Review: The Kingmaker's Daughter (The Cousin's War) by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Kingmaker's Daughter
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Touchstone, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. August 2012.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Labels: The War of the Roses, Lancaster, York, England, 15th Century, Kings and Queens of England, Royalty, British History, British Monarchy, The Cousin's War, Great Britain
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 Stars for Excellent
Anne Neville was born 11 June 1456 and died 16 March 1485.
Her father was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, also known as the Kingmaker. Her mother was Anne de Beauchamp. She had one older sibling, Isabel. The Earl of Warwick was a very wealthy nobleman, he owned land and houses. He was a powerful man that exuded both ambition and arrogance. He wanted to be in power. If he could not control the king, he would control the country through his offspring. He was willing to sacrifice all for the sake of his goal. His daughter's Isabel and Anne as young girls were pawns in their father's hands. They obeyed because they had no other choice. They idolized their father, but they were at odds with him. He was a larger than life person. A man that history has not forgotten. As Isabel and Anne grew, they too had ambitions. As females their ambitions were smote against the men they married. Anne wanted to please her father, even after he was gone. For Isabel and Anne their life mission was to give birth to healthy son's. Three York brother's: Edward, George, and Richard, each had ambitions to be King of England. Their ambitions may have taken the form of wanting what was safest for the monarchy and the country. But, they all had varying degrees of craftiness in how to carry out their plan. The women they married held a key part of their plan in having an heir (son) that would adhere their lineage to the throne. The "best" man does not always win, as in a game of chess the person with the best tactic wins. In the later part of The Kingmaker's Daughter we are given a brief introduction to a another ambitious man who is waiting for his moment, a man named Henry Tudor.

  • When the book begins Anne (who is our voice throughout the story) is a young girl. The author does a splendid job in portraying a believable young character. Anne is not confident, she wants to please her mother and father, she feels hidden and unseen behind her older sister.
  • There is never a dull moment in the book, each pages events drew me in with their strength. 
  • I've stated this before in other reviews. Women of previous ages had no voice, and certainly no choice in their life. If they had beauty, or sex appeal, or charm, or intelligence, or wit---these could be used to their advantage; but this was a man's world, and men dominated women. The Kingmaker's Daughter brought this issue out through the story. We see not only in Anne and Isabel, but their mother, mother in-law's, and other women who may have appeared to be dominant; but their fate was sealed by the men who ruled them.
  • One of the authors motives was to look at those in history whom we've been taught to have been the enemy, and instead she showed them as a possible hero. I'll add a possible "believable" hero. Knowing what I know about Richard the III, this was a difficult challenge. I'm not sure the author convinced me, but certainly made me pause to consider this alternative. 
Negative Points:
  • The romance element is not of deep abiding love. Because not at any point did I believe the men loved their women with their entire heart. Their heart belonged to the throne of England, secondly to the people of Britain, then to their children, lastly to their wives. I'm not sure this is necessarily a negative comment on the story, as it was the reality of these characters. I do believe readers should understand this is not and should not be thought of as a book geared as romantic love. The Kingmaker's Daughter is historical fiction with the focus on the Neville, Lancaster and York families.

Link @ Amazon:
Hardcover $16.96
Paperback $10.88 (Will be released April 2013)
Kindle $9.99
These prices are accurate as of 13 December 2012. You might check Target as their hardcover is @ 30% off.