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Rival to the Queen

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  2,078 ratings  ·  138 reviews
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, dramatic and full of the rich history that has made Carolly Erickson’s novels perennial bestsellers, this is the story of the only woman to ev
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by St. Martin's Press
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,078 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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Rio (Lynne)
I went into this knowing it was light and more entertainment than historically correct, even though the back cover boasts "full of the rich history." After reading Legacy, I wanted to read more about Lettice Knollys. 50 pages in, I knew I couldn't go any farther. It started with an obvious fictitious story about Lettice living in Germany. I'm OK with authors writing what ifs, but it was very far fetched and I just wasn't buying Lettice leaving candles in her window so wild drunken boys could see ...more
We all know about the passionate affairs between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley (which honestly, I never understood because I seriously can't stand the entire Dudley family); but we rarely get a glimpse into the effects on Elizabeth due to the marriage between Letticia Knollys and Robert Dudley. I'm much more impressed with Robert's first wife Amy Robsert, but Lettie will do.

Sadly, none of that passion really jumped across in this novel. Our simple minds can already detect that Elizabeth was certa
May 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
I cannot stand historical fiction books that make a mockery of the characters they are portraying. history is full of great stories that do not need to be embellished with events that never happened or people never existed. In the first 10 pages of this book the author introduces Lettie Knollys as the daughter of Catherine Carey. Catherine Carey was the daughter of Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boylen and mother of Elizabeth I. This would make Lettie and Elizabeth second cousins but the author ...more
This novel, narrated by Lettice Knollys, who became the wife of Elizabeth I's great favorite Robert Dudley flowed nicely and wasn't as over-the-top as some of her "historical entertainments" are, but it's very much History Lite. There were some scenes (such as Dudley announcing to a room of courtiers in the queen's presence that he had shared Elizabeth's bed, and Elizabeth leaving a diary around where anyone could read it) that struck me as implausible. Some of the plot lines, such as the return ...more
Colleen Turner
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Much is known and written about Queen Elizabeth I. There is less known about her cousin, a woman who lived and loved alongside Elizabeth and even married Elizabeth's closest ally and alleged lover. Letitia Knollys was the granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, Ann Boleyn's sister. Since Ann Boleyn was Henry VIII's second wife, who he executed for supposed infidelities and other atrocities and who was Elizabeth's mother, this makes them cousins. But, rumor has it that Henry VIII was also the father of Mar ...more
'Rival To The Queen' is a historical novel from Carolly Erickson. This novel follows the life of Lettice Knollys, the daughter of Catherine Carey and granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's sister. Lettice is also a cousin of the Queen, Elizabeth I. When first reading the blurb of the book, I got really excited to read a book about Lettice Knollys, as I knew about Elizabeth's hatred of her and her secret marriage to Robert Dudley, and I was interested about their relationship with each other ...more
Angie and the Daily Book Dose
I made myself finish this one. I found it horribly ridiculous on several levels; which is very sad as I have enjoyed some of the author's older non- fiction books a great deal.

I found the portrayal of Lettice Knollys flat and completely uninteresting. The cast of supporting characters were equally boring, derivative, or downright unappealing. I found that any historical truth was bent out of shape to such a degree that I am loathe to even believe the parts that were more factual.

Perhaps the pa
Kate Guinan
Aug 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
A disappointment. Having read most of Ms. Erickson's non-fiction work, I assumed her historical fiction would be much better. This doesn't begin to touch on the complexity of the relationship of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley. Robert Dudley was Elizabeth's childhood friend and her favorite through much of her reign. Though she never married, speculation was that if she did it would have been him. After the mysterious death of his first wife and Elizabeth still refused to marry him, Dudley married ...more
Stephanie Tracy
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was another great book, starring my favorite Tudor man, Robert Dudley! This book is narrated by Lettice Knollys (who I had a negative impression of before this book) - but I decided she actually seemed like a pretty normal and respectable woman. Although I love the romance between Robert and Queen Elizabeth, I now understand the romance and marriage between Robert and Lettice much better. Robert was just as charming as usual in this story, but the focus on Elizabeth was much more negative t ...more
May 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read her biographies of Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth 20 years ago, still have them on my shelves, in fact. I would not have picked this one up if I hadn't known of the author. This one is a fictionalized history the author refers to as an "entertainment" . And at first it was quite entertaining, but halfway through I became more and more annoyed with the first person narration and finished it with a great deal of skimming.
Kate S
Oct 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This was a different look at Queen Elizabeth I (for me). In this portrayal, there was open animosity between the narrator and the Queen. As they fight for the man they both love best of all, the narrator shares customs and happenings of the times.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it
This is how I enjoy my history. Wrapped up in an interesting read.
Kera Norris
Good read for Fiction Lovers

For those of you interested in historical fiction surrounding the Tudor court. This novel follows Lettice Knollys the second wife of Robert Dudley. Although it was a descent book, it was a lot more fictional than most. Picturing Queen Elizabeth in a very different light, basically as an insufferable tyrant.
Donie Nelson
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Looked forward to learning more about Queen Elizabeth's maternal cousin Lettice Knollys, but this book was a disappointment. This a is a hack job, very superficial--however, I do realize that there is very little historical info about the Knollys--yet, I can imagine that in the hands of a more creative writer, she could be more than a one-dimensional cypher.
Charlotte G
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. I like how it used actual people in history.
Laura Chapman
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fast read. Couldn't put it down.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a good shorter read. I liked the made up events along with the real life characters. Carolly is a good writer.
Amy Stoltman
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
It was ok, unbelievable, but ok
Louise Pronovost
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Letitia Knollys, the woman who married Robert Dudley, Queen Elizabeth I's childhood friend who she loved her whole life. This is an interesting first hand account of Letitia's life and perspective on the events that took place that led to her marriage to Dudley and the aftermath of that alliance.
I really enjoyed the pace and the way Carolly Erickson tells the story. It is light and entertaining with short chapters.
2.5 stars (rounded up).

Continuing my recent obsession with historical royalty fiction, I just finished reading Rival to the Queen, which is Erickson’s story about Lettie Knollys, Queen Elizabeth I’s cousin. As I mentioned in a previous review, I really am not very knowledgeable about British or European history of this time period (most of my historical knowledge lies with Ancient Rome) so I didn’t really know who Lettie was or what her rivalry with the Queen was. I read the story not really kno
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
One has to admire historical fiction authors who choose to pump out one Tudor centered storyline after another. I suppose the saving grace is that each Tudor monarch was surrounded by their own crowd of particular characters. The monarch here- Queen Elizabeth I, the main female protagonist Lettice Knollys, granddaughter of Mary Boelyn and allegedly King Henry VIII. The main source of rivalry, Robert Dudley.

In all honesty, I am feeling rather lukewarm about this book. There was plenty regarding
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sold
I'm generously giving this book 2 stars because if nothing else, it was an easy weekend read and it was interesting to gain perspective on Lettice Knollys' side of her love affair with Robert Dudley. She's usually depicted as the "bad guy" because she "steals" Dudley from poor Queen Elizabeth. I didn't really know anything about Lettice other than the fact that she and Dudley were secretly married without the queen's permission, so it was interesting to learn of her earlier life and what happene ...more
Regina Beard
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacie (MagicOfBooks)
I will also do a video review here at my channel:

"Rival to the Queen" by Carolly Erickson tells the story of Lettice Knollys, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. Lettice and Elizabeth battle against each other with their looks, their wits, and even over the love of Robert Dudley.

Sadly, this book was a disappointment to me, though I shouldn't be so shocked by that. The only other Carolly Erickson book I have read was "The Tsarina's Daughter," and I remember being disa
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it
As a fan of Carolly Erickson's other novels, I had to pick up her latest, Rival to the Queen. I was, however, concerned when I saw all of the negative reviews out there about it. I mean, I've never thought Erickson was an amazing author, but a decent one who could write entertaining books and had the potential to write great ones. Though I didn't run to the bookstore the day Rival hit shelves, it still made my "to read" pile, and when I saw it for a good price at my local used books store, I jus ...more
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
I love reading about Tudor England and this book did not disappoint! This book focused on Elizabeth I and her rule as Queen of England as seen through the eyes of a distant cousin. Other books I have read painted Elizabeth in a positive light and how she brought her kingdom into a more peaceful time after the reign of her father, King Henry VIII. This book showed her as a disagreeable, spoiled, miserable lady who abused her attendants. Eek! I wonder if the story about her looking at her wigs and ...more
Rebecca Hill
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was a hard one for me to want to sit through the entire book. I read this one in two hours, and I was disappointed by most of it. Much of the story seemed to be skimmed over, and a huge lack in detail was present throughout much of the work.

Lettie Knollys, is the cousin of Queen Elizabeth, and she is sent to court to wait upon the queen. Throughout their entire relationship there is distrust and tantrums on the part of the queen. Lettie falls in love with Robert Dudley, the right hand
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
At first, I was really excited to read this book and learn more about Lettice Knollys and her turbulent relationship with Queen Elizabeth. My interest in Lettice was piqued after reading The Queen's Pleasure last month, and I was really looking forward to hearing her story.

Unfortunately, this book was not great. It was slow-moving at times and being in Lettice's head ended up annoying me. Even through "her" eyes, I still don't understand what was so great about Robert Dudley! I also did not like
Linda Lipko
Normally, I enjoy Erickson's books which are usually well written and filled with historical tidbits. However, Rival to the Queen is a great disappointment and in fact, I think her worst offering to date.

The Tudors are fascinating and there is a plethora of information and multitude of books about the host of characters. Like many, I'm fascinated by this historical time period. Sadly, this book was a waste of time.

Lettice Knollys was the cousin of Elizabeth I. Lettice was the grand daughter of A
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 05, 2015 10:05AM  
  • His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester
  • No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard
  • Her Mother's Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor
  • The Queen's Pleasure
  • Gay Lord Robert (Tudor Saga, #11)
  • Secrets of the Tudor Court (Tudor Court #1)
  • In the Shadow of Lady Jane
  • The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
  • Plain Jane
  • All the Queen's Players
  • The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3)
  • King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets
  • By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #3)
  • The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr (Ladies in Waiting #2)
  • The Queen's Governess
  • At the Mercy of the Queen
  • Three Maids for a Crown
  • The King's Daughter
Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.