Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Kingmaker's Daughter

by Philippa Gregory. Fourth in her "Cousins' War" series.

Anne Neville, the younger daughter of the 16th Earl of Warwick, walks behind her mother and her sister Isabel at the coronation feast for King Edward's queen Elizabeth knowing that nobody likes this queen, that Edward should not have married her against Anne's father's advice. Warwick's support had been instrumental in putting Edward on the throne, and Warwick had expected his advice to be followed afterwards as it had been beforehand; his ambition to be the power behind the throne in England will shape the rest of Anne's life, first as he attempts to use her as a pawn and finally as she grows up to play the game herself.

I like Philippa Gregory's novels a lot, and I like this series better than her later Tudor ones. She's very good at taking limited information--and women from this period, even royal women, left few traces on the historical record--and using it to develop plausible characters. I particularly like her take on Richard III: neither the thoroughly and self-consciously evil villain of Shakespeare nor the thoroughly noble, slandered king some other authors have described, but an ambitious man who saw his chance and took it. This is a Richard I can believe in (especially since Gregory takes the line that Richard did not kill the princes in the Tower).

Very interesting to see the same events from a different perspective; Jacquetta and Elizabeth Woodville, both presented very sympathetically in their own novels earlier in the series, make great villains from another point of view!  But we've gone over these same events three times now, or in some cases four; I'm very much looking forward to The White Princess, which I hope will carry the story forward a little farther.

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