The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.
At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.
Read my reviews of the earlier titles in the series:
The Kingmaker’s Daughter brings us another installment in the Cousins’ War series, this one focusing on the point of view from Anne Neville. Fans like myself of the history of the Wars of the Roses would recognize the Neville name as being closely connected to the Yorkist kings, as Richard Neville was the Kingmaker who helped put Edward IV on the throne of England.
This was a period of time where many factions were created and put down, and turn coats and traitors were just as easily made. There was never a pure period of peace, there always seemed to be a rivalry for the throne of England. Before this novel opens, Anne’s father had successfully ousted the Lancastrian Henry VI and his wife Margaret of Anjou to put the Yorkist family on the throne. Anne had grown up fearing this “bad queen” and feeling sorry for the “sleeping king”, but never once doubting the righteousness of the Yorkist claim. When the new King Edward chooses Elizabeth Woodville, the new Queen Elizabeth rises her huge family to greatness with lands and wealth which old lords and honorable nobles felt entitled to.
Philippa Gregory loves her Witchy Woodville girls, and they are back causing evil and torment to all those who stand in her path. The Woodvilles are of the upstart House of Rivers, and King Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville, essentially a commoner, and sired many children with her. Alliances are made for these children, and unrest grows. King Edward seems to lead the country at the wishes of his witchy Queen, and it causes Anne’s father to become a turncoat himself as he becomes an ally to The Bad Queen (Margaret of Anjou). Anne is betrothed to her Lancastrian heir, Edward, and everything that she has been taught as a child has become overturned.
She is to be a Lancastrian with her marriage to Prince Edward. As most lovers of the story know, this new uprising fails, and long story in the end Anne finally does end up with Edward’s brother, Richard. Anne and her sister Isabel are now both married to King Edward’s royal brothers, and things should end happily ever after, if not for the Woodville clan.
Elizabeth Woodville was portrayed throughout Gregory’s novels as a witch, seductress, temptress.. and the same themes hold true in the new installment. Anne suffers greatly once she marries Richard, and each loss she attributes to the witchy Queen. As I neared the end of the novel, I had hoped for more for Anne, but it seemed that Elizabeth Woodville, even from her far sanctuary, had won the last battle.
There are many story lines weaved throughout, which fans of Gregory would remember such as the legend of Melusine, or the rumors that historians like to hate and refute, but Gregory always manages to turn facts and rumors into an entertaining story. I love the Wars of the Roses era and the Plantagenets far more than I do the Tudor era for all of the many side stories that would be a novel by themselves. Even though I disliked both the juvenile style of the beginning of this book and the depressing way the book ended, I enjoyed this story a bit more than some of the others.
This time, I really felt the plight of the Neville sisters of Anne and Isabel, and I actually was sympathetic to Richard, whom some feel may have murdered those princes in the Tower (raises hand). There is so much history that we will never truly know, and historians will decipher letters and evidence as they see fit, and I love how Philippa Gregory brings to life an otherwise forgotten time period as she has with her Cousins’ War series. Since Gregory doesn’t bog down this story with many historical facts or details, the drama speaks for itself with its blend of treachery, sorcery and devotion and I can recommend this novel to any historical fiction fan wishing for an entertaining read, as well as it being suited for a young adult audience.
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