Maybe I've been living under a rock. I was familiar with Philippa Gregory's work, I was aware of her reputation as a writer, and yet... I had not picked up one of her books until now. I also don't have much knowledge of this period in history, so The Kingmaker's Daughter may as well have been a work of pure fiction to me. At least one reviewer mentioned that the events in this book overlapped with events in some of Gregory's earlier works, but in reading as a "newbie," every page was filled with suspense and intrigue.
Anne Neville was born to a family of great wealth and power, with a father known as "The Kingmaker." With only two daughters, Anne and Isabel, Richard's ambitions lie in securing powerful marriages for his daughters. He is intent on making one of the girls a queen. Richard has little interest in the girls aside from as pawns in his schemes, and his actions continually put their lives at risk, as well as his own.
While this novel has kings and queens and dukes and duchesses, the most interesting relationship was between Anne and her older sister, Isabel. The girls had a complex relationship; their sisterly love was oftentimes overcome by competitiveness and mistrust, as others manipulated them and maneuvered them around the chessboard. As they grew older, their bond was tested more severely.
Gregory writes with such richness and intelligence. I was hooked from around page 20. Since this was a new story to me, a heavy dose of suspense remained throughout as I viewed nearly every character with suspicion, wondering how he or she would betray Anne. I grew to care for Anne as she matured from a young girl under her parents' control and protection to a young woman who must use her wits to survive.