Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

All hail Philippa Gregory!  Her books are intensely readable, and enjoyable, too.  Although she sometimes skewers the historical facts, her books are top notch.  Why?  Because Philippa Gregory is a superb storyteller. 

The Kingsmaker's Daughter (Touchstone: $26.99) is the gripping story of Anne Neville, younger daughter of  Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker.  Warwick does not have a son and heir, but he has two daughters, Isabel and Anne.  Wealthy heiresses who become the pawns for their father's political ambitions. 

Warwick played to win.  He first supported Edward VI and his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, and their court, where Isabel and Anne were raised.  Isabel was married to the king's brother, the Duke of Clarence.   A marriage was also arranged for Anne: she was to wed the King's youngest brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

As the political winds changed, Warwick chooses to go to war against Edward, throwing his support to the former king Henry VI, and marrying Anne to Henry's son, Edward, Prince of Wales.

Anne was nothing more than a pawn for her father's needs.  Warwick restored Henry to the throne, but the restoration did not last long.  Henry was defeated in battle by Edward, who reclaimed his crown.  The Prince of Wales was killed,  and Anne taken prisoner,
Anne, widowed and fatherless, was placed in the custody of her sister and brother-in-law, who had his own ambitions. Greedy and culpable, the Duke of Clarence, wanted to get his hands on the Neville inheritance: his wife's and Anne's.

 Clarence, of course, would end up in a butt of malmsey.  Anne managed to get away from her family, and marry the Duke of Gloucester.  They settled at Middleham in the north, where Richard was popular.  Anne gave birth to a son, Edward.  After the deaths of her sister and Clarence, Anne raised their two children.   Richard supported his older brother, Edward, but following the king's death in 1483, Richard took the throne after his nephew, Edward V, was declared illegitimate.  

Anne became the queen, fulfilling her father's ambition, and her son became Prince of Wales, but the young prince died in 1484 at the age of ten.  Richard named the young Earl of Clarence as his heir. 

The final months of Anne's life were spent largely away from the court.  She was beset by the rumors of the deaths of her husband's nephews, and the planned invasion by Henry Tudor.  Queen Anne died early in 1485, several months before Richard III  was killed in battle.

The Kingmaker's Daughter is the fourth in The Cousin's War, a fictionalized account of the War of the Roses as seen through the eyes of distaff Plantagenets. This is the type of book to cuddle up with on a cold night as the snow falls outside or while relaxing at the pool, a frozen Margarita in one hand.

This is a book that can't be put down, a true page turner.  Anne Neville never had a choice.  Her father made all the decisions.   She was nothing but a pawn to be used to gain more power.  It is said that Richard III was fond of his wife, and truly mourned her.  Philippa Gregory breathes life into the tragedy that was Anne Neville's life.

You will love The Kingmaker's Daughter.