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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 21 January 2014
This was never going to be a detailed biography of Anne Neville, as so little is actually documented about her. Amy Licence gives a sympathetic account of Anne's life, but often within the confines of the recorded history of her important male family members. It's her role as Warwick's daughter and Richard iii's wife and queen that is, by necessity, the prominent features of her life. Interposed with the few facts are details about the role of women in their own households and as future wives and mothers to further hereditary lines. At the end we learn very little about Anne's own character or even her own opinions, unless reflected as daughter and wife. The author attempts to fill in the inevitable gaps but at best, much is supposition.

It was surprising to see so many factual errors by a respected historical writer who is knowledgeable about the times this biography covers. Some must have been due to poor proof-reading or editing but others, I fear, due to hasty writing. We have Anne Beauchamp being betrothed to the Duke of York, Owen Tudor being called Henry vi's father-in-law (twice on the same page),Barnard Castle instead of Baynard's Castle and John Grey being named as one of Elizabeth Woodville's sons. I see another reviewer has already mentioned others. For a reader new to the history these errors must be confusing and unfortunately do detract from an otherwise good read.
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on 15 May 2013
I ordered this book as I love anything do do with this period in history. The book is very well written and very readable, as some books can get so tied up in political discussions of the day they totally get off the subject! The book makes you think of what Anne Neville was really like, as we always get the impression in novels that she was a quiet mouse who would not say boo to a goose, but perhaps she was not like this after all, perhaps she was a strong woman who supported her husband through his own trials, she had to be considering the things that happened in her short life, tragic it was as the title suggests. Also lavishly illustrated with beautiful photos and pictures I will definitely be buying Amy's other books. I highly recommended this.
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on 27 June 2014
However few the records on Anne Neville, this author managed to report only part of them (and not even complete) and mar her books with such blatant errors one wonders if she had changed her mind on writing a historical biography and was switching to fiction, which could have been a good choice given the amount of musts, mights, coulds that make up this account.

Margaret Beufort on pag. 209 is married to William instead of Thomas Stanley, dates of investiture change from page to page as if ininfluential, contemporary records such as Crowland on pag. 121 are dismissed as historical fiction (on the episode of George of Clarence hiding Anne in the city of London disguised as a cookmaid, with Richard finding her and removing her to the sanctuary of St. Martin’s) with the 2 York brothers (George and Richard) fighting over the Warwick, rather than the Beauchamp, inheritance, the Warwick inheritance which had already been attainted after the Earl of Warwick’s death at Barnet and divided between them, with Richard obtaining Middleham before wedding Anne, and eventually wedding her not before having to renounce his office of Great Chamberlain of England and part of the Warwick inheritance itself to George’s benefit (yet another unmentioned and/or inaccurately reported record of the few surviving).

The record of Richard charging his East Anglian estates payments in December 1476 'for certain furs delivered by command of the said duke to his most dearly beloved consort', and for 'silk cloth and other things delivered to the aforesaid consort' reminds me of my own Christmas shopping for my wife, but it also goes unnoticed and unmentioned in a book that leaves the reader with the big question mark on Richard of Gloucester’s later King Richard III love for Anne Nevile, whose bio this account should stand for. Well, I guess if you do not tear down palaces and do not pass an act of Parliament on the issue, renouncing offices and estates to win your brother’s consent to the marriage and public display of grief 2 weeks after your wife’s death at the Hospital of St. John (also unmentioned, the author choosing to report only Richard’s refutal of the rumours on the Elisabeth of York affair) will not persuade posterity, so why write about it?
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This new biography from Amy Licence continues her focus on the lesser known women of the early Tudor period. In this instance, the shadowy Anne Neville, daughter of the Kingmaker (Earl of Warwick), widow of Edward the last Lancastrian heir, and wife of Richard the Third. Her early life spanned a period of huge upheaval and uncertainty as the Cousin's War reached its final throes taking Anne's first husband and her father as but two casualties among so many as Edward the Fourth reasserted his rule. As always the women were left to try to maintain some semblance of normality amidst the seemingly endless rounds of war, betrayal, short lived marriages and broken hearts. Their status as queens, duchesses or princesses offered little protection against the brutal realities of medieval life, and in this respect Anne Neville was no exception to the rule.

Anne Neville's life is not the easiest to quantify or write about as, truthfully, there is not a huge amount of source material. That said, Amy Licence has worked her magic again by putting her subject firmly in her historical context and drawing on the lives and destinies of her family and contemporaries. In this way, she is able to give us a real sense of a flesh and blood woman who could easily be overwhelmed by the bigger personalities around her. There is a clear sense that her happiest times were as Duchess of Gloucester, running her home at Middleham Castle far from the pressures of London and the royal court. Of course, all that changed when Richard became King, in circumstances that were, and remain, shrouded in mystery: the key issue being the fate of the two Princes in the Tower, who as the young sons of Edward the Fourth were his natural heirs. This vexed question of who would have benefited more from their deaths (Richard himself, or Henry Tudor by blackening the Gloucester name)still resonates down the centuries and popular culture has cast Anne Neville's husband in the role of villain. If he was, did she know, and if he was not the deformed monster of Shakespearean legend, then who did kill the children? If he had actually survived at Bosworth, would he as a recent widower following Anne Neville's death, have gone ahead and married his niece, Elizabeth of York. Questions, questions!

In a book full of goodies (wonderful illustrations, for example), I love the way the author has included the recent recovery of Richard's skeleton from the grave where he was placed after his defeat and death at Bosworth. A touch of scoliosis in the spine certainly, but not the Crookback of legend.

I highly recommend this latest Amy Licence masterpiece, with its superb prose, and intelligent interpretation of the facts. It is also well edited and as an added bonus, printed on lovely paper.

More please, from this terrific author.
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on 7 May 2014
I really enjoyed this book by Amy Licence on Anne Neville wife to Richard lll. It must have been a hard ask to find out about this woman as so little remains in print about her true character. Anne is often portrayed in novels as a put upon colourless character but Amy has managed to put together some extremely interesting views and facts on Anne. We will never know truly what type of woman Anne was but Amy is such a refreshing author in the way she seeks out history from the female perspective. A really good read and would highly recommend it.
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on 24 June 2013
A difficult subject for any author to tackle because of lack of personal information. However Amy Licence handled it well, presenting Anne to the best of her ability with the material available. It is impossible to access Anne's character, but we get a good view of life under the Plantagenets, and how Anne would have coped ,by seeing the highs and lows involved in her lifetime. It is a sympathetic and honest view of her marriage, coronation etc. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love of the Plantagenet era.
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on 27 October 2013
This really is a book which shouldn't have been written. There is simply not enough information on Anne to justify a book. The book is fairly short anyway at 212 pages, what there is on Anne could be covered in about 20.

And what there is about Anne is padded out by endless phrases, such as "Perhaps Anne..", "Anne probably..", "What were her thoughts on..." and suchlike. A historical biography should be based on fact. If there isn't enough, as with Anne, then don't write the book.

The rest of the book is basically a brief history of the Wars of the Roses which is fairly well written. However, there are a number of factual errors, including:-

1. In P36-8 indicates Anne's father as becoming Constable of Calais in May 1457. In fact, this was in 1455.

2. On P155, it states Anne's son was invested as Prince of Wales on 8 September 1483. On P165, the date changes to 24 August 1483.

3. In the chapter entitled Queen July-December 1483, on P165 it states "It was during these days in late summer 1484." Wrong year!

4. On P203, it states her reign was 22 months. Richard became King on 26 June 1483 and Anne died 16 March 1485. This is not even 21 months.

5. On P209, it states "Sir William Stanley, husband of Margaret Beaufort..". This is incorrect, her husband was Thomas Stanley and this is shown correctly on P176.

These frustrating, completely avoidable errors meant that however well written, took the enjoyment away from reading the book.
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on 25 June 2013
The story of Richard III's wife has been put aside for a long time in favour of the controversy about her husband. It is refreshing to see history from a different angle.

This is a well written book and a real page turner, despite the fact that we already know the outcome.
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on 1 December 2014
Amy Licence has written a wonderful history of life in the fifteenth century. While there is very little information about Anne Neville, License uses historical facts about the times to fill in a spare outline of who Anne Neville might have been. Colorful descriptions coupled with interesting information creates a rich backdrop of life for a wealthy heiress and a descendant of royalty. Licence backs her speculation with as much actual facts as she can. Her perceptive observations make for entertaining reading where history jumps off the page coming as alive as an HBO special. Licence is a great author who understands how to relate history for those who want to read about famous people and not be bored to death.
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on 8 July 2013
A fresh look at a period of history and from a new and enlightened angle the author gave details to domestic life seldom
Seen in works covering the wars of the roses.
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