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The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy

The Reluctant Queen (1990)

by Jean Plaidy

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Many history lovers are familiar with the general story of Richard III, but less so with his queen consort, Anne Neville. As their lives are quite intertwined from the beginning, this story really follows the two of them from early childhood through their adulthood, marriage, and beyond.

The book talks a lot about the political climate during this time in British history – we cover threats from the Lancastrians, to the York reign, back to plots against the Yorkists from a variety of individuals. It’s a wonder that Richard was even able to hold onto the throne for as long as he was, given the fact that his beloved brother, Edward IV, had so many problems despite his popularity.

To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog. ( )
  dorolerium | Jun 11, 2012 |
Anne Neville, second – born daughter of Richard, the Earl of Warwick met Richard at Middleham Castle when they were young children. Anne immediately befriended the reserved and frail-looking boy. The bond and friendship they shared grew into a relationship of caring, trust and love that would eventually bring them to marriage, a coronation, a son, to culminate with the early death of Anne, at age 42.

Of course in between all of this we relive the making (by the Kingmaker Warwick, Anne’s father) of Edward lV; the descent of Henry Vl, the Woodvilles, Margaret of Anjou, the treasons and the tragic deaths. As fate would have it, nothing went smoothly. It was, after all, the time of the War of the Roses…

I very much enjoyed this book as it took me through Edward lV’s reign and the details of his family, which of course included his brother Richard. Much of Richard’s personality is seen through the eyes of Anne, as are the rest of the characters in this novel. Consequently, I began seeing many of the historical figures encountered in this novel, from a different perspective. Anne was a keen judge of characters who portrays Richard as a loyal brother to the King, as well as a fair and just man, but, also a caring and devoted husband. Anne immediately recognizes Richard’s brother, George, who was also her sister’s husband, as the devious and scheming character that he was. Through Anne’s eyes, I became a loyal Yorkist who admired King Edward and his charming good ways. Margaret of Anjou, detested at first, became an understanding woman capable of showing compassion and care when Anne became close to her during her short betrothal to this Queen’s son. I despised the whole Woodville clan, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, Edward lV’s Queen.

Anne Neville, in all her simplicity, succeeded in being admired by all. She was a loving and loyal wife to whom Richard confided all his worries and intentions. She was a doting mother who cared and worried constantly for the health of her son. Her own health was very frail but this did not keep her from wanting to be by her husband and son and fulfilling all of her duties. Towards the end of the book is where Anne’s personality takes on a less affirmative role. Much of her self confidence is lost to the persuasion that Richard wants to be rid of her, only to replace her by his own niece, Elizabeth of York, King Edward’s daughter.

This obsession consumes her as she slowly convinces herself that the only reason Richard ever married her, was for her to produce an heir to his throne. Towards the very end of the novel there is a climatic moment revealing much of what Anne suspects of both Richard and Elizabeth, his niece. Plaidy ties this exceptionally well by setting the mood; where anticipated celebration is destroyed by what Anne believes to be obvious deception. I felt her torment, and her spirit crush.

The story moved along at a very good pace. I must admit though, that some transitions seemed a bit ‘cut-off’ (especially in cases of tragic moments and deaths). These, I believe could have used a few more lines that would have made the episode much less mechanical, while providing the reader with more feeling for the moment. On the other hand, a story with such tremendous continuous evolvement could not have been told without these needed constraints.

The title for this novel is perfectly suited. No other word but ‘Reluctant’ could have better described how Anne felt as a Queen. Plaidy delivered once again in terms of historical accuracy and depiction of characters; even when seen from another perspective. Although The Reluctant Queen was not passionate enough to move me to tears, this Plaidy novel is outstanding in terms of capturing the historical essence of the time. I would highly recommend this book to anyone needing clarification of the many historical figures and events that happened during the War of the Roses (which can, at times, be so confusing). ( )
  LucyB. | Aug 25, 2009 |
This is the story of the wife of Richard III of England. Although he is often cast as a villain in history, in this book he is more tragic, misguided, but well intentioned than anything else. Anne and Richard fell in love as children, and due to a series of strange circumstances, are able to marry. However, when Richard unexpectedly comes into power, the happy life the couple built for themselves is thrown into disarray and they find that positions of power are perhaps not all they are cracked up to be.

Quote: "My thoughts were all for Richard and some time later I was to hear the truth of all this from his lips. Then I learned how near he had come to failure; and had things gone against him at this time our lives might have turned out to be entirely different."

This is a pretty good historical novel - even though the princes in the tower are only vaguely referenced toward the end of the work, enough evidence is presented throughout the narrative that the reader is presented with a large number of people who could be responsible for the deaths of the heirs to the English throne. Richard III is the last monarch from the house of York, and the events before and after his death lead to the famous Tudors coming into power, and many were working for this possibility. Overall I found it to be very balanced - Richard is neither a monster, nor a saint, just a basically decent guy who is altered by power. ( )
  mhleigh | Jul 28, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307346153, Paperback)

In 1470, a reluctant Lady Anne Neville is betrothed by her father, the politically ambitious Earl of Warwick, to Edward, Prince of Wales. A gentle yet fiercely intelligent woman, Anne has already given her heart to the prince’s younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Unable to oppose her father’s will, she finds herself in line for the throne of England—an obligation that she does not want. Yet fate intervenes when Edward is killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Anne suddenly finds herself free to marry the man she loves—and who loves her in return. The ceremony is held at Westminster Abbey, and the duke and duchess make a happy home at
Middleham Castle, where both spent much of their childhood. Their life is idyllic, until the reigning king dies and a whirlwind of dynastic maneuvering leads to his children being declared illegitimate. Richard inherits the throne as King Richard III, and Anne is crowned queen consort, a destiny she thought she had successfully avoided. Her husband’s reign lasts two years, two months, and two days—and in that short time Anne witnesses the true toll that wearing the crown takes on Richard, the last king from the House of York.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Offers a fictionalized account of Anne Neville, daughter of the "kingmaker," the Earl of Warwick, who became a pawn of court intrigues and, eventually, Queen through her marriage to Richard III.

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