The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

published 2012 March 1484

The three oldest Rivers girls came to court with their heads held high, as if their mother were not guilty of treason against us. Richard tells me that they will pay their respects to me in the morning, after chapel and breakfast, and I am conscious of arranging myself in the beautiful rooms of Greenwich Palace, with my back to the bright light from the windows, in a dark gown of red and a high headdress of deep ruby lace. My ladies sit around me and the faces that they turn to the slowly opening door are not friendly. No woman wants three pretty girls beside her for comparison, and these are Rivers girls looking for husbands, as Rivers girls always are. Besides, half the court has knelt to these girls, and the other half kissed their baby fists and swore they were the prettiest princesses that had ever been seen. Now they are maids in waiting to a new queen, and they will never wear a crown again. Everyone is anxious that they understand their dive from grandeur to pauperdom, and everyone secretly hopes that they will misunderstand, and make fools of themselves.

observations: Mean Girls at the court of King Richard. Our narrator is Anne Neville, who is the Queen of England. It’s not hard for a historic novelist to write in some dramatic irony: Anne will not be Queen much longer, her husband will not be King, both will be dead within a year and a half, and one of these sneered-at girls (daughters of the previous King) will be Queen of England instead - this whole court will be swept away. 

Philippa Gregory’s Other Boleyn Girl featured twice in the blog last year, described as changing ‘the whole landscape of historical-novels–based-on-real-people - much as Anne Boleyn changed the whole future of the English throne and church.’ Her series on the Wars of the Roses (of which this is the fourth book) is less compelling than the Tudor ones, but that’s because the story is less interesting: what PG aptly calls the Cousins’ War can be confusing, with everyone changing allegiance and rising and falling with the fortunes of war. And in the end it can get a bit difficult to distinguish among the feisty, feminist heroines with their notions of their own importance.

Links up with: Richard III, Anne’s husband, is the major historical character in Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.

The picture of Anne Neville is from the Rous Roll, via Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Moira - Oh, and I find this palace intrigue irresistible. Interesting isn't how that kind of thing has been going on for millennia...

  2. I haven't read any Philippa Gregory, Moira as I tend not to read straightforward historical fiction. But the story of Richard III is fascinating. Especially as they have found his remains!


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