Review: The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction, 464 pages
ISBN: 9781451626087
Touchstone; Reprint edition (April 9, 2013)

FTC Disclosure: Won from Goodreads First Read program

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family. –  Book Jacket

What’s not to like about anything Philippa Gregory writes? Well except for her depiction of Anne Boleyn. Despite claims by the author, any historical fiction is just that: fiction. As good as it can be when interspersed with facts, it remains fiction and many authors, including Gregory make choices that fly in the face of what historians believe.

When it comes to history, even when related by a first person witness, the truth is what we make it until proven otherwise. I do believe Anne Boleyn has been misjudged. Gregory apparently chose to imply otherwise. When you think about it though, it makes sense because it makes good fiction.

It is because of this that I had to stop myself and wonder if I’m actually being objective enough, because the story is so good I find it easy to forgive when she alters an aspect of history that may be in dispute, but most believe to be accurate.

With page turners like The Kingmaker’s Daughter, it can be a challenge to see the forest for the trees. I am a devout historical fiction fan. I am also a history buff of sorts, and especially of English history up to the Victorian era.

Yes, there is some license taken here. However, the facts are inserted well and often.

This story is timely because of the discovery of Richard III’s body. Some things about him turned out to be true, but how much of the rest is really Tudor propaganda? There is usually more going on in history than what anyone can guess. This is what makes historical fiction shine when done right. It fills in the blanks creatively and believably – meshing fact and fiction that will have you reading late into the night.

I know some won’t forgive her for her characterizations of historical figures. But she isn’t writing history or trying to rewrite it. She is fictionalizing people and events and doing a wonderful job of “what if” he/she/it were this way instead of that.

And I don’t think you can get any more right than this. (Well, at least until her next book.)




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