The Kingmaker’s Daughter, Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory’s The Kingmaker’s Daughter, is the story of nine year old Anne, born into the great Neville family and destined to be the Queen of England, going through hell and heaven, fulfilling her dreams and dying untimely at 28.

The novel spanning more than 400 pages has a magnetic appeal. Philippa’s easy prose, mesmerized me from the very first chapter.

As young Anne Warwick, I was also enthralled by the magnificence of English Court. The scene is of Edward the Fourth’s marriage and coronation of his commoner Queen Elizabeth Woodville. Edward the York Prince has newly secured the English crown by overthrowing the Lancaster’s Henry and his powerful wife Margaret of Anjou.

Anne’s father Lord of Warwick Richard Neville is Edward’s mentor, adviser, king maker. And yet as the novel begins, tension is building up between Edward and Richard, owing to Elizabeth Woodville. Little Anne is smitten with the beautiful Queen and yet apprehensive about her intentions. Her older sister Isabel openly defies the Queen’s charisma and their Lady Mother is surreptitiously disdainful of the new Queen and her large family of Rivers.

Quite an interesting beginning, I must say. Gregory created an opulent setting, full of intrigues and political knots in her historical fiction. Siblings rivalry, hidden clues, forged alliances, were a constant theme throughout the novel based on the power politics of York brothers.

As the story is told from the point of view of Anne Warwick, we get an inside working of her family, her father’s greed, her mother’s cold ambition and her sister’s hunger for being a Queen. As Anne grows from the wide-eyed nine year old to the lithe 15 year old widow, my heart went out to her. She became a pawn in her father’s hands, who thrusted her into a loveless marriage with the exiled Lancaster Prince.

However there is no greater teacher than grief and misfortune. And as the story progressed, Anne learns the political tangles and gains center stage. Steadily rising up, she becomes the Queen of England by marrying the youngest York brother Richard. Their marriage is the fruit of love, hushed up affair and a secret exchange of vow. And yet the couple do act as politically correct individuals than love birds. I guess the Royalty has a price to pay. They could not relay their fears in public, hate Elizabeth Woodville openly, and yet continue to act in their best interests, while defending their legacy.

The story though set in 15th Century, is a mirror image of our modern society. The artificiality of social connections, women’s insecurities, their constant familial struggle and envy owing to lovers, husbands, children, are some of the issues, that run deep even today.

The novel is mostly imaginary, though the setting, events and personage are historical. However Philippa does acknowledge in her author’s note that while writing the story from Anne’s point of view, she has taken liberty and added details on her own. And to tell you the truth, this has lent the novel a great romantic appeal. Love, lust, intrigues, ambitions, greed, sorcery, connivance, treason.. there is so much to lap up in this book.

If you haven’t read about the House of York, do brush up your knowledge. It would help to understand the characters and events better. Though, even without knowing the history, the novel can easily be enjoyed as an interesting Royal account.

After a long long time, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading a paperback. Eager to read more from Philippa Gregory’s mighty pen.

Leave a Reply