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Review: A Rose for the Crown, by Anne Easter Smith

A Rose for the Crown is an ambitious first novel. Here Anne Easter Smith tells the story of Richard III--from another point of view.

The book is the story of Richard's mistress, called Katherine Haute. It is known that Richard had at least three illegitimate children, but history is fuzzy as to who their mother was. Smith surmises that Richard had one mistress that he was faithful to for a certain period of time that he then gave up when he married Anne Neville. Katherine Haute is fictional, but the world she lives in is not, and Smith is adept at telling a rich historical story in a way that so few historical fictional novelists can these days.

Kate Haute, born to a farmer, endures two unpleasant marriages before meeting Richard one day in the woods. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Kate become lovers, eventually having three children together. Their love story is at the heart of this wonderful novel, with the War of the Roses merely playing the role of backdrop. Richard stays completely faithful to Kate during their affair, only leaving her when he marries. However, he continues to support the children for long afterwards.

What's interesting about this story is that Richard is not the tyrant he appears to be in Shakespeare's play. Rather, Smith argues, he was a gentle, kind man who was prone to sudden bouts of bad temper. Shakespeare placed heavy emphasis on the murders of Richard's two nephews, but Smith tells the story a different way, saying that it was not Richard who ordered their deaths, but one of his close friends who betrayed him. I only know about Richard III through fiction, and not historical fact, so its difficult to determine which is a more accurate portrayal. I tend to think that neither is particularly truthful. A much better book than this is Sharon Kay Penman’s Sunne in Splendour.

Also reviewed by: Devourer of Books


Lezlie said…
My understanding is that Sharon Kay Penman can't be beat, but this still looks like something that might be worth checking out. Thanks for the review!

nbbaker1102 said…
I just review Daughter of York, another book by Anne Easter Smith on my blog.

I really liked the story, but she does include lots of facts. I think Smith spends a great deal of time researching her topic and then includes, at least in the book I read, a discussion at the end about what is fact and what is fiction.
jenclair said…
Another good look at Richard III is in Josephine Tey's classic Daughter of Time in which Inspector Alan Grant is confined to hospital and very bored. He begins researching the missing princes to determine whether or not Richard was a monster or a victim of enemy propaganda. Tey was responsible for bringing the controversy to a wide audience and the novel remains a popular defense of Richard.
Carmina said…
last night when my husband was purchasing some Viagra Online I asked to buy me this book and after reading your review I think it is a good choice! thanks for the post

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Deborah said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah said…
Paul Doherty has a very good book called "The fate of princes" which, while a work of fiction is based on thorough research. He writes thoroughly researched historical fiction and his doctoral thesis was in Edward II and Isabella.

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