Title: The Kingmaker's Daughter
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins' War Book 4
Year published: 2012
Time It Took To Read: A dreary afternoon
The latest Cousins War book concentrates on Anne Neville, daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. He was known as the Kingmaker, due to his key role in overthrowing Henry VI and putting Edward IV on the throne. He wanted to be the power behind the throne, and used his daughters to enable that, choosing to marry one daughter - Isabel - to the King's brother, and the other - Anne - (when the tides turned), to Henry VI's only son. Gregory implies that his eventual aim was to get one of his daughters on the throne, so he could continue to control things after Edward IV's secret marriage (covered in The White Queen) to Elizabeth Woodville altered the dynamic of court.
This was a much better read than the last in the series. Gregory admits there is little contemporary evidence for Anne's actions and reasons, but manages to weave a convincing narrative that places Anne at the heart of events, explaining her second marriage and gradual determination to stop being a pawn in men's games. The book is also littered with heartbreak - the birth of Isabel's first child made me weep, and I so rarely show any emotion. I mean, I had PMT, but even so.
I really enjoy this series primarily because it covers a period of history which is mainly known for battles and politics. Gregory manages to inject feminism into a wholly misogynist period, whilst also making the familial relationships obvious, and giving these shadowy characters life. It is a shame that the book was written before the body of Richard III was confirmed to suffer scoliosis, as it is dismissed as weakness and witchcraft. It seems that Gregory aims to put the death of the Princes in the Tower at Henry VII's feet. As the final book, The White Princess, concerns his eventual wife, this may be mostly for dramatic effect.
I look forward to reading the final book when it comes out in paperback, and seeing how the strands of story meet in the end.
Book count: 23/50