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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy

Genre: Historical Fiction

Released 2007

Pages: 464

Rating: 5 Crowns

Jean Plaidy’s The Reluctant Queen is the story of Anne of York, wife to King Richard III. Anne was born the second daughter to the Earl of Warwick, also known as "The Kingmaker" and along with her sister Isabel, was one of the greatest heiresses in the country. Unfortunately, being an heiress also means you are little more than a pawn, to be moved hither and thither at the fancy of others.

Anne’s father Warwick was an ambitious, austere man and as he had helped place Edward IV on the throne, he was known as “The Kingmaker”. Being so close to the royal family, Anne grew up around the king’s brothers, George (Duke of Clarence) and Richard (Duke of Gloucester) at the Warwick home of Middleham. Middleham would prove to be a big part of Anne’s life, as she and Richard would live there years later as husband and wife – it was the place they always considered home, the place where their affection for each other began.

The amiable relationship between Warwick and King Edward comes to an end when Edward secretly marries a commoner (and some say witch), Elizabeth Woodville – thus eradicating all the hard work Warwick had put into negotiating with France for a bride for Edward. It was a blatant lack of respect for all that he had done for Edward. So, now that Warwick has lost his puppet, he moves on to the next in line to the throne, Edward’s brother, George. One way he did that was marry his eldest daughter Isabel to George. However, over time he proves himself unworthy of a crown and Warwick turns sides, to Lancaster. He approaches Margaret of Anjou and sets before her a proposal, he will help her overthrow Edward and place Henry VI back on the throne and he secures the agreement with the betrothal of Anne and Prince Edward, Margaret and Henry’s son, the heir to Lancaster. Anne is terrified. She was brought up to hate the Lancastrians and now she is forced to marry the son of her father's worst enemies. As collateral Anne is placed in the care of Margaret of Anjou. A serious and formidable woman, she is quite the opposite of Anne….however, during Anne's time with Margaret they form a bond. Margaret can relate to Anne’s sadness at being apart from her family and her feeling of fear for marrying a stranger and though she is the daughter of her enemy, Margaret comes to care for her.

Warwick and the Lancastrians succeed in defeating York, King Edward is taken prisoner and Henry VI is back on the throne. The celebration, however, is short lived - Warwick loses his life at the Battle of Barnet and Prince Edward dies at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Margaret of Anjou is taken prisoner and Anne is reunited with her sister, Isabel and placed in the care of her brother-in-law, the shady Duke of Clarence. Now that Anne is free of her betrothal, she and Richard are free to marry. They make their home at Middleham, where they raise their son, a frail child named Edward.

When King Edward dies, Richard is named Lord Protector, in charge of protecting the heirs to the throne. After certain facts come to light, Edward’s two sons are declared bastards and the crown passes to Richard. Anne’s biggest fear is realized, she is now Queen. This is a role she has never wanted – her only dream was to live quietly at Middleham and away from the treachery at court. Never a robust woman, Anne is only in her early 30s (and 2 years a Queen) when she dies. Sadly, she passed with doubts of Richard’s love in her heart and amidst rumors of Richard courting his niece, Elizabeth of York.

While Anne of York’s story is far from envious, it is a story worth knowing.


Daphne said...

This is one Plaidy book that I haven' read yet. I hope to get to it soon - thanks for the review!

Teddyree said...

I'd forgotten that I'd read this one, I enjoyed it & certainly found it conducive to reading more of this period but Plaidy's writing style didn't allow me to connect emotionally.

Sharon said...

I'm going to have to read some of Plaidy's books! This one sounds interesting.

Unknown said...

I haven't read this plaidy - but then I have only read 3 of her books. Sounds quite interesting - and I don't know anything about this time period. Thanks.

Blodeuedd said...

Truly sounds worth reading, sad story too

Unknown said...

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Jenny Girl said...

Oh what a sad story! Excellent review because I knew nothing of this woman and now I feel very bad for her, poor thing.

ibeeeg said...

I read The King's Daughter which has made me interested in Richard and Ann. I have read one book by Plaidy and I could not connect. Maybe it was the story itself. I will try to give Plaidy another go so I will put this book onto my to-read list.
Thanks for the wonderful review.

Marg said...

I love reading about Richard III, but I don't recall having read a Plaidy book aobu thim. I might have done in high school but I dont think so.

Kirthi said...

I discovered your blog, and it's positively ROYAL! I love it!


i know a bit about this time period but would love to learn more and this sounds like it would be such. thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

I have this book and somehow just have not read it. Well, it's going to the top of the pile. I love historical fiction and after reading your review have decided to put in next in my pile. Thanks for the reminder of whay looks like a really great read.