The Kingmaker’s Daughter

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The Kingmaker's Daughter, Philippa Gregory, book reviewThe Kingmaker’s Daughter is the fourth novel in Philippa Gregory’s Cousins War series, which opened with The White Queen, the title of the recent BBC adaptation. Each novel tells the story of one of the women at the heart of the Cousins War, which we know better as the War of the Roses. The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the story of Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, one of the key figures throughout the war.

The Earl of Warwick has no son, only two daughters, Anne and her sister Isabel, and so he uses them as pawns in his schemes and attempts to control the power of the throne. Anne is confused by the family’s always changing loyalties, having been taught as a child to call Margaret of Anjou “the bad queen” and then finding herself being married off to her son when her father changes his loyalties from York to Lancaster. Even once her father and the Lancasters are gone, and Anne makes a happy marriage, she is not free from fear and loss.

As always, Gregory’s writing tells the story well, and endears the narrator to you. I didn’t hurry to read The Kingmaker’s Daughter, thinking the subject might be of as much interest as other novels, but I was swiftly hooked and desperate to know more about Anne’s story. Despite having read widely on the Wars of the Roses, Anne Neville is usually a background character in historical works, and so it was interesting to have her story told in full. Of course, although the historical details are accurate wherever possible, it is important to remember that this is a fictionalised version of a true story – dialogue is almost always made up, as are certain events.

What is really interesting about The Kingmaker’s Daughter and the series as a whole, is that Gregory changes the readers sympathies with each novel. When I read The White Queen, I was absolutely pro-York and pro-Elizabeth Woodville, but The Red Queen made me question that, despite Margaret Beaufort not being a very sympathetic lead character. The Lady of the Rivers put me back to pro-York, but now The Kingmaker’s Daughter has made me doubt that again, as Anne is buffeted about between the factions at the whim of her father. Gregory has a talent for making her reader sympathize with her main character, regardless of your previous views. This is a realization I’ve only really come to after reading The Kingmaker’s Daughter, and I think that this is the real centre of the series. There is the benefit of opening up history to those who may not know much about this period as well of course, but I think the point is to show that there were no winners in this war, all the women suffered as they lost loved ones and were used as pawns by the men around them. They may have been enemies and hated each other, but ultimately these women were the same, wanting the best for their families, especially their children, and watching as the world crumbled around them.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is perhaps my favourite of the series so far. Anne’s position in the Cousins War, being on different sides and being moved about by those around her, gives a different viewpoint than the previous novels, which were a bit more fixed on one side. She is also slightly more removed from the action than the others, and gives a more objective view of court.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Kingmaker’s Daughter, and I’m sorry that I took so long to get round to reading it. I don’t intend to wait so long to read book five, The White Princess, which is the story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and wife to Henry VII. She is a person who greatly interests me, but even if she weren’t, The Kingmaker’s Daughter has reminded me how much I enjoy Gregory’s writing and how adept she is at presenting her characters.

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Kingmaker's Daughter, The
by Philippa Gregory

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