Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Rose for the Crown - Anne Easter Smith [July/06]

The advantage of having exchange students is lots of trips to the airport. The book store housed there has many staff members that read historical fiction, so there are always displays of them and more often than not, they are books I haven't seen anywhere else. This is where I found A Rose for the Crown. I ended up buying it from amazon, but I might never have done that if it wasn't for the bookstore.

From the back of the book:

In A Rose for the Crown, we meet one of history's alleged villains through the eyes of a captivating new heroine - the woman who was the mother of his illegitimate children, a woman who loved him for who he really was, no matter what the cost to herself.

As Kate Haute moves from her peasant roots to the luxurious palaces of England, her path is inextricably intertwined with that of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Although they could never marry, their young passion grows into a love that sustains them through war, personal tragedy, and the dangerous heights of political triumph.

Anne Easter Smith's impeccable research provides the backbone of an engrossing and vibrant debut from a major new historical novelist.

I was very excited to read this novel. I had planned to start it a while ago, but something always came up and I never got around to it. I was worried that this book would destroy Richard for me. I know that he was supposed to be this vile man, but history is told through the eyes of the winners, and that makes me think the Tudors just destroyed his name when they came into power. I like to think that he was a good guy, and since I will never meet him, it is not something that can ever be fully proved.

This book starts when Kate Haue is very young and still living with her parents. We get a good idea of what she is like before Richard even enters the novel. He is shown in some background scenes, like when his brother is crowned king, but he never becomes a main character until Kate is in her teens. Kate has a slightly lower class early life. Her father is a farmer, and they live very basically. Then, one day a friend of Kate's mother comes to the farm house and her life is changed forever. She is taken to the house to be a playmate and sister to their daughter, and while she never essentially changes her place in society, more oppurtunities are open to her.

By the time she meets Richard she has been married to a man that is a considerable amount older to her, he has died, and she has moved on to a man that she thinks she loves. Until she gets to know him better. When Richard comes along, she is very unhappy in her marriage, and if it wasn't for the love that she feels for her husband George's family, life would be very bad indeed. She longs to feel love and be the mother of a child, but George would have that denied to her. It is one day when she is wandering in the woods that her life is changed forever.

So much happens in the book. It is not just about Richard and Kate, it is not just a romance novel. Kate's life is explained in detail to the backdrop of Edward, Richard's brother, and then Richard himself. You enjoy the moments where Richard and Kate are in love, but you also enjoy all the friends that Kate picks up along the way. The ways that Smith has taken historical characters and entertwined their lives with Kate. You can really believe that Richard loved her and that he enjoyed his time with her.

I loved this book, when I finished it I was sad because there is not any more to the story. You really get into the story, feeling the emotions that Kate feels and being saddened by the events in the novel. It is at its core a forbidden love story, and when Richard has to marry Anne Neville it is a very sad goodbye. This book is up there with Penman. Penman concentrates on the professional side of being a king, while Smith concentrates on the lower classes and the personal life of a king. You will fall in love with Kate and your heart will go out to Richard.

I am very excited to say: 5/5

I had to post this again. The italics was driving me crazy. I messed around with the original and then said screw it!

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