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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I really enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction but the Wars of the Roses is a period I am not so familiar with but like a lot of people I tended to think of Richard 111 as an evil figure with a hump and a limp as depicted in the Shakespeare play. Not so in this version - in fact quite the opposite! He comes over as a loyal, charming and hansome (yes, hansome!)...
Published on 10 Mar 2012 by Anne Davis

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but too romantic for me
Oh dearie me I should have been forewarned by other reviewers. If you want a romance set in the fifteenth century then this is for you but if you want to get some insight into the life of Anne Neville leave well alone.

Have to admit the author does a good job with the historical side of things - as accurate in the confines of fiction as she can be. She gives a...
Published 15 months ago by Julia


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but too romantic for me, 9 Jan 2013
This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
Oh dearie me I should have been forewarned by other reviewers. If you want a romance set in the fifteenth century then this is for you but if you want to get some insight into the life of Anne Neville leave well alone.

Have to admit the author does a good job with the historical side of things - as accurate in the confines of fiction as she can be. She gives a good telling of the conflicts etc of Edward lV's reign and clearly knows her stuff.

What a pity that it is the main theme that lets the story down. O'Brien has clearly set out to write a love story and a love story is what you get! And how verbose this gets - pages & pages of angst from Anne - does Richard love me, has he forgotten me, why doesn't he say he loves me, should I marry him, why don't I know what he's thinking - oh for for heaven's sake, this was worthy of the Twilight saga!! On many occcasion I felt like giving this Anne Neville a real shake.

Even though written in the first person (again not one I like for this genre) I felt I never got to know Anne as a person, but only as someone wishing for the stars. The real AN was a shadowy figure, unfortunately, who was the perennial pawn in the political world of powerful men, as were many heiresses & noble women of the time. Regardless of any emotional attachment her marriage to Richard was probably the best decision she ever made - it secured her inheritance not only for him but also for her. Otherwise she would have lost everything. I doubt the real Anne would have hesitated!! I would like to think there was some affection - they had some shared experiences as family members & at Middleham after all. Nonetheless she was a child of her times too and would have seen the expediency of such a marriage - if only to secure a future away from Clarence and/or a convent.

The first person writing never let us see the other characters in any other way than good or bad according to AN's point of view which I felt limiting. Richard's character was a little more rounded as she questioned his actions quite frequently and he had to defend or justify them. I didn't quite understand her abhorence when she thought he had 'murdered' Prince Edward, who was depicted as utterly objectionable. In reality Anne had undergone an arranged marriage to an 'enemy', suffered humiliation at the court of Margaret of Anjou, had heard of the death of her father & the apparent loss of her mother, had suffered the aftermath Tewkesbury, had been imprisoned & hidden quite dispicably by Clarence, and been threatened with loss of inheritance - I doubt whether the question of who killed her first husband would have been really at the forefront of her mind. Especially when Richard, too all intents & purposes had rescued her & was offering back the life that she thought she had lost!!

But of course this is a love story and we must have the 'will she/won't she marry him' convention. All I wanted to say - if you don't want him, let someone else have a go, he's a pretty good catch compared to the alternative!

What a shame this could have been such a good tale of Anne Neville, albeit of necessity a work of fiction as so few facts about her life survive, but at 600+ pages and all the aforementioned angst, it didn't really deliver. For me the too long too romantic format swamped the historical value.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars less romance please, more oomph!, 22 July 2011
By 
J. Turner (Wales) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
I have mixed feelings about this book to be fair. Although Anne O'Brien does a good job in telling the story of Anne Neville, and quickly elicits the reader's sympathy for the young woman who is just another pawn in the Wars of the Roses, the story irritated me for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, is the use of first person, which means the POV is limited. Although we are very (perhaps overly) aware of Anne's feelings, our view of Richard, Duke of Gloucester and soon to be King, is occluded by romanticism. Secondly, the book ends rather abruptly, and the fact that Anne and her child did not live long is glossed over, which is odd, considering that Richard was accused by his contemporaries of being complicit in her death. So the story of Anne Neville is not fully told, which is rather a shame. To balance this, we have the reasons that AN was a 'virgin widow' handled extremely well, as was the legend of her disguised as a kitchen maid, and the glimpse we do get of Richard shows him in a more kindly light than history has allowed. However, none of the characters apart from Anne are fully developed, Margaret of Anjou being two dimensional, though the hint of incest with her son was an interesting idea, perhaps a little more attention there might have rounded both those characters out. Having also read the authors book on Eleanor of Acquitaine, I would respectfully suggest that her next book leave first person alone!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 10 Mar 2012
By 
Anne Davis (Gloucester UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction but the Wars of the Roses is a period I am not so familiar with but like a lot of people I tended to think of Richard 111 as an evil figure with a hump and a limp as depicted in the Shakespeare play. Not so in this version - in fact quite the opposite! He comes over as a loyal, charming and hansome (yes, hansome!) man who you begin to like more and more as the story unfolds. It is his brother, the Duke of Clarence who appears as the villain of the piece. Well, who knows which version is the nearest to the truth but it does make for an excellent read and I am now keen to read more books about Richard and the whole of this troubled period of history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Philippa Gregory but give it time, 13 Feb 2013
This review is from: Virgin Widow (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book and the other two I have since read by this author. When I first saw the 'better than Philippa Gregory' sticker on the book I was more than skeptical as I've seen it used before and ended up binning the books. Now, Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite authors ( although not her latest books I must say so this was a tall call by anyones standard BUT, Anne O'Brien is actually very good and very similar in her style to the early PG Tudor books, not as historically accurate and quite romantic but very enjoyable. For me, much more readable than The Sunne in Splendour which was very heavy going. I hope she continues to write like this as she has a new fan in me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars virgin widow, 1 July 2013
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super book, in sequence with white queen, red queen etc. very vivid descriptions. you feel as though you are there
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expect a romance and not a historical novel (SPOILER WARNING), 22 Dec 2010
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
O'Brien takes a new spin on the early life of Anne Neville, daughter of the mighty Earl of Warwick, "The Kingmaker". Both Anne and her sister Isabel are major prizes on the marriage market (and must marry where papa says), but Anne has her heart set on a Plantagenet husband, childhood *friend* Richard, younger brother of Edward IV. Getting her heart's desire isn't quite so easy as there's this little dispute going on now known as The Wars of the Roses (or The Cousin's War as Phillipa Gregory has decided to rename it). This is a very complicated period (read more on Wik), but for our intents and purposes, Warwick and Isabel's husband George, Duke of Clarence, get miffed at King Edward, turn their coats, hightail it to France and throw in their lot with Margaret of Anjou. George thinks he'd make a better king than older brother Edward, but Warwick's changed his tune and marries Anne of to Margaret's son Edward of Lancaster, who is or is not the Prince of Wales depending on whether you are a York or a Lancaster.

Confused? I told you trying to explain this was complicated. SPOILER WARNING going forward. Much of this is known history to those familiar with the period, but for those new to the party it might seem like I'm spilling the beans, so be warned.

Anne's narrative covers her early years, her marriage to Lancaster, the failed attempts to reclaim England for the Lancasters and subsequent trials and tribulations as a consequence of her father's treasonous plots. This book does not cover Anne's years as Richard's queen, the plots of that Grasping Henry Tudor, nor the events leading up to Bosworth Field. Cutting it off where she did gives the author an opening for a HEA, but you'll just have to read it for yourself to see if Anne gets it.

While not necessarily a bad book, those looking for insight into Anne will likely be very disappointed. From what I gathered at the author's comments at the end (an interview of sorts, not notes), this was written more with romance in mind and that is what you are going to get. As for O'Brien's writing itself and her take on the period, I do have a few quibbles. Written in the first person narrative (not a favorite of mine) set some limits on recounting back history for the reader and I was scratching my head a time or two when Anne had long conversations with Richard about past events both of them should know perfectly well. Anne refers to her parents as the Earl and the Countess more often than mother and father, and that is both in her *thoughts* and in private conversations with her sister. Odd, that. As a very well-born medieval lady, Anne should know that marriage is about duty and making powerful alliances and not about *twu wuv*, yet she's constantly stamping her feet when Richard doesn't declare his true feelings - dangit by this time she's in a serious political pickle and anyone with a brain in her head should be jumping at the best offer she's ever going to see.

Anne's little episode as a kitchen maid (known history, I am not spoiling) is given an unusual twist, and by the end images of Disney's Cinderella and Prince Charming were stuck in my head and never let go. All of the baddies are easily recognizable by their "feral" smiles, and that includes Margaret who is given a plot twist that will probably inflame the die-hard Ricardians. That said, I do give the author kudos for giving Anne some backbone, as well as a more rounded Richard without the sugar-coated-to-the-point-of-vomit-inducing-perfection we've seen so much from other authors write Richard.

All in all, not a bad book by any means, and should do nicely for readers new to the period and looking to get your feet wet. The be-all to end-all book on this period is still Sharon Penman's fabulous The Sunne In Splendour and one I would highly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written tale of love and woe!, 28 Jan 2014
This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
After reading a couple of Anne O'Brien's other works when the opportunity arose to get this one I jumped at it as I have thoroughly enjoyed her work before and this book is no exception, it's totally enjoyable!

In recent years there have been a few books about Anne Neville and her part in the War Of The Roses, most notable probably Philippa Gregory's The Kingmaker's Daughter, which I read and enjoyed too. I must admit that I actually prefer this version of the tale.

The book takes place in the period of Anne's life running up to her marriage to Richard Of Gloucester and as Anne's real life is a bit of a mystery the author has the opportunity to tell the tale in the way she wants and I appreciate that she had chosen the more romantic approach in this instance.

I like this approach for Anne as she probably had a pretty rough life leading up the marriage to Richard. She was pawn to her father's ambition for himself and his family, betrothed several times for political reasons, firstly to Richard of Gloucester, who she has loved since she was a child and then to Edward of Lancaster who she is forced to marry and has no feelings for whatsoever and who has none for her, he still thinks of his new wife as his enemy. She's emotionally tortured my the circumstances she finds herself in, over and over by both her new husband and his mother until she finds herself alone with no family, no husband and no support whatsoever after Edward of Lancaster's premature death. Anne is placed into the household of his sister Isabel and her husband, Richard of Gloucester's turncoat brother George of Clarence and Anne is kept as a virtual prisoner and treated as an enemy of York because of the marriage she never wanted and the inheritance she is entitle too that Clarence wants for himself. Eventually Richard of Gloucester, still in love with Anne, manages to free her from her emotional bondage and marries her, leaving her free to love and be loved.

In general her early life was just an emotional roller-coaster and she deserved so much better but that was the life of women back then, they were often treated as objects and used to further the ambitions of their family and forced into marriages they didn't want but had absolutely no choice over. Both Anne AND Isabel Neville were use in this way and both women suffered for it, granted Isabel only had the one betrothal and marriage to deal with but her husband does not seem to have had much interest in her except for producing his heirs.

Unfortunately history shows that Anne only lived to be 28 years old, dying too young, and while her marriage to Richard of Gloucester was generally a very happy one it has been shown that when Richard become King Richard III and Elizabeth Woodville's eldest daughters returned to court that Richard became very attached to his niece, Princess Elizabeth of York and not in way that a wife would appreciate. This fact taints the love story between Anne and Richard but doesn't feature in this book and makes to romantic story more poignant.

The book is the classic tale of true love conquering all and of the constancy of the love held between Anne and Richard, how circumstance never changed the way that they ultimately felt about each other.

Anne O'Brien is a very talented author and had written this story very sympathetically, maybe is not as historically accurate as it could be but so little is known of Anne Neville's life that any author writing about her has to use a certain amount of poetic license to make her story into a book. Anne treats the subject matter in a way that makes it intriguing and interesting to read and not harsh and ugly like it really was, some books needs the ugly side to make them work but in this instances I think the author took the right approach and made it work.

In conclusion, if you like historical romances like those of Philippa Gregory or Elizabeth Chadwick then Anne O'Brien's books are definitely the books for you as they are too good not to read. She makes the books her own and even though these authors often choose to write about the same women from history they all treat there subjects in a different manner so while you may have read another book about Anne Neville do not dismiss another book by another author on the same subject or you may miss a treat of a book!

Would I recommend this book, YES I most definitely would! It's a fantastic book, an easy read and very enjoyable indeed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Philippa Gregory, but worth a read., 30 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
This story is told through Anne Neville's eyes and touches upon the heartless marriage (if you can call it a marriage) between herself and the evil Prince of Wales (Lancaster). This book states to be a love story between Anne and Richard Plantagenet (Richard III), which is heavily emphasized throughout the book, but there is something lacking in this romance novel.
The historic facts have been left out or reworded and changed to suit a 'happily-ever-after' conclusion. It is a shame that this story ends just after Anne has her son. It would have been good if Anne O'Brien had explored the couple's life after marriage and the birth of their son, making it a true romance story between the two main characters.
I did love the story O'Brien had created true to history with the two being close friends in childhood, creating a foundation for their love later on. This is something that Gregory had not done.
This book is definetly worth a read if you love the War of the Roses and want to see a side to Richard III that Shakespeare had forgotten to include when he wrote his play for Tudor propaganda...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only Ok, 1 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Virgin Widow (Paperback)
This book was only ok. With the White Queen on TV at the moment I really wanted to read about Anne Neville. I disliked the Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory so I thought I would find a version of their story I did like.

This was better but still rather dull. I did not buy into the romance to the extent I should have liked to and there was no humour. Perfectly well written as a story but just not clever and witty enough for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not forgotten read, 26 May 2013
This review is from: Virgin Widow (Kindle Edition)
Anne O'Brien is in a league if her own. I love that the fiction is woven around facts and makes an apparently insignificant person into an important and richly vibrant part of history. More please!
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Virgin Widow
Virgin Widow by Anne O'Brien (Paperback - 21 May 2010)
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