I think we all know from my name and the numerous references, I like books. I don't just sell them, I also read them. Most of what I read is historical fiction, which means I tend to read a lot of Philippa Gregory and that includes her newest book The Kingmaker's Daughter.
The Kingmaker's Daughter is the story of Anne Neville, the daughter of Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick. Her father helped put Edward of York (King Edward IV) on the throne, hence his nickname of "Kingmaker". Anne was married to Edward Prince of Wales, the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou and then, after his death at the battle of Tewkesbury, went on to marry Richard of York, the youngest brother of Edward IV (her sister Isabel was already married to George Duke of Clarence, the other brother of Edward and Richard).
This book is one of those in Gregory's series "The Cousins War", which features female characters during the War of the Roses. Unlike some of her other books, which feature points of view of two or three characters (The Other Queen and The Boleyn Inheritance are two examples) the Cousins War books focus on one character each.
Having read all the other books in this series I was quite eager to read The Kingmaker's Daughter, especially since it featured a woman that I had never really heard of before. Unlike some of Gregory's other books, when you can sense the obvious bias towards one side or in favour of one character, you don't really get a sense of whether she sees Anne as a woman that was wronged, or the one doing wrong. Instead she portrays Anne Neville as a woman who tries to be strong, like Gregory's other female characters, but who somehow ends up being manipulated by others. She is eager to please her father, lives in fear of her first husband and mother in law, is effectively imprisoned by her sister and brother in law, a situation which then leads to her rushing into marriage with her second husband, Richard.
I liked the running theme of her fear of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV, who is portrayed in all the books as being a witch. Having read The White Queen, which has Elizabeth as the main character, you can see that more often than not, Anne effectively scares herself with her belief that the Queen hates her and has cursed her. I also liked that the book covers all of Anne's life, from her childhood to her death. The White Queen starts with Elizabeth as an adult and includes the death of her mother Jacquetta, while The Lady of the Rivers starts with the teenage years of Jacquetta and ends where The White Queen starts. Anne herself died at the age of 27, and when reading her book you get a feeling that there isn't much about her in historical records compared to some of the other women Gregory has written about.
What I didn't like about the book was the inconsistencies, some of which can be related to the differences in view between characters but others are just baffling. In The White Queen Anne is a tertiary character, referred to as a "sickly" woman. However, apart from her infertility and her final illness, there is nothing in this book that indicates she is anything other than healthy. At one point there is a mention of Elizabeth and King Edward's fifteeen year old daughter Mary dying in the same year as their infant son George, but in The White Queen there was no mention of Mary's death, and considering that they are portrayed as a close and loving family it seems odd that it would just be ignored in Elizabeth's story.
As usual this is one of Philippa Gregory's books that is well worth a read, just don't be surprised if parts of it make you want to shake Anne Neville and tell her to stop being so stupid. I would also recommend reading The White Queen first, just to put some of it into context. I'm now seriously looking forward to her next book, The White Princess, as it features Elizabeth of York (the mother of Henry VIII) who has minor roles in The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter.
Have a good weekend!