This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Alphabet in Historical Fiction Challenge: A

Historical Tapestry is hosting a wonderful new challenge and I'm excited to participate! Each fortnight they will post a new letter of the alphabet and you do a blog post about a work of historical fiction that has that letter:
  • as the first letter in the title
  • as the first letter of the author's first or last name
  • the first letter of a character's first or last name
  • the first letter of a place where an historical event took place
So here is my post for the first letter of this challenge: A

The Reluctant Queen, Jean Plaidy

This is one of the novels in Plaidy's "Queens of England series" and tells the story of the life of Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker and wife to King Richard III.

From the back cover:

In 1470, a reluctant Anne Neville is bethrothed 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 Tewksbury. 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 spend 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.

Yes, I realize there is an error in all that. Richard of Gloucester was not the younger brother of Edward, Prince of Wales to whom Anne was engaged; he was the younger brother of Edward of York. That is not my error but merely what was printed on the back cover of the book.

Aside from that, this was a nice look into the life of Anne Neville. The excerpt on the back leaves out hints of all that Anne had to endure before she was able to marry Richard and the losses they suffered once he became king. Plaidy paints the relationship between Richard and Anne as very loving and affectionate, both having fallen for the other during their childhoods growing up together. While some believe this wasn't the case, it makes for a very sweet and touching storyline. This story really looks into Anne's thoughts and feelings about the events taking place in the world around her and how she is thrust into many of them against her will. Being a woman in that time period, she was schooled to not question the decisions of the men in her life but that certainly did not stop her from having her own opinions about them. I am not going to post a full review here as I plan on doing one in a separate post at a later date but I really enjoyed reading about Anne's life. It was well written and very interesting. Since reading Plaidy's version of the story I have read several others that portray Anne and Richard in many different lights, but most of them seem to gloss over Anne, merely mentioning her when she had to mentioned; it was nice to read something that was solely about her as I find her a very interesting person in all the mess surrounding the struggle for the throne. This was my first exposure to Richard III and was the beginning of my interest (obsession??) in finding out more about his life.


  1. I am so glad that you decided to focus on a character like Anne!

    Thanks for playing along with us at HT!

  2. A lot of authors seem to go with the 'childhood sweethearts' thing for Richard and Anne. I do wonder if it was true.

  3. I have this book and I need to take it off my dusty Jean Plaidy shelf.... sounds good!!
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. As far as the magic, don't you think it would be nice for Hester have and use on all the hypocrites who made her life miserable??? A little what goes around comes around???

  4. I was once a HUGE Jean Plaidy fan, and I'd like to pick it up again sometime. This book looks terrific.

  5. I think that a long time ago when I first read this or others like it was when I first became interested in Richard III too. Fascinating period of English history,