but that doesn’t mean you give up.. you fight. Not many books leave me with afterthoughts such as this. Credit to the author.. this book had a lot of depth in my view and I loved it.