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Customer Review

23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book from a writer who just gets better and better, 13 May 2013
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This review is from: Anne Neville: Richard III's Tragic Queen (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 May 2013 12:22:39 BDT
Amy Licence says:
Thank you for your generous reviews Eleanor, they are much appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 May 2013 12:32:13 BDT
EleanorB says:
My pleasure, Amy. I love your writing.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jun 2013 00:03:15 BDT
S. Johnston says:
Anne was Duchess of GLOUCESTER not York although her husband was of the Yorkist line

Posted on 13 Aug 2013 20:41:22 BDT
The picture of Richard the Third as a wicked hunchback was promoted by Shakespeare who was writing in Tudor times, so his story telling was for the benefit of the monarchy of the time.

Posted on 6 Feb 2014 22:17:21 GMT
Leonard says:
Richard III wasn't planning to marry his niece Elizabeth. He made an offer in the summer of 1485 to Princess Juana of Portugal, who would have accepted him if he hadn't been killed at Bosworth. He had no children in wedlock, so presumably the rather hasty offer of marriage was motivated by the wish for heirs to the throne.
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