Anne Neville and her sister Isabel are daughters of the most powerful magnate in 15th century England, the Earl of Warwick, nicknamed the "kingmaker". Ever ruthless, always plotting, in the absence of a son and heir. Warwick sets about using his daughters as pawns in his vicious political games.
Anne grows from a delightful child, brought up at the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Her life is overturned when her father turns on his former allies, escapes England and invades with an enemy army. Widowed at fourteen, fatherless, with her mother locked in sanctuary and her sister a vengeful enemy, Anne faces the world alone.
But fortune's wheel  turns once again. Anne plots her escape from her sister's house, finds herself a husband in the handsome young Duke of Gloucester, and marries without permission, in secret. But danger still follows her. She finds that she has a mortal enemy in the most beautiful queen of England. Anne has to protect herself and her precious only son from the treacherous royal court, the deadly royal rival, and even from the driving ambition of her husband - Richard III.

This is not my first fictionalised Anne Neville's account of the facts which involved her in The Cousins' War , nor my first Richard III novel. However, I was totally absorbed in this new version of the story by Philippa Gregory and even often surprised by her choices. As much as I disliked her The White Queen, I really liked her latest The Kingmaker's Daughter. Especially the second half of the book.
I like  the different Anne coming out from its pages, stronger - willed and even with ambitions of her own, less passive victim of fate than the tender, naive girl I found in "The Sunne in Splendour" or "The Virgin Widow". She is quite smart instead and not easily bent, though quite easily inclined to believe everything happening around her is the result of curses and magic tricks played on her by her mortal enemy, Elizabeth Woodville.

In 1470 Lady Anne is married to Prince Edward, son of Margaret of Anjou and king Henry VI . She's only 14, a pawn in her father's plans to make himself the most influential man of England supporting the House of Lancaster against his previous allies, the House of York.

Young Anne has been brought up hating the Lancastrians as her most dangerous foes and loving King Edward IV and his siblings, George and Richard, as dear friends. Now she has to learn to respect her enemies, marrying one of them, and to fear her friends.  The inner struggle to accept all these dramatic changes, and the psycholigical strength she needs to bear  the consequences of her father's choices, are brilliantly conveyed by the author, who gives the reader a heroine of great courage and strong personality.

Anne will be overwhelmed by the events following her marriage to Prince Edward: she will follow her husband to the battlefield and will end up an orphan, a widow, a prisoner who may be accused of high treason,  a defeated princess ,  a  destitute girl  in the hands of the royal family her father had betrayed. Her mother deserted her,  her sister Isabel with her husband George of Clarence just want Warwick's inheritance all for themselves. She is kept as a prisoner in their house with no hope and no freedom.

The youngest heir of the York line, Richard Duke of Gloucester, comes to her rescue as a very romantic and  ambitious knight in a shining armour. He was brought up and educated by her father, the Earl of Warwick, at Middleham Castle,  and they have long known each other since they were children. He is her only chance to escape a very sad fate in a nunnery, he is her only chance to be saved and restored to a respectable life. He becomes the great love of her life.

Philippa Gregory couldn't resist the chance of making the romantic love story between Lady Anne and Richard Plantagenet the most touching, gripping element of her novel. However, as usual her novels are not mainly romances. You can be sure you'll find plenty of intrigue and mystery, plotting and scheming, action and adventure  in The Kingmaker's Daughter.
Another typical feater of the series,  which you will also find in this book,  is the presence of magic, which honestly is my less favourite ingredient.

As you can imagine, the main reason why I wanted to read this novel was my interest in Richard III and his personal story. I wasn't disappointed by Ms Gregory's portrayal of young Dickon, nor by her depiction of him as a troubled king. I think she got the right balance between the romantic hero and the smart politician. No trace of the Shakspearean  devilish figure.

This book and the previous ones in the series (The Red Queen and The White Queen) are being filmed for a 2013 BBC series which I hope will be spectacular. So I read The Kingmaker's Daughter with these lovely faces in my mind:

Faye Marsay (above left) and Aneurin Barnard (above right),  who are playing in the 10-episode series as Anne Neville and Richard Duke of Gloucester (then Richard III). They definitely fit Philippa Gregory's portraits of the two young lovers, don't you think so?

P.S. I
I haven't renounced my dream of seeing a Richard III movie or series with Richard Armitage, though I've started figuring him as the Earl of Warwick, the kingmaker. Time flies. Too late for him to be Dickon? Definitely.  But wouldn't he be a great Warwick?

Philippa Gregory in Richmond
Philippa Gregory signed my copy of The Kingmaker's Daughter. A gift from my friend Antonella  (on the right in the picture above,  taken from her facebook page) who met the best selling author in Richmond after a talk in which she  presented  the book. Many thanks, A.  A wonderful birthday gift!


Susan Mason-Milks said...

I've been looking forward to this book coming out as I love reading about the War of the Roses - or as Ms. Gregory calls it "The Cousins' War." After reading your review, now I'll definitely read the book.

Rinn said...

Hi there!
I see we're both tour hosts for Buy the Book Tours - I'm your newest follower =)

Maria Grazia said...

@Susan Mason-Milk
I hope you'll enjoy it, Susan. I'm a fan of everything Ricardian (not only everything Austen, you see?) and that's the main reason why I read it. And I liked Ms Gregory's Richard in this novel pretty much :-)
Thanks for passing by and leaving your comment.
Hello and welcome to Fly High!
I'm curious to see what will come from Buy the Book Tours. I hope lots of new interesting authors and books!

Cecilia said...

Oh oh oh! I'll have to add it to my long list of books to read ;)

Thanks also for the pics, this is the first time I see the actors of the miniseries.

Maria Grazia said...

Hello @Cecilia! Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment.
As for your long TBR list, I also suggest a new hist/fic novel (again RIII - related), which I'm reading these days: A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir.

Anonymous said...


You review really makes me want to read this book. Do we have to read the previous books of the series or is it ok to begin with this one?

Thank you in advance

Maria Grazia said...

I'm sure you won't have problems at reading this book without reading the previous ones. Anyway, there are many references to historical characters/events you may already know about or need to check out while going through to story. I hope you'll want to share your musings here, if you come to read The Kingmaker's Daughter. Thanks for passing by, reading and leaving your comment.

Unknown said...

No Richard Armitage will always be Richard lll. He may be older now, but he still looks young and resembles Richard. The Earl of Warwick probably didn't look like him.