Synopsis: She came of age in a time of chaos…shaped by her secret love for a man she could not have.
1462: The War of the Roses is dividing the land as the great royal houses of York and Lancaster are locked in a mortal struggle for the ultimate prize: the throne of England.
In this era of blood and betrayal, Anne Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, falls in love with ambitious, proud Richard of Gloucester, third son of the House of York. When her father helps to elevate Richard’s oldest brother to the throne, the Nevilles are honored accordingly, with Anne betrothed to Richard, a political alliance that happily matches their hearts.
Soon, though, the shifting tides of royal favor cast Anne’s family out of England, marked as traitors. In France, under the protection of the deposed queen Margaret of Anjou, Anne becomes a captive to the ruthless woman’s struggle for domination and a tool in her father’s schemes to regain power. As Anne grows into an intelligent, poised young woman adept at navigating palace intrigues, she must hide many of her secret yearnings, including her enduring love for the now-powerful Richard, who stands opposite her in he terrible conflict to come…
My Review: I had never read anything about the War of the Roses before this book, so I was hoping it would be an awesome introduction to the period, and it did not disappoint. I really enjoyed Anne Neville from the start – she has everything I enjoy in a historical fiction leading lady, and because so little is known about her, it’s a fantastic little fantasy that comes close to being believable.
We start out with Anne at a young age, with the opportunity to see what her relationships may have been like with her sister and parents, as well as her introduction to Richard Plantagenet and some other friends who would remain influential throughout her life. Anne is a stubborn, yet likewise sympathetic child, who seems somewhat unhappy in the knowledge that her future will be inevitably political, her father being one of the most powerful men in England at the time. While she doesn’t seem to agree with this future, she knows it’s unavoidable, and seeks to make it as comfortable for herself as she can.
I often read a historical fiction novel and find it hard to believe, mostly because I’m often reading about a character who is more well known in history. The people surrounding Anne are definitely no secret to us, but there’s so much about Anne that will always remain a mystery, so this was a great learning opportunity. I got the chance to understand more of the political upheaval and chaos during this time in history, and how it could have such a drastic effect on the lives of the women involved, caught up in the decisions of the men all around them.
Just think – how different might history have been if Edward IV had married someone else, so the Earl of Warwick would not have gone on this tragic crusade. Or if the Earl had simply been content with what Edward had given him, instead of always striving for more power. While it makes for interesting items to speculate upon, I can only imagine the terror that Anne and the rest of her family would have been living under during this time.
You don’t often see a sympathetic portrayal of Richard of Gloucester, and there is so much that comes after this tale to make you question his motives to the end. However, one can’t help but think history remembers him a bit incorrectly, knowing how much he did care for Anne. This book is fiction for sure, but Richard is on record as having openly wept at Anne’s funeral, and I can’t imagine he would have done that if he really did the horrible deeds attributed to him in his later life. Perhaps that’s just me romanticizing Richard because of the novel, however.
This story paints Anne’s life as one of much tragedy, and the book ends in happiness for her. Knowing what follows in her life, I loved reading this temporary happiness. Her life after this book ends could not have been too easy, dealing with the political climate and family drama that is well known to have followed. I don’t often enjoy seeing a book end before the characters story, but in this case, I wanted the happy ending for Anne, so I settle for knowing her life went on after this particular section and that it wasn’t awesome.
Read this book if: I really believe any lover of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and I liked the liberties the author took with Anne’s short life.
My Rating: 4/5 – Borderline Amazing!
Full Disclosure: I received this book for free through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program, via the publisher, NAL Trade. This has not affected my review in any way. I was likewise not compensated for this review.