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The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  506 ratings  ·  40 reviews
England, 1441:

Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, hopes to become Queen of England before her interest in astrology and her husband’s ambition leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king. Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life.

More than a century aft
Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 3rd 2014 by WWD (first published November 2nd 2014)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  506 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Riches creates a narrative in diary format which connects the reader to the character providing a unmistakable level of palpable intimacy. Eleanor Cobham an ambiguous and unregarded personality from history reveals her life via a tell all diary. The reader will travel from past to present as Eleanor discloses all, holding nothing back. Perhaps the diary format or Eleanor herself in her vulnerable and raw state manages to miraculously evoke empathy from the reader, exact cause undermined but empa ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read. Due to it's diary format it's not overly gripping or fast-paced, as Eleanor is looking back over her life from captivity, however it is informative and detailed when it comes to her relationship with Duke Humphrey and the war in France. Eleanor also details the marriage of Humphrey to his former wife, Jacqueline of Hainault, when she was lady-in-waiting to Jacqueline (ironic). Therefore the reader was given a good sense of who Humphrey was as a person and not just E ...more
☽ Su ☾
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
a great read ♥
The story is told in first person, as a secret diary telling the story of Eleanor Cobham's life and then her fall and imprisonment due to false accusations of sorcery and necromancy.

I highly recommend this one.
Elizabeth Lloyd
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester was unknown to me until I began to read this book, but she features in Shakespeare’s play, Henry VI, and was a significant historical character.

Written in the first person as a secret coded diary we soon learn that Eleanor is imprisoned in Beaumaris Castle on the island of Anglesey, her fourth prison over nearly 10 years. Although I sympathised with her plight I was interested in how she would explain her circumstances.

After the death of her mother at a you
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham tells the story of a woman who rose almost to be Queen of England before she fell spectacularly and thoroughly. Historical facts are not treated as spoilers.

As lady-in-waiting to Jacqueline of Hainault, Eleanor came under the radar of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester and uncle of Henry VI. First as his mistress and later as his wife, Eleanor demonstrates that she lacks the political skills to survive in the power struggle that was gearing up for all out civil war.
Deyanira C.
Sep 14, 2021 rated it liked it
The story begins with Eleonor imprisoned in a castle , and is just there where she writes her diary to remember her own story and what took her to be accused of being a witch.
Eleonor was a commoner but her family had noble connections so she is an educated girl in a poor family (compared to the noble families they frequent) and when her mother passed away Eleonor allowed many man took advantage of her, just on time her father gets a position for Eleonor to be lady in waiting for a foreign powerf
The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is perhaps best summed up as being limited by its chosen format. It’s hard to make a diary work successfully as a novel. For a start, the tension is undercut by the fact that the reader knows that the “author” has to have survived to write down what’s happened, and the real author has to write spectacularly enough for the reader to overlook that.

Tony Riches, sadly, doesn’t, and he undercuts the tension even more by having the diary being written during Eleanor’
Diane Riley
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diary of a Disgraced Women

This story is told in diary form, both reporting on Eleanor’s present circumstances and the past stories that brought her to being held as a prisoner. This is a sad story of a strong woman swept up in the suspicious and petty society of England’s royalty and the people who profited from it. A family tree of some sort would have been helpful, especially as the story went from present to past and back again.
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
loved this story even though i had read other stories about eleanor cobham i found this one was more original i love reading about the histories of england in this story it shows how people reacted to "witch craft" in honesty it was that they did not believe when people used herbs especially to help heal or treat a specific condition it also shows just how the church had so much influence in one sense it is almost as if they ruled without having a is interesting to read about king henr ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I admire my ancestors—they survived.
Mr. Riches tells the story of Eleanor Cobham, wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and brother of King Henry VI. Eleanor is mistress then wife of Humphrey who is not popular with the powers that be behind the king.
Eleanor ends up accused of witchcraft and sorcery, and she is divorced from her husband on these charges. After Eleanor’s arrest, we hear nothing of her husband.
This is a very interesting story
Dayanara Ryelle
Jun 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, reviewed
You know what the middle grade series "The Royal Diaries" did right? There was a narrative within the diary entries, which meant there was a "mental movie" I could watch.

You know what this book did wrong? Eleanor was just repeating information from her life and her imprisonment. I read a few pages, flipped forward and realized there wasn't going to be a movie, it was just going to be a lecture. And I don't read books for lectures.

I didn't even make it past the first chapter. Her Wikipedia page w
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Quick read. Compelling and interesting character but alas, Mr. Riches is not a gifted story teller. Nevertheless, I will probably read another of his books because I like his choice of characters.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read

I never heard of this lady before finding the book but I'm thrilled I did. Great story, well written, engrossing.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, by Tony Riches #RBRT

I would like to thank Tony for sending me copy to read and review as i am now part of Rosie Amber's book review team

The blurb

England, 1441:

Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, hopes to become Queen of England before her interest in astrology and her husband’s ambition leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king. Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders
Elizabeth King
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found this frustrating and the main character unbelievable. Someone who’s lost her faith in god nevertheless telling us she judges not lest she be judged. Only she’s already been judged and found guilty.
She has to keep reminding us that Antigone is her daughter (not to be confused with any of the other non existent Antigones in 5he story) and reminding us of the rank and role of every other character. It’s almost as if the author didn’t expect us to pay attention.
The trouble with basing a lif
K.M. Pohlkamp
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm usually skeptical of first person narration by an author of the opposite gender, but Riches' writing is perfection. I'm in awe of how he was able to enter the mind of Eleanor Cobham in this creative way to recount history. I was not previously aware of Eleanor's story and Riches masterfully weaves historical research and facts into the plot.

Written in a diary format, the constant jumps in time were a little jarring but also provided for successful foreshadowing that kept the book moving. I l
MaryEllen Clark
Sep 11, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating glimpse into the life and trials of Eleanor Cobham who rose to be the most important woman in England and then her famm and ultimate imprisonment for necromancy till the end of her life. An interesting historical fiction device guides the plot and keeps the story moving, as she is writing a journal documenting her version of her life and hiding it during her imprisonment and then flipping back to various key points in her life that she is writing about. A nice contrast bet ...more
Amy McElroy
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
“I was not a witch but they have made me one.”

I had come across Eleanor Cobham in previous reading but nothing in detail, only that she was Duchess of Gloucester and had been accused of witchcraft. She was indeed a Duchess but previously had been a lady in waiting to Jacqueline of Hainaut. She began an affair with the "Good Duke Humphrey"  (Brother to King Henry V) which ended with them both leaving France together, and Duke Humphrey leaving his wife Jacqueline of Hainaut alone.

Following their m
Lottie Rollin
Let me start by saying I’m a huge Tony Riches fan and most of his books get a 5* from me. However, I struggled with this one, I think it’s the diary format that puts me off, I found that the sense of jeopardy and tension lacking in places. There were parts I really enjoyed, especially her reuniting with her daughter. The book is obviously well researched and I was left with a huge empathy for Eleanor and the tragic life she led.
If this is your first book of his and you’re struggling, I strongly
Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester is famous because she married the man far above her own station and was later accused of witchcraft. Little is known about the historical Eleanor but in this fictional account Tony Riches gave her the voice she deserves. It's a fictionalised account of Eleanor's life which I enjoyed immensely thanks to the author's remarkable storytelling skills. I recommend this book for everyone who loves medieval history. ...more
Diana Jackson
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written in the first person as a diary, this was an extremely personal account. You could become part of the various fortresses where Eleanor was held; you could share her burden of guilt for those who suffered tragic death who she held in high esteem.
It was extremely well researched and obvious that the author knew the places described within very well.
A moving account of love and betrayal; how those favoured by the King could soon become enemies. An excellent read.
Kay S. Holden
I found this book to be repetitive in the storyline.

It was a slow read at times. I didn't feel the urgency to return to this read that I had with Tony's previous books.
Carole O'Brien
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I really enjoyed reading this book.
Hazel Waite
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved this book more than any other. Tough times but so well written you almost feel you are there.
Mrs L.A. Bailey
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An intriguing account of an interesting woman doomed by political scheming. Not an innocent, but a portrait of a complex human being. I was drawn in.
Apr 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible-books
Love anything Tony Riches writes, and of course, he knocked it out of the park again.
Oct 09, 2022 rated it liked it
It was a good story, but the history took over the events of Eleanor. Not for me.
Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)
Royal Court to Royal Clink... Wow what a fascinating story! It's hard enough for me to keep up with all of the Presidents of the United States much less all of the Dukes and Duchesses, Earls, Viscounts and all of the other royals that graced the peerage of England and other countries through the years so I honestly wasn't familiar with Eleanor Cobham's story going into this. What little I did know about her came from the couple minutes of Wikipedia and Internet research I did before reading. Bas ...more
Supreya Mahabir
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Slow and not very entertaining. To get to know Eleanor Cobham-better read Juliet Dymoke books.
A more realistic, postive and alive depiction of people of the era.
Beverley Newman
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting perspective

I've long been aware of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester and was keen to learn more. This novel has definitely helped me to do so. It tells the story of Eleanor's life, but gives the reader the opportunity to decide whether she deserved leniency or the degree of censure she received.
It also gives further insights into the power plays going on during the early years of Henry VI's majority, between Church and State to obtain control of the King.
In an interesting par
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Tony Riches is a full-time author from Pembrokeshire, West Wales, an area full of inspiration for his writing.

Best known for his Tudor Trilogy, Tony's other international best sellers include 'Mary - Tudor Princess, 'Brandon - Tudor Knight' and 'Katherine - Tudor Duchess'.

In his spare time Tony enjoys sailing and sea kayaking. Visit Tony's website at, Tony Riches Author on Fac

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