Friday, November 07, 2008

The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy

The Story of Anne of York

Genre: Historical Fiction

Copyright: 1990
Pages: 464
My Rating: 3.5 stars

In 1470, a reluctant Lady Anne Neville is betrothed by her father, the politically ambitious Earl of Warwick, to Edward, Prince of Wales. A gentle yet fiercely intelligent woman, Anne has already given her heart to the prince’s younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Unable to oppose her father’s will, she finds herself in line for the throne of England—an obligation that she does not want. Yet fate intervenes when Edward is killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Anne suddenly finds herself free to marry the man she loves—and who loves her in return. The ceremony is held at Westminster Abbey, and the duke and duchess make a happy home at Middleham Castle, where both spent much of their childhood. Their life is idyllic, until the reigning king dies and a whirlwind of dynastic maneuvering leads to his children being declared illegitimate. Richard inherits the throne as King Richard III, and Anne is crowned queen consort, a destiny she thought she had successfully avoided. Her husband’s reign lasts two years, two months, and two days—and in that short time Anne witnesses the true toll that wearing the crown takes on Richard, the last king from the House of York.

I did enjoy the story of Lady Anne Neville (Anne of York) told in first person narrative. In 15th Century England the War of the Roses has ended, the war between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England. With the support of the Earl of Warwick (the Kingmaker), King Henry VI of the house of Lancaster is deposed by the charismatic King Edward IV, former Duke of York. Anne the daughter of the Earl of Warwick goes on to become Queen of England as the wife of King Richard III (Edward's brother).

Not a descriptive tale, Plaidy's factual writing style is quite emotionless but certainly informative and conducive to reading more of that period. This style also worked in Plaidy's depiction of Richard, a portrayal without the rumour and innuendo that usually surrounds King Richard III. As much as I did like the novel, it was an interesting read but I was not emotionally drawn in, hence my reason for not giving this book 4 stars.


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