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The fourth (and last for me until The White Princess comes out in paperback) in the Cousins War series covers the life of Ann Neville, daughter of infamous Kingmaker Earl of Warwick Richard Neville, a man who’s daughters were part of his master plan from the moment they were born.
The beauty of this book is having read the first three you go into it pretty much knowing the story and how everything will turn out. The trick is then to repeat yourself without getting boring. I enjoyed this as much of the others although I do feel sorry for young Ann. Married off to Edward, Prince in exile at the age of 14 and widowed shortly after she was then kept pretty much imprisoned by her sister Isobel and husband King Edwards brother George (the one who keeps committing treason and being forgiven) until she makes the decision to marry the York’s little brother Richard. Sadly she believes she is standing up for herself and making her own decisions however you can’t help thinking how much of it was a very clever ploy by Richard. After all although ultimately unproven this is the man who is often blamed for murdering the Princes in the tower and who stole the throne from his young nephew (whilst he was locked in the tower). A lot of his bad reputation lies at the hands of Shakespeare centuries later but you can’t help thinking of the cliché “no smoke without fire”.
Short version then – I think he may have just been very good at mind games and she fell for it believing it was her decision all along. Young Ann didn’t really do much else after that. She became queen alongside Richard but spent pretty much all of that time beset with paranoia that Elizabeth Woodville was trying to do away with her whole family. Then her son died and stricken with grief she eventually passed away shortly after. Not a happy life in all.
So of the four I actually found my favourite of these women was Jacquetta Woodville surprisingly seeing as it’s the book I least wanted to read. Possibly because this was a woman with possible witchcraft connections and links to Joan of Arc but also because her story was a change from the repeats of the others, more of a prequel to events to come. What about you?
All in all I have really enjoyed this series and it has started a love of historical fiction that I didn’t have before. I managed to pick up another Gregory book – The Other Boleyn Girl – from a local charity shop and am interested in seeing how that story unfolds. However I think I’ll take a short break from her works to go through the 30 odd pile of books currently taking up space on my stairs (I ran out of room on the bookcases!) Now I just need to decide where to start!