A tapestry of treason by Anne O’ Brien

Constance of York, also called Lady Despenser, is the daughter of Edmund Langley – Duke of York, and therefore a granddaughter of Edward III. She is stuck in a loveless marriage with Thomas Despenser but both her husband and brothers have received offices and titles at the Court of Richard II, their cousin. When Henry of Lancaster, another cousin, returns from exile and overthrows Richard’s rule, the House of York must choose their loyalty. Are they with Henry IV or with Richard? And is there still a place for York at the court of the new king? Betrayal lurks around the corner.

O’ Brien often writes about forgotten women from the Plantagenet era. A Tapestry of Treason is one of the many books set during the reign of Henry IV. I had never heard of Constance before, so I was intrigued to discover her story

In O’ Briens other book Queen of the North about Elizabeth Mortimer, Constance already had a supporting role and I didn’t like her there. So I was a bit apprehensive about starting this book. But although Constance is portrayed as a cold-hearted and ambitious woman, you do get some sympathy for her.

I was a bit surprised that Elizabeth doesn’t make an appearance in ‘A tapestry of treason’, as I recall a meeting between the two women in Queen of the north. In this story Constance is made unaware of the the people involved in the plots against Henry IV, which is a strange choice in my opinion.

Ultimately, this book is about a woman who wants to fight for what she believes in and is repeatedly disappointed by the men in her life. Her husband, her brother Edward, the king and even her lover Edmund Holland. After a first betrayal, she keeps looking for ways to make things difficult for the king. In doing so, she discovers love for the first time, but even that is not long-lasting.

I enjoyed reading about the House of York before the Wars of the Roses. That was a first and I now have a better understanding of the early breaches of trust between York and Lancaster. The house of Holland also comes to the story’s foreground and I enjoyed reading about the descendants of Joan of Kent, another main character in one of O’Brien’s other books – ‘The shadow queen’.

It’s amazing how reading about the same events can feel so different every time. I still have ‘The queen’s choice’ about Joan Of Navarre (Henry IV’s queen) and ‘The king’s sister’ about Elizabeth of Lancaster (another of Constance’s cousins, it’s a complicated family tree šŸ˜…) to go. O’ Brien will never be my favourite author as her writing lacks some vividness, but she can sure craft a good story.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you ever heard of Constance of York before? What’s your favourite O’ Brien novel?


6 thoughts on “A tapestry of treason by Anne O’ Brien

  1. I hadn’t heard of Constance, but your review makes me want to read this entire series now. The books sound very interesting and a good way to learn about some lesser known aspects of the history in that time period, which I always enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne O’Brien is one of go-to-authors for my historical fix and I have many of her novels, with my favourites being Queen of the North and The Forbidden Queen. I have read this one and found it fascinating, but didn’t like Constance as a person very much. I have also read The Queen’s Choice and I have a copy of The King’s Sister to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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