The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.
At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.
I am a very big fan of Philippa Gregory’s novel, and this one certainly lived up to its expectations. Anne Neville is someone I knew practically nothing about, and it’s interesting to see how PG chooses to focus on people that have often been neglected during the course of history. There are countless books on Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I for instance, but there are so many other fascinating women out there whose stories are waiting to be told.
What I love about this Cousins’ War series in general is that it’s teaching me so much about the Wars of the Roses, a topic I was vaguely familiar with, but didn’t know much about. The way PG writes her characters is an interesting one. My view on them has often changed radically from one book to the next. The White Queen for instance, made Elizabeth Woodville an interesting and likeable character that I sympathised with, and this fourth installment made her the epitome of all that is evil in the world (this is slightly exaggerated, but I’m trying to make a point here). The same goes for Jacquetta Rivers and Margaret Beaufort. It’s very nifty to be able to write several books that partially cover the same topic but with a different background story and a different main character, and make each of them as interesting as the previous one. Once again PG has managed to do this very well.
I don’t think I will ever tire of reading her novels, and I’m already counting down the days until her next novel, The White Princess!