Philippa Gregory’s latest novel, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, is part of a series about the Cousin’s War, the long battle for the throne between the closely related Houses of York and Lancaster. Set in 1465 – 1482, Gregory writes about the rise and fall of Edward IV and the subsequent rise to the throne of Richard III, who is known to history as the likely murderer of the princes in the tower.
The Kingmaker was Richard, Earl of Warwick, whose power in the 1400s rivaled those of England’s kings. At the time, the Earl had more money than the royal treasury and owned more land, and hence could command a bigger army. During his lifetime, his opposition played a major role in the end of the reign of Henry VI, and his support put his protégé, Edward IV, on the throne. Having no sons, Warwick’s daughters, Isabel and Anne, became his pawns in his attempts to tie his family directly to the throne through marriage. Isabel and Anne are controlled by their father’s ambitions and then by their husbands’ as their family name and their inherited wealth bring them closer and closer to the throne.
Philippa Gregory brings to life the nearly undocumented Anne Neville, imagining her to be a central figure in the court of Edward IV. Certainly, the facts support this view: Anne was the Kingmaker’s younger daughter; then the wife of Prince Edward, son of Margaret of Anjou, who challenged the reign of Edward IV; then wife to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became Richard III, making Anne his queen.
As with all of Gregory’s books, the historical facts are accurate and meticulously researched. The fun of historical fiction is imagining how things might have been to someone who lived through a certain time in history, and Gregory is a master at this task, made even more challenging by the scarce documentation of the women she uses as her central characters. Anne Neville is another fascinating woman and we witness her helplessness as a young girl, her growing fears and courage as she is married, widowed, and married again, and her mixed feelings as she finally fulfills her father’s dreams.
This book is part of a series on the women of the Cousin’s War, but it easily stands on its own. People unfamiliar with this period of English history may be slightly confused by the quickly shifting alliances of the story, but Gregory does an admirable job of making them as clear as possible. For those readers who like to research a quick history of the time period before or after reading, the book The Story of Britain by Rebecca Fraser is one of my favorites and the chapters on Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III can help clarify any lingering confusion.
Also of interest: as I was researching the details of this book, I learned that Gregory has also co-authored a non-fiction work titled The Women of the Cousins’ War which documents the lives of the other women in this series: Jacquetta Woodville; her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, queen to Edward IV; and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII who takes over the throne after Richard III. Consider this one added to my list of books to read, along with the other books in this series, as The Kingmaker’s Daughter has completely captured my interest in a new group of historical English women.
Also by Philippa Gregory: The Lady of the Rivers
Rebecca is a stay at home mom and lives in Plain City, a sleepy little town in central Ohio, with her husband and young son. She enjoys cooking, eating, Zumba, crafting, and of course, reading!
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Touchstone. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.