Friday, September 14, 2012
Review: The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory
Firstly, I should say that even though this book is part of a series, each of the books can be read as a stand alone. What I've really enjoyed about this series is that it takes place over the same time period, involving the same people and events but told from different perspectives/sides of the Cousins' War (also known as the War of the Roses). I love Gregory's knack for taking controversial topics in English history and writing elaborate, entertaining novels around her ideas. (Example: her next novel will be about what she thinks was the fate of the Princes in the Tower).
I have read the other books in the series and had originally thought that I was on the Lancaster side of things, but this book has changed be into a Yorkist. One of the things I always find interesting in royal histories, especially English royal history is that one of the ways for men to attain their ambitions within court was to use their daughters as pawns. If a man could marry off his daughter to another man of power within the court, preferably a man close to the king, the entire family would rise. That remains the case with Richard Neville. He not only switches sides and makes enemies of his friends, he makes sure he places a daughter on each side so no matter which way things go down, he's set.
The story is told from Anne's perspective and I really liked her. She's a bit whiny and naive, but through the course of the novel you get to see her grow from a child to a very shrewd and informed woman. I am still unsure how I feel about her sister Isabel. Part of me really wants to hate her, but she does have some endearing moments.
Elizabeth Woodville (Anne's enemy, even when they are on the same side) is a piece of work. Though I had originally liked her in The White Queen I did not like her at all in this one. She just seems so evil to me now. Though what really gets me, is that Anne Boyelyn (who came a few generations later in history) gets harshly criticized in history, but she didn't do anything that Elizabeth Woodville didn't do. In fact, I think the later was much worse. And it goes without saying that Elizabeth had the kinder husband.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the novel. It's hard to put down, especially if you are a fan of English history. It's a great stand alone and fits well within the series without being seeming over done. I can't wait for Gregory's next novel. She always fascinates me and her novels always seem worth the read to me.