With the scant remains of Richard III lifted recently from such humble soil, Elizabeth Ashworth presents us here with the results of her own excavation. Perhaps no other ruler has engendered such a spirit of ambivalence in the British public - murderer or maverick, disfigured disgrace to the throne or exciting, romantic anti-hero, unafraid of getting his hands dirty in the heat of battle. The various contradictions that feed our understanding of the man are enacted here, focussing on a series of formative events in his early life that cast him in an interesting new light.
When 17 year old Richard, Duke of Gloucester, defies his elder brother, Edward IV, and rides to Hornby Castle in the north of Lancashire to help James and Robert Harrington defend their birthright against Sir Thomas Stanley, he engenders a chain of events that will have repercussions for years to come. His fight for justice for the Harringtons and his relationship with Anne Harrington, whose wardship has been given to Thomas Stanley, cause a rift between the two men that will never be healed, and which will lead to Richard being betrayed when he most needs Stanley's support.
By Loyalty Bound tells the story of defiant Anne Harrington, the woman who would later become mistress to the enigmatic Richard as a consequence of his involvement in the trials of her family. With her father and grandfather killed fighting for the Yorkists at Wakefield in 1460, Hornby Castle falls to her as an inheritance at the tender age of five years old. When her ward-ship is handed over to Thomas Stanley by the king himself, Anne's uncles and the influence they might otherwise have wielded are virtually cut off. The story traces the Harringtons fight to keep possession of their ancestral home, the support given to them by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Richard's tumultuous and beguiling relationship with Anne as she is forced into a marriage arranged for her by her guardian, a man who has objectives beyond the determination to secure her future happiness.
With a close eye for detail, Ashworth creates an intricately nuanced landscape which serves as a remarkably effective and convincing backdrop. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a man often demonized in literary adaptations with his hunched back and questionable moral code, is revived to supreme effect. The romance of the era is effectively relayed, communicating a real sense of drama borne out of political tensions heightened by the emotional complexities that characterized the age.
Elizabeth Ashworth has been a published author from an early age with an article in Diana magazine at the age of eleven years old, for which she was paid a pound. Since then has had many articles and short stories published in magazines including Lancashire Magazine, The Lady, People's Friend, My Weekly, Fiction Feast and many others.
In 2006 her first local interest book, Champion Lancastrians, was published by Sigma Press. This was followed by Tales of Old Lancashire, from Countryside Books in 2007. A fascination with one of the old stories she discovered whilst researching for this book inspired her to write her first historical novel, The de Lacy Inheritance, which was published in 2010 by Myrmidon Books.
Another non-fiction book looking at the burial sites of some notable and interesting characters, Lancashire: Who Lies Beneath? was published in October 2009 and her second historical novel, An Honourable Estate, based on the Mab's Cross legend, was published in 2012.
As seen on www.historicalnovels.info
A thrilling novel.Lancashire Evening Post
A wonderfully imaginative and action-packed story. compelling and credible. 'By Loyalty Bound' is a rare treat. An exciting exploration of a piece of little-known history. A stunning new slant on the last of the Plantagenet kings. An intriguing theory... and an unmissable story.Lancashire Evening Post, Lancashire Guardian, Morcombe Visitor
Ms Ashworth handles a very complicated era of history extremely well. Edward IV did not have an easy rule and no one was certain of which side to join, and many changed loyalties according to who was in the ascendant and whose army was biggest. By the end I was confused as to who actually was the â€˜rightfulâ€™ king, so even with hindsight I would have made the wrong decision.Anita Davison
Villains abound in all guises and Anne has to tread a careful path with her in-laws who regard her as having brought disgrace on them by being Richard of Gloucesterâ€™s mistress - hypocritical in the extreme as they forced her to marry their son so they could grab her estate!
Despite its difficult beginning in that she was presented to him as a bribe by her family - girls had a rotten time in the 15th century! Anneâ€™s devotion to Richard of Gloucester is touching, - so much so, she refuses to consummate her marriage to Edward Stanley - though fortunately he does not press the issue and takes a mistress of his own. In an age where bearing heirs is vital, I wondered at her father-in-lawâ€™s silence on the fact she had produced two healthy children for Richard but none for her own husband, but he remains enigmatically silent.
Margaret Beaufort joins the Stanley family, making the entire crew even more sinister, and Anne has to watch her back for stray daggers, at times relying only on her aloof serenity to keep her safe.
For those who are interested in the late Plantagenet kings and the lead up to Bosworth Field, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read.