Sunday, September 23, 2012

296 (2012 #41). The Kingmaker's Daughter

by Philippa Gregory

This is the fourth book in Gregory's Cousins' War series, set during the Wars of the Roses.  This book is mostly about Anne Neville, whose father Richard, the Earl of Warwick, helped Edward IV (of the House of York) overthrow the  Lancastrian Henry VI in England - thus earning him the nickname "The Kingmaker."  However, the book more or less tells the same story told in the three previous books in the series - and it's getting a bit tedious, particularly when Gregory's repetitiousness results in 400-plus pages where 300 or less would do.

This book begins in May 1465, when Anne is eight and Edward and his commoner wife, Elizabeth Woodville (subject and narrator of the first book in this series, The White Queen) have just come to power.  It ends just 20 years later, in March 1485, with Anne's death shortly after the death of her son, her only child, by her husband Richard of York, Edward's brother, and now King Richard III.

I was also a bit disappointed because once again, Gregory's author's note at the end of the book is very sparse - less than two pages - and does not completely clarify what is fact in the book.  Because Anne's life was so brief, much of the book is fiction - there is little in the historical record about her.  Gregory admits in this afterword that she "put Anne at the heart of things," probably giving her more credit for taking "her life in her own hands" than she deserves.

Gregory does include a four-plus page bibliography, a map, and a family tree for Anne, although the latter, frustratingly, does not include any death dates post-1465 (which is ridiculous, since these are all historical figures and there's no "suspense" about their deaths).  Gregory does make it clear in this book that she does not think Richard III murdered his brother's sons, the infamous Princes in the Tower.

As in The Red Queen, the second book in the series, about Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII, it's interesting to contrast the different perceptions these women of the era (Anne and her sister Isabel, Margaret, Elizabeth Woodville, and Elizabeth's mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg, subject of the third book in the series, The Lady of the Rivers) have of the times and of each other.  The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter complement each other in their negative perceptions of Elizabeth and Jacquetta (the protagonists both fear they are witches), while The Lady of the Rivers and The White Queen, about mother and daughter Jacquetta and Elizabeth, complement each other.  It will be interesting to see the perceptions in the next book in the series, about Elizabeth of York, granddaughter to Jacquetta, daughter to Elizabeth Woodville, daughter-in-law to Margaret, and (supposedly) mistress of Anne's husband Richard.

© Amanda Pape - 2012
[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]