RIVAL TO THE QUEEN
Erickson, known for her fictionalized first-person biographies, turns her attention to the dramatic love triangle that changed history. One man, Robert Dudley, held Elizabeth I’s heart and Erickson draws on that love to bring the life of Elizabeth’s cousin and rival, Lettie Knollys, to readers. Erickson portrays Elizabeth as a jealous woman, Dudley as a rake and Lettie as the innocent, endearing her to readers. Rival to the Queen gives this forgotten woman a place in history.
Pretty Lettie Knollys, a relative of the Boleyn family and Elizabeth’s cousin, becomes a rival for the queen’s beloved Robbie when the ambitious widowed Dudley tires of waiting for Elizabeth to make him her consort. He is Elizabeth’s closest friend (possible lover) yet she refuses to marry him for personal and political reasons. So he looks to Lettie for love.
When it is discovered they secretly wed the queen is furious. Lettie strives to keep her husband’s love, especially when Dudley has a child with another woman. Lettie is a strong woman who had the courage to grab what she wants despite the enmity of a powerful rival. (ST. MARTIN’S, Oct., 320 pp., $25.99)