The thing that bothers me about books set 150+ years ago is the representation of women. While I know women being considered as second-class citizens is true of the time, can it be that they all so subservient to men? This next book proves that this was not always necessarily the case.
The Will To Succeed: Lady Anne Clifford’s Battle For Her Rights by Christine Raafat
Such was the motto of Lady Anne Clifford, the woman who defied King James I and risked everything by opposing her family, friends, and the law in a battle to reclaim her inheritance. Anne’s father, the Earl of Cumberland, died in 1605 and bequeathed his great northern estates not to his sole surviving child but to his brother, believing that a prophecy by his great-grandfather would eventually come true and return the estates to Anne. Only fifteen years old at the time, she and her mother vowed to contest the will, and Anne spent the next three decades battling for what she believed was rightfully hers.
Lady Anne Clifford steadfastly (and treasonably) refused to accept the king’s decision, whatever the consequences, but was defeated and left with the prophecy as her only hope. Widowed at the age of thirty-four, she survived an anxious period alone with her two young daughters before surprising everyone with an ill-judged second marriage that gave her access to the highest in the land. But the Civil War destroyed that power and confined the fifty-two-year-old Anne to a grand palace in London for six years. Would she ever attain “ye landes of mine inheritance”?
I can’t believe that The Will to Succeed is the first novel to tell the story of Lady Anne Clifford! Although, when you think of it, women are often lost in history.
I loved Anne because she was a feminist that never gave up. I’ve never read a story of a historic figure as modern as she. At times she is so modern, that one may wonder if this book is a work of fiction. However, the author does a great job of keeping the balance of Anne’s personality and what was required of women at the time. It could have been very easy to present Anne as a “superhero” of sorts but for every time we see her fight for what is hers, we also see her succumbing to her husband in other ways. Seeing these different sides to Anne made her more real and I thank the author for staying true to Anne’s character.
(Before we move away from the feminist angle of The Will to Succeed, I have to give a . shoutout to Anne’s mother, Lady Margaret, another bad ass who encouraged her daughter to fight for her rights.)
Anne’s life was an interesting one and I’m glad that the book covers the bulk of it. However, I had to admit that the story was sometimes dragged out and repetitive. I can’t say if that was the fault of the author or not because the main premise of Anne’s story is she was stuck in a continuous circle of men trying to take what belonged to her, and her resolve to stand up against them. This went on nearly her entire life so, I guess, there was bound to be repetition in her story.
One other thing to note is that sometimes the old way of speaking was a bit tedious. However, it wasn’t a deterrent as the text was broken into short sections, making it easier to consume.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a new role model in Lady Anne Clifford. Spread the word about her story and help Christine Raafat give her a more pronounced position in history.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.