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The Virgin Widow by Anne O'Brien
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The Virgin Widow

by Anne O'Brien

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1853163,896 (3.81)3
  1. 10
    The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman (lollypop917)
    lollypop917: Follows the life of Richard III
  2. 00
    The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (tina1969)
  3. 00
    A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: The War of the Roses from Elizabeth Woodville's point of view.
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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
3.5 stars This book takes a different look at the Wars of the Roses, told mainly as a love story. I liked the way Anne Neville and Richard Duke of Gloucester were portrayed and how their relationship developed, although that part is no more than conjecture. The author did stick closely to historical facts, although overall historical events took a backseat to Anne's personal story. As a love story, I enjoyed the book and I thought it was a good read and well written.

There were a few things that let the book down and lowered my rating. While a lot of effort and detail went into the characters of Anne and Richard, the same cannot be said for some other protagonists. Margaret of Anjou and her son Edward in particular were simply evil without any other characteristics. There was also a suggestion of incest that was quite unnecessary and didn't actually lead anywhere. I also found it odd that Anne would refer to her parents as the Earl and Countess throughout the book. Lastly, my edition didn't have any historical notes, which I think are an important part for any serious work of historical fiction.

I liked it, but didn't love it. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
3.5 Stars...

Anne O'Brien's Virgin Widow tells the story of Anne Neville from her early years as the daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick until the birth of her son with Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Although little is known about Anne Neville's life, using the tumultuous years of the Wars of the Roses as a backdrop, O'Brien is able to bring this little known figure to life. She is portrayed as a strong and likeable young woman, one who has to endure an unhappy marriage to the Prince of Wales, son of Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI, as well as the disintegration and division of her family in the struggle between the Yorks and the Lancasters for the throne of England, before eventually finding happiness and contentment with Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

As a love story this novel is entirely satisfying. Anne Neville and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, are well drawn and engaging. In addition, their love story is developed in such a way as to be entirely plausible. Unfortunately, I was not expecting a love story to be the principal focus of this novel when I picked it up. The synopsis I read prior to purchasing the novel led me to believe this book would focus more on the political aspects of the era in which Anne Neville lived rather than the romantic. The political is definitely discussed - it would be difficult to write a novel about the Neville's of this era without it - but it rarely takes centre stage and, as a result, this aspect of the novel didn't fulfil my expectations. The author states in her author's note that the book is meant as a romance, but the note was placed at the end of the book so I didn't read it until I'd already finished the novel. I wish I'd known this going into reading the novel, as I would have adjusted my expectations accordingly.

Despite the novel not being entirely what I expected it would be, I still enjoyed it overall. I thought the story flowed well and moved quickly and, while I felt certain secondary characters were poorly fleshed out or too black and white, the main characters were quite well-developed. With respect to events and peoples of the Wars of the Roses period, O'Brien stuck closely to known historical fact. My only criticism of the novel relates to certain speculation taken by the author with respect to the nature of the relationship between Margaret of Anjou and her son, Prince Edward. I felt the nature of the relationship postulated by the author was far too sensational - it has no basis in historical fact and detracted from the storyline rather than enhancing it. In fact, this one bit of sensationalism is the reason this novel became a 3.5-star read for me rather than a 4-star one.

I recommend this novel to readers interested in getting a general overview of the Wars of the Roses period or to those looking for a nice historical love story.
( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book, but apparently it wasn't memorably enough because I should have done the book review when I finished reading it instead of waiting a month. The book really did grab me though and I didn't want to put it down. ( )
  mtunquist | Nov 29, 2015 |
I enjoyed this book, but apparently it wasn't memorably enough because I should have done the book review when I finished reading it instead of waiting a month. The book really did grab me though and I didn't want to put it down. ( )
  mtunquist | Nov 29, 2015 |
Anne Neville is on my list of favorite queens - I prefer the outrageous and the neglected ones, hence Eleanor of Aquitaine and Anne Neville being way up there on the notepad. Anne O'Brien's story of the early life of Anne Neville (or Nevill), youngest daughter of celebrated earl Richard Neville of Warwick, aka "The Kingmaker," was refreshing, different and followed the historical timeline with artistic license. The histories are silent regarding Richard the Third's queen save that she was a political pawn during the Wars of Roses and she may or may not have been a childhood sweetheart of Richard. We are shown Anne's life as the daughter of the second most powerful magnate in England during the early reign of Edward IV, her exile as a result of her father's political blunders, her betrothal/marriage to Edward of Wales, son of Henry VI, and yet another turn as a political pawn as Edward's younger brothers, George of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester squabble over her portion of the Nevill inheritance after the death of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet.

Ms. O'Brien does not give us a doe-eyed, suffering, victim in this Anne. She is compliant with her father's wishes, to be sure - she had no choice - but she shows strength and dignity in spite of all that is thrown at her, especially when she is forced to live with Queen Marguerite of Anjou and Edward and is witness to a royal household living in exile, living on the brink of destruction as the Queen tries to reclaim England for her husband and son, and Anne can do nothing. I enjoyed Ms. O'Brien's portrayal of Richard, duke of Gloucester who would later become King Richard the Third. He is enigmatic, quiet, a volcano not quite ready to explode and sure of his means and methods in getting what he wants. Shakespeare portrayed him as a dark, sinister, character and some of that legend is given to us, but with interesting twists - I won't spoil it for you - that I thought made the well-known story of Richard and Anne more interesting. He is sympathetic, but no angel. Anne's legendary 'disappearance' in London is also a part of the story and again, Ms. O'Brien tells a different story than I've read in the past and again, I loved it. Anne Nevill tells her own story and the prose is straightforward, real, and enjoyable, as is the dialogue without Anne, the Lancasters, the Yorks, sounding or playing out like a cable-TV soap opera. I would love it if Ms. O'Brien wrote the rest of Anne's story, sad though it was, especially if it gave us the struggles and heartbreak that fell upon Anne after Richard seized the throne in 1483. Yes, I recommend this book and it's going on my 'read-it-again' shelf. ( )
  ELEkstrom | Jun 6, 2013 |
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For my husband, George. In gratitude for his enduring support, and his faith in me and Anne Neville.
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Isabel whimpered.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The story of Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick and queen to Richard III, during the bloody War of the Roses.

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