I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book
Elizabeth of York is the oldest daughter of King Edward IV. Flame-haired, beautiful, and sweet-natured, she is adored by her family; yet her life is suddenly disrupted when her beloved father dies in the prime of life. Her uncle, the notorious Richard III, takes advantage of King Edward’s death to grab the throne and imprison Elizabeth’s two younger brothers, the rightful royal heirs. Forever afterwards known as the princes in the tower, the boys are never seen again. On the heels of this tragedy, Elizabeth is subjected to Richard’s overtures to make her his wife, further legitimizing his claim to the throne. King Richard has murdered her brothers, yet she is obliged to accept his proposal.
As if in a fairy tale, Elizabeth is saved by Henry Tudor, who challenges Richard and kills him in the legendary Battle of Bosworth Field. In recognition of his victory, Henry becomes king and asks Elizabeth to be his wife, the first queen of the Tudor line. The marriage is happy and fruitful, not only uniting the warring houses of Lancaster and York–the red and white roses–but resulting in four surviving children, one of whom, Henry VIII, will rule the country for the next thirty-six years.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I read Alison Weir’s (non-fiction!) biography of Elizabeth of York a while back (before I had my blog) and loved it, so I was interested to see how she tackled the same topic in fiction. I’ve also read (again pre-blog) Phillipa Greggory’s novel based on Elizabeth of York’s life, so was curious how their takes differed.
This novel follows her from early childhood, fleeing to sanctuary with her mother during the wars of the roses, all the way to her death. It charts the many ups and downs of her life, and the many losses she suffered. The voice grows with her across the book, maturing from a little girl with more simplistic language and outlook, to a grown woman.
You can tell how much this has been researched, steeped in Weir’s other role as a historian – and all the research done for the non-fiction book written on her. It comes out in all the little details about the court and the daily lives, superstitions and offhand remarks that are clearly references to actual historical evidence.
The thing with historical novels is that everyone has their own opinions of the events and that can colour their reading. For example, while I don’t think Richard III was the “misunderstood” person some claim he is, I thought this book came down harder on him than I think he deserves. It’s a good writer who can persuade you to ignore your own opinions for a little while, and Wier did that.
Of course, a book about Elizabeth of York cannot ignore the Princes in the Tower, and I liked how this book tackled that mystery and Elizabeth’s reactions. As Queen, her world was at risk, including her children, if the Warbeck was really her brother – but it would mean her brother was alive. I liked the way the issue didn’t take centre stage of this book, because a lot more happened in her life than just that!
Read my reviews of other books by Alison Weir:
Six Tudor Queens:
- IN THE SHADOW OF QUEENS (Short Stories)