Publisher: Simon & Schuster
At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child brought up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Her will is tested when she is left widowed and fatherless, with her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Fortune’s wheel turns again when Richard rescues Anne from her sister’s house, with danger still following Anne, even as she eventually ascends to the throne as queen. Having lost those closest to her, she must protect herself and her precious only child, Prince Edward, from a court full of royal rivals
Having recently watched the BBC adaptation of the Cousin War books, it really encouraged me to pick up this book. Focusing on Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’s youngest daughter, Anne, we follow Anne through her life as she grows up close to the crown and is dragged into her father’s manipulations and plots to control those on the throne. She grew up in the House of York but her first marriage is to the heir of the House of Lancaster which means she is front and centre of some of the most intriguing political and actual battles of the ‘Cousin’s War’.
Anne is young and naive at first but she learns from those around her especially the different way the women around behave from her mother’s self-preservation to Margret of Anjou determination to fight for her son’s throne and even her sisters fear of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. This was a period of time when women were used for their family connections and bloodlines, yet managed to carve out their own roles behind the scenes. The events Anne lives through are tense and exciting which make for a fun read especially her possible involvement with the princes in the tower. Anne maybe overlooked in history in favour of the men in her life – her father, the kingmaker, her first husband, Edward, Prince of Wales and her second husband the infamous Richard III but she makes a lively and engaging narrator with her very different view point on events from Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen and Margaret Beaufort, the Red Queen.
That period of history was largely unknown to me previously with most history lessons focusing on the Tudors, but I’ve loved learning more about the era immediately prior to the infamous Henry VIII. There are some great mysteries from this era with whispers of witchcraft, and sibling rivalry over the throne pushed to extremes. I really enjoyed this story which felt fresh and enticing as a summer’s breeze on a warm day.
Recommended for fans of Alison Weir and Anne O’Brien. 8 out of 10