July 2024
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Daughter of York, Anne Easter Smith

Margaret of York always plays a small role in historical fiction dealing with the Yorkist side of the Wars of the Roses.  Sister to Edward IV and Richard III, she is often a figure in her childhood and young adulthood but vanishes from the picture once she marries Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy.  I was very happy to find a book which focused on her and covered her life in Burgundy.

The author acknowledges that much here is speculation.  Little is known of Margaret outside of her itinerary.  Kings are hard enough to trace in the middle ages, so it is not surprising that a princess and duchess would be similar.  Regardless, Smith and I share the same view, that historical fiction is meant to fill in the bones of history, not change their shape.  In that sense, she does an admirable job from what I know of, and nothing she introduces is implausible, except a scene at the end which probably would not have been acceptable.  Margaret’s love for Anthony Woodville is certainly possible.  Her duty as a royal princess was to ally with foreign powers, not to follow her heart, regardless of what her brothers did.  They were men, after all — and Edward IV’s disadvantageous marriage continues to bring scorn upon his head more than five hundred years later.

Smith’s writing is not as polished as it could be, but neither does it detract from the story she tells.  At times, that story does drag, especially in the beginning as Margaret is basically waiting to be married.  Nothing much the author could have done to change that, and she does insert some extraneous events in an attempt to speed up the pace.  It is by far most interesting when Margaret travels to Burgundy for her wedding.

I also approve of the author’s decision regarding the ending.  It was the best choice.

All in all, certainly recommended for historical fiction readers, but may be a bit too lengthy for those of us who aren’t fascinated by the Middle Ages.


3 comments to Daughter of York, Anne Easter Smith

  • Re: Daughter of York review …
    It would appear to be a fact that Anthony Woodville (and again his name is wrongly spelled!) never strayed from his marriage vows, he waited eight years between the death of his first wife before marrying again – thus speaks Antony’s biographer, (me) who has spent goodness knows how long researching this man and who is currently working on his biography. The amount of books who get his information wrong is incalculable, wrong dates, places, confusions with his father, wrong spelling of his name (that’s universal, not one person thought to check that out) wrongly allocated his title, you name it they get it wrong. And they still do …

  • Meghan

    Oh, thank you so much for letting me know! My research has been centered on early Richard III and the North so far. I’ll add your biography to the list of books that I should look out for.

    I personally didn’t find it implausible that he would stray one time and proceed to regret it for the rest of his life (as happens in the book), but I’ll wait until your biography sets me straight to firm my opinion there. =)

  • I read this book in early 2008 as well so my comment is quite overdue, but I was very curious as to your opinion of it anyway. This book introduced me to Anne Easter Smith’s work and I’ve been a fan ever since. Unlike others, like Phillipa Gregory who in my opinion simply like to tell a story, I find that A.E.S. strives for historical accuracy above all else, particularly in terms of the politics of the day.

    I agree with you entirely when you say that king’s are hard enough to trace through the middle ages. Women are even harder so I appreciate the fact that she tries to illuminate the lives of these most interesting women. Their stories deserve to be told too!

    I have not yet had any formal studies on the Plantagenet or Lancaster houses, so it’s been with the help of her books that I’ve learned as much as I have.