Staying in with Christine Raafat, Author of The Will to Succeed

The Will to Succeed

I’m such a fan of historical fiction that not being able to fit in a book for reading is a huge disappointment but at least I can stay in with Christine Raafat to hear all about her book, The Will to Succeed thanks to the lovely folk at Bookollective.

Staying in with Christine Raafat

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Christine. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hello Linda, thank you for inviting me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

The Will to Succeed

I’ve brought along The Will to Succeed, which is not only my first novel but also the first novel to be published about its 17th century heroine, Lady Anne Clifford.  There is a lot of information about her in the form of her own diaries and record books and so on, and many biographical studies of her are available but this is the first time her story has been fictionalized.  She battled for her rights for 28 years after her father left his lands to his brother instead of her and it makes a great story.

What a great subject. So, what can we expect from an evening in with The Will to Succeed?

I hope that in settling down with The Will to Succeed you will be transported to the seventeenth century and gripped by the tale of a woman who stood up for her rights against the rest of the world, including the King, and refused to take no for an answer.

Even if your setting is the seventeenth century I think the themes will still resonate today Christine!

You will want to know what happens so the pages will keep turning through all the troughs and peaks of Lady Anne’s story. She lived by her motto, ‘Retain your loyalty, Preserve your rights’, however difficult life became. She rarely enjoyed living at Knole House or later at Wilton, but she fell in love with Appleby-in-Westmorland, the town where I went to school, and she is remembered there for the beautiful almshouses she built for elderly widows who can no longer work. Elderly widows still live there today.

20180906_112234 (1)

It looks a glorious setting now. I expect life was very different in Lady Anne’s time.

What else have you brought along and why?

Vita's Lady Anne's Diary

I’ve brought along a little book I bought online whilst I was researching the novel.  It is The Diary of the Lady Anne Clifford With an Introductory Note by Vita Sackville-West. The gold curlicues on the spine are similar to the ones Pam Grant used in the design of the lovely cover of The Will to Succeed.

Spine of Vita's Lady Anne 's Diary 1

How lovely to have that visual connection.

I paid £10 for it and was rather surprised when it arrived to find that it is a First Edition, 1923.The title page is embossed with the words ‘PRESENTATION COPY’ so Vita Sackville-West may even have handled it herself!  It has a  fold-out Genealogical Table showing all seventeen of Lady Anne’s grandchildren – her two daughters did her proud, despite none of her five sons surviving beyond infancy.

What an exciting find! I love the sound of The Will to Succeed Christine, so thank you so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it.

The Will to Succeed

The Will to Succeed

When the 15-year-old Lady Anne Clifford’s father died in 1605, she was his sole surviving child and expecting to inherit the Cliffords’ great northern estates. But the Earl of Cumberland leaves a will which ignores an ancient law and bequeaths the lands to his brother, in the belief that a prophecy by his great-grandfather will eventually come true and return the estates to Anne. She and her mother vow to contest the will.

Anne spends the next three decades battling for what she believes is rightfully hers. She risks everything by opposing her beloved husband, her family and friends, the nobility, the law courts, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King. She steadfastly (and treasonably) refuses to accept the King’s decision, whatever the consequences, but is defeated and left with the prophecy as her only hope.

Widowed at thirty-four, she survives an anxious period alone with her two young daughters before surprising everyone with an ill-judged second marriage which gives her access to the highest in the land. But the Civil War destroys that power and confines the 52-year-old Anne to a grand palace in London for six years. Still convinced of her rights, will she ever attain “ye landes of mine inheritance”?

Published by Unicorn on 1st February 2020, The Will to Succeed is avaailable for purchase here.

About Christine Raafat

Christine Raafat grew up in the Eden Valley, in what was then Westmorland. An early fascination with Ancient Egypt led to an ambition to be an archaeologist; instead she became a Clinical Psychologist and married an Egyptian Psychiatrist. Twins were born two years later.

She lived in East Sussex for over 20 years, working with children and families and published Parenting Skills in 1995.

Widowed and then retired, she took up painting and returned to Cumbria, but was later seduced by the fascination of words and published several magazine articles of local interest.

The Will to Succeed is her first novel, taking us back from the court of James I to the Eden Valley.

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