Thanks to Georgia Francis for her book review of Lesley Nickell’s gripping historic love story of Anne Neville and the man who will become King Richard III.
Book Review: The White Queen of Middleham
History meets Romance and time travels through the eyes of one historical icon as love is tested in the midst of a ferocious battle to reign.
Not to be confused with the 2009 novel titled The White Queen written by Philippa Gregory, The White Queen of Middleham is the first in ‘The Sprigs of Bloom’ series written by Lesley J Nickell and was published in 1978. Since its original publication date, it went out of print only to be revived by Mereo Books in September 2014.
The White Queen of Middleham documents the life, love and loss of Anne Neville, daughter of Richard Neville before becoming Princess of Wales as wife of Edward of Westminster and finally reigning as Queen of England as the wife of King Richard III.
Within the novel Anne is a timid child constantly ignored by her mother, patronised by her eldest sister and bullied by her formidable farther Warwick the Kingmaker. She is forever a pawn in the games of politics as the Houses of Lancaster and York fight for the throne.
As her father’s fortunes continue to turn, Anne faces hardship and is moved from one refuge to the next. She is forced to marry Edward, Prince of Wales but upon his death, is placed in the hands of George, Duke of Clarence. Upon her arrival, Anne is hidden away as a London kitchen maid for fear of posing a threat to George’s upcoming Warwick inheritance.
Of course, every damsel in distress needs a knight in shining armour and the third son of the ambitious Duke of York, later Richard III, becomes that hero. Though their love is almost wrecked by the War of Roses, it culminates in great happiness; they marry and become the last Plantagenet reign in England.
In the midst of a ‘happily ever after’, the novel soon descends into heartbreak. The death of Anne’s only son is followed shortly by her own which rocks the reader from the inside. Lesley’s writing, especially towards the end is beautifully descriptive and heartfelt and in places, extremely lyrical.
There is no doubt that a remarkable amount of research has gone into the writing of this novel. The depth of passion the author feels for this time period is observed through the beautifully well written story that follows. Through a third person narration, the audience are captivated and extremely moved by the living life of Anne. Although not much is documented about her in historical archives, Lesley Nickell has managed to capture Anne in immense detail.
Nickell has surprisingly challenged Shakespearean characteristics of Richard, Duke of Gloucester within the novel too – turning him from vicious monster to a heroic soldier and a saving grace for Anne. This is one of the highlights to the novel as a whole.
So, whether you’re a romance fan, historical fan or are just willing to pick up something different, The White Queen of Middleham is the perfect book for all. A great pleasure to read; educational and extremely enjoyable.
The White Queen of Middleham