Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Virgin Widow-Anne O’Brien

The Virgin Widow
Anne O’Brien
NAL, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451231291

An Earl used to getting what he wants, Richard Neville decides his two daughters Anne and Isobel will wed the brothers of King Edward, Richard and Clarence respectively,. Outraged by the Duke of Warwick’s presumption, Edward disapproves. In turn a fuming Neville joins with Clarence to revolt against Edward. They lose leading to Neville and Clarence being declared traitors against the House of York. The Warwick clan flees across the Channel to France where they join the exiled Lancaster family.

Still ambitious, Neville pushes Anne as a worthy bride of Edward Lancaster. Anne still loves her former fiancé Richard, who stayed loyal to his sibling the king, which leaves them as star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of the dispute. Still her father forces her to wed the rebellious sibling Edward with the war for the throne of England still going unabated.

This is an engaging biographical fiction work that looks closely at Anne Neville caught between the two sides of the War of the Roses. She is a puppet to her politically ambitious Kingmaker sire who forces her to wed the wrong brother in her mind; but later has a chance to marry for love when her first husband and her father die in the battle to replace the late Edward. With a more human perspective of Richard than Shakespeare’s version (the Bard wrote his plays with Queen Elizabeth I in mind if he wanted to keep his head), fans will enjoy this look at fractured England through the eyes of a key participant unwillingly pulled in several conflicting directions.

Harriet Klausner

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