Whether you like this book depends a bit on where you stand on the Wars of the Roses. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.
If you hold the traditional view that King Richard III was a self-serving usurper who murdered the two princes in the Tower, then you will find a reasonable explanation of why he did the deed. If, like me, you think Richard has been maligned by Tudor-era historians, then you won’t feel at all satisfied by this portrait of the king.
Let me add that Richard is NOT the main character. The focus on the book is on a married couple — Harry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Kate (aka Catherine Woodville), who happens to be the sister of Queen Elizabeth (Woodville), wife to Edward IV (Richard’s brother and predecessor on the English throne). If you’re a bit confused, that’s a given with this novel. Lots of characters to keep track of, including some with the same name. There’s a guide at the front of the book but I did not find it that helpful in tracking characters while I was reading.
Harry and Kate, the alternating narrators of the book, are married as children. During the 18 or so years chronicled in this book — they go from competitive children to friends, then to passionate lovers, later to enemies and finally back to lovers. The reasons behind this volatility have a lot to do with politics and the competing Lancasters and Yorks. (Their rivalry is the cause of the Wars of the Roses) But the Harry-Kate relationship simply didn’t ring true to me. Too much shifting over too short a period of time. I don’t believe feelings work that way.
Nevertheless I know a bit more about two previously unknown people who lived through an era of great interest to me. And I always enjoy an historical novel that does that.
Plus, Susan Higgenbotham is one of my favorite historical novelists.