A Rose for the Crown

( 53 )

Overview

AN UNFORGETTABLE HEROINE,
A KING MISUNDERSTOOD BY HISTORY,
A LOVE STORY THAT HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD

In A Rose for the Crown, we meet one of history's alleged villains through the eyes of a captivating new heroine — the woman who was the mother of his illegitimate children, a woman who loved him for who he really was, no matter what the cost to herself.

As Kate Haute moves from ...

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A Rose for the Crown: A Novel

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Overview

AN UNFORGETTABLE HEROINE,
A KING MISUNDERSTOOD BY HISTORY,
A LOVE STORY THAT HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD

In A Rose for the Crown, we meet one of history's alleged villains through the eyes of a captivating new heroine — the woman who was the mother of his illegitimate children, a woman who loved him for who he really was, no matter what the cost to herself.

As Kate Haute moves from her peasant roots to the luxurious palaces of England, her path is inextricably intertwined with that of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Although they could never marry, their young passion grows into a love that sustains them through war, personal tragedy, and the dangerous heights of political triumph.

Anne Easter Smith's impeccable research provides the backbone of an engrossing and vibrant debut from a major new historical novelist.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Anyone interested in history, honor, and lost love will want to read A Rose for the Crown."

— Sharon Kay PenMan, author of The Sunne in Splendour

"Move over Amber St. Clare! Here comes Kate Haute. The richly imagined story of the woman who might have been the mother of Richard's three illegitimate children, this tale plunges the reader into the treacherous politics of the War of the Roses."

— Judith Merkle Riley, author of The Oracle Glass

"Remarkably assured debut spins a romantic yarn around England's much-maligned King Richard III.. a delightful, confident novel that should be a favorite with lovers of the genre. A strong new voice in the field of historical romance."

Kirkus Reviews

"In her first book, writer and musician Smith has produced a vibrant story full of careful historical detail and well-developed characters. More than just retelling historical events, Smith creates an empathetic and fascinating heroine in her own right. As Kate witnesses the monumental events that take place at the highest levels, the reader becomes engrossed in her story...highly recommended."

Library Journal

"Anne Easter Smith has done a remarkable job of weaving contemporary sources and scholarly evidence into the romantic, touching story of Kate and Richard's abiding connection to one another. The love Kate and Richard share is almost painful in its intensity. Kate is an appealing, fully drawn character who grows and ripens as the story progresses. Smith's Richard is certainly not the vilified hunchback king who killed his nephews in the Tower, but the fiercely loyal younger brother of Edward IV and later, husband of Anne. The Author's Note, extensive and wonderful, supports the existence of Kate or a Kate prototype.

This is a marvelous book, long and complex, deeply satisfying and a great read. Highly recommended."

Historical Novels Review

"This is a strong biographical fictionalized account of the life of Kate Bywood that provides a warmer loving side to Richard III through the tender eyes of his paramour...Kate is a fabulous heroine whose story makes for a fascinating indirect look at another perspective of Richard III."

— Harriet Klausner

"Move over, Amber St. Clare! Here comes Kate Haute, mistress of Richard III. The richly imagined story of the woman who might have been mother of Richard's three illegitimate children, this tale plunges the reader into the treacherous politics of the War of the Roses. With Richard, Kate shares passion, regal glamour, and, in the end, partakes of the bitter cup of loss."

— Judith Merkle Riley, author of The Oracle Glass

"Anyone interested in history, honor and lost love will want to read A Rose for the Crown."

— Sharon Kay Penman, author of The Sunne in Splendour

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by the historical record of Richard III's bastard children, Smith invents a spirited, "tawny-eyed" mistress for the 15th-century king in her sweeping debut. Kate Bywood is plucked from her peasant life at the age of 11 to join the household of her mother's noble cousins, the Hautes, as companion to her timid cousin, Anne. A brief, unwilling marriage to an older, wealthy merchant leaves Kate a young widow with a considerable fortune. A second marriage to George, an opportunistic Haute cousin who prefers the stable boy to Kate, leaves her yearning for love. In a chance encounter, she meets Richard of Gloucester, and the ensuing secret romance is filled with the passion and intimacy her marriage lacks. George is killed during an attack in the forest, and Kate bears Richard three children. The narrative flies when the lovers are together, but once Richard marries Anne Neville, and he and Kate are separated for long stretches, the story loses its spark. Readers hungry primarily for romance may also tire of Smith's details about the complicated internecine rebellions and rivalries among pretenders to the throne. Nevertheless, this story fills in some historical gaps and conjures a winning heroine. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A humble farmer's daughter, Kate Bywood has no idea that her life's path will become entwined with that of one of England's most controversial kings. As she matures from a lovely child into a beautiful woman, Kate learns hard lessons about life and love; widowed and then remarried, she finds herself trapped in a sham of a marriage. But then she meets the young Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), and they begin a passionate love affair that produces three illegitimate children. In her first book, writer and musician Smith has produced a vibrant story full of careful historical detail and well-developed characters. More than just retelling historical events, Smith creates an empathetic and fascinating heroine in her own right. As Kate witnesses the monumental events that take place at the highest levels, the reader becomes engrossed in her story. Even more fleshed out than Robin Maxwell's To the Tower Born: A Novel of the Lost Princes, this novel is highly recommended to all public libraries.-Anna M. Nelson, Collier Cty. P.L., Naples, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Remarkably assured debut spins a romantic yarn around England's much-maligned King Richard III. Born in 1451 to respectable but simple farmer folk, Katherine Haute is adopted by aristocratic cousins as a child. Her further rise is ensured by her remarkable good looks (she has striking, golden eyes). Wed at the tender age of 14, Kate is a wealthy widow at 16. She marries again, this time for love, which turns out to be misplaced, and finds her true match in an adulterous liaison with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future king. Contrary to the Shakespearean image of Richard as a hunchbacked and murderous schemer, Smith depicts him as a handsome knight and faithful lover to the headstrong Kate. From his bed, and via the careers of her relatives, she witnesses the turbulent final years of the Wars of the Roses. In Kate, Smith has created a likable heroine who easily survives the plague of cliches endemic to historical romance. The story flags only as it nears its tragic conclusion. The author is perhaps too scrupulously true to her sources in the use of names; every man not called Richard is a Henry, wed to a Margaret or a Katherine, who will inevitably bear a baby Richard. But these are minor deficits in a delightful, confident novel that should be a favorite with lovers of the genre. A strong new voice in the field of historical romance.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743276870
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 3/7/2006
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 335,550
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

A native of England, Anne Easter Smith has lived in the United States for more than forty years. She was the features editor at a newspaper in New York State and now lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with her husband, Scott. You can visit her website at AnneEasterSmith.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

London, 1491

Traitors!" shrieked an old crone from the midst of a large crowd swarming around the base of the crude platform in the Smithfield marketplace. Her voice joined the cacophony of cries of those selling pies, ale and trinkets; of neighbors hailing neighbors; and here and there coarse, lewd laughter. Every now and again, an agonized scream emanated from the scaffold, followed by wild cheers from hundreds of leering faces. Acrid smoke hung like a stifling mantle over the square.

Half hidden on a stone ledge behind an abutment, a widow shielded her eyes from the scene.

"Is it finished, my son?" she whispered to the young man next to her. The stench overpowered her — a sickening mix of burnt flesh, spilled blood, singed hair and hundreds of sweaty, unwashed bodies. It was like nothing she had ever smelled, and her stomach heaved.

Her son, who was less squeamish, stood on tiptoe and stared in fascinated horror at the grisly spectacle. "Nay, Mother. There is one more nearing the scaffold." He turned his head to look at her, his chestnut hair a mirror of what hers once had been, and saw her pain. "I should take you from this place," he said with concern. "'Tis not seemly that you bear witness to such cruelty. Why are we here?"

"How is the last one, Dickon? Is he young? Do they call his name?" He did not have a chance to answer.

"Death to the traitor! Death to the traitorous bastard!" shouted a man at the front of the crowd.

"Why, 'tis Richard's bastard. 'Tis John of Gloucester. Why were we not told?" a large man called to the captain in charge of the prisoners. The soldier shrugged and turned away. "A king's son should have a private execution. 'Tis customary," the man grumbled.

A moment of silence followed as the surprising information was passed back. Many in the crowd were puzzled. They had no quarrel with John. They had come to witness the death of three men accused of treason. King Henry seemed bent on purging his kingdom of anyone he believed a threat to him.

"What treason has John committed?" asked another man. "And who saw the trial?"

Silence.

"Too close to Richard for comfort," yelled a woman near the widow, and many laughed, relieved to have the tension broken.

But the onlookers were no longer concerned with past transgressions, only with present consequences. They had come to see three men dispatched by the most grisly method of execution: hanged until almost dead, taken down, their entrails ripped from them and burned, and finally hacked into quarters. The heads would be set upon London gate, a warning to all prospective traitors. That one of these condemned turned out to be royal — albeit a bastard — was all the more titillating. Out for blood, the crowd's hush gave way to howls of derision for the third prisoner. Surging forward, it met a wall of soldiers, who kept them from tearing the calm, dark-haired man to pieces before the hangman and disemboweler could do their work.

The son of dead King Richard was given the last rites at the base of the scaffold, a few paces from the drawn and quartered remains of another so-called traitor to Henry, the new king. He mounted the stairs and was led forward on the platform to the last noose. The crowd pelted him with clods of earth, rotten vegetables and the occasional stone until the hangman held up his hand for it all to stop. John looked out on the expectant faces in front of him and acknowledged the hate in them. A mere eight years earlier, these same faces were smiling and cheering at him and the brightly colored cavalcade on its way to his father's coronation. Now they stared at him, anticipating a cry for mercy or an admission of treachery. He was searching the crowd in vain for one friendly face when something made him look at a woman standing on a low ledge, her hand tightly entwined with that of a young man with chestnut hair. Her hood had fallen back, revealing a sad face with tired eyes.

The ugly masses melted into memories of long ago: a fire-lit solar where a voice like an angel lulled him with a song about knights, ladies and love; tawny eyes anxiously watching him sweat out a childish fever in her luxurious tester bed; warm arms holding his six-year-old body close on a summer day when the air was filled with farewells; and more recently, a touch of her hand briefly through the prison grille when she had come for the last time.

"Mother!" The single word came as a groan, and shameless tears welled.

The woman heard his cry and reached out her hand to him, not heeding the danger. He averted his eyes, afraid of implicating her.

"He cries for his mother, the baby!" shouted one of King Henry's plants in the throng, eliciting more cruel guffaws from those near him. A few in the crowd turned to stare curiously at the woman in the black cloak. She instantly let her arm drop. It was as though she had heard a silent plea from the prisoner, and before the crowd's interest became a threat, she got down from her ledge and, still clutching the young man's hand, ran down an alley away from the smell, the jeers and those haunting gray-blue eyes.

When she was away from the sight and sound of the scene, she stopped to take a breath, tears streaming down her face. Dickon stared at her. The errant wisps of hair around her widow's wimple were white, and her forty-year-old face was lined with suffering. She who had looked after him now needed his care. His mother was growing old.

"Mother, why are you so distressed? Why did we have to attend?" he asked again, taking her shoulders and giving them a gentle shake.

She looked full into his eyes. "Because he is my son."

Dickon's jaw went slack. "Your son? But...I do not understand. I am your son!" His strong chin jutted forward, reminding her so much of his father that she choked. He took her arm. "The air has addled your wits. Come, sit down, and I will find you refreshment."

Dickon led her to a stone bench in deserted Cheapside. With no one to stop them, dogs roamed in and out of open doors, mangy cats ranged rubbish heaps looking for scraps, and a rat scuttled across the street. The sun glinted off the puddles of sewage all along the wide thoroughfare.

There can be no greater grief than a mother's, the woman thought, her head in her hands, remembering, too, the death of her daughter from the sweating sickness not six years since. And such a death as this...Her sobs came harder.

"Dear God, I pray you took him quickly!" she called to the heavens, as Dickon stood by, perplexed. She looked down at the whitened skin at the base of one of her fingers and prayed that the missing ring had bought John death by strangulation from the hangman before the disemboweler did his work. Ah, Richard! I hope with all my heart your precious gift has helped our son heavenward with little pain. Of all its uses, this must be the crown.

After a while, the woman allowed herself to be led, as if in a trance, the short distance to where the Cheap Cross marked the entrance to the Mermaid Inn. Once through the courtyard and in the safety of their chamber, Dickon washed her face and hands and made her lie on the bed to rest.

"Please try and sleep, Mother. I will be out in the courtyard if you need me."

"Nay, Dickon. I pray you, do not leave me!" Her tone was urgent and her eyes implored him to stay. "There is much I must tell you, and now is a good time. I cannot bear to be alone. Come and sit by me, my son." She patted the bed and took his hand, already calloused from stoneworking. She held it to her cheek.

"John of Gloucester is...was my son." She saw the disbelief in his look. "Aye, he was your brother. Bear with me, Dickon, and I will tell you all."

She tore her eyes from his troubled face and looked towards the window, not knowing where to start, her thoughts still with the scene at Smithfield. She knew she owed him the truth after all this time.

Dickon stroked her hair, hating to see the tears that flowed unheeded down her cheeks. Why was he surprised? His mother had suddenly come to claim him when he was thirteen, a little time after the new King Henry had taken the throne. Until then he had believed she was his aunt. She had never given him a satisfactory explanation for all their years apart, and it had taken him a long time to love and accept her as his mother. But now the mystery was deepening, and he was almost afraid to know more.

Thus they sat, mother and son, both lost in their own thoughts, as a bird's fluting warble began in a tree in the central courtyard.

The birdsong awoke something in her. He saw her eyes soften, her mouth curve into a smile as she whispered, "Listen, Dickon! I can hear a blackbird."

Copyright © 2006 by Anne Easter Smith

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Introduction

A Rose for the Crown Reading Group Guide

Questions & Topics for Discussion
  1. The Prologue contains significant details about Kate and her two sons, one of whom dies tragically in these opening pages. Did having this information up front influence your reading of the story? Why do you suppose Anne Easter Smith chose to reveal these facts in the Prologue?
  2. When Kate is ten years old, her father tells her the story of how he came into possession of an ecu, a French coin, in order to help her understand the concept of loyalty. Loyalty is "when you stand by someone you love or honor and do not desert them even in the bad times," he says. What impact does this conversation have on Kate? How does the idea of loyalty play out in the story? Why does Kate give Richard the ecu to wear when it comes into her possession?
  3. When Kate's parents decide to accept Richard Haute's offer to have Kate join their household, John Bywood says to him, "As much as it do sadden us to see her go, we are obliged to do what is best for Kate." Even ten-year-old Kate acknowledges that "the thrill of a new life at the Mote must outweigh the loss." How do these same statements apply to Kate and her own children many years later?
  4. Kate is reluctant to marry her first husband, Thomas Draper, a man much older than she. But in what ways does Kate's marriage to Thomas come to benefit her? Why is Kate, a smart woman, then so deceived by her second husband, George, who not only marries her for her money but harbors a dark secret?
  5. When Kate finds out why George refuses to consummate their marriage,she decides to keep his secret. Why does she choose not to reveal what she knows, even though it could be the very thing that will free her from her marriage? After George dies, Kate dreams of him and believes this is God's way of "reminding her of the reason for [his] untimely death. If she had told him who her lover was from the beginning, he might not have attempted to find Richard and venture into Sherwood Forest." Does Kate bear any responsibility for George's death?
  6. When Kate travels to the Howard estate and unexpectedly attends the birth of their daughter, she strikes up a friendship with Margaret. In what ways does Kate's friendship with Margaret play an integral role in her life?
  7. When Kate first begins her affair with Richard, he's fifteen and she's two years older. What draws them together? Is their relationship based on more than youthful passion? After the initiation of their love affair at the Howards' home, Richard attempts to persuade Kate to accompany him to London as his mistress. Although she's tempted, as it would allow her to see him more often, why does Kate refuse Richard's offer?
  8. When they return to Bywood Farm in anticipation of Dickon's birth, Geoff remarks to his sister, "Who would have believed how our lives would change, Kate. If it had not been for your boldness...we would still think there was no bigger river than the Medway or town than Tunbridge!" Is their change in fortune due to Kate's "boldness"? Does Kate knowingly use it to her advantage? Is this quality more effective when it comes to the men in her life than the women?
  9. Why does Kate insist on telling Richard in person that Katherine has died? When she breaks the news to him, he says, "I have nothing to live for, Kate. I have lost my wife, my son, my brothers, my nephews, and now my beautiful daughter. I swear to Almighty God I do not care if I live or die.... I wish Richmond would come through that door this very moment and put me out of my misery!" Did Kate do the right thing by telling Richard about their daughter's death right before he went into battle?
  10. Both Margaret and Kate's cousin, Anne, disagree with her decision to send Dickon to Bywood farm to be raised as her brother's child. When Kate tells Richard, however, he commends her for caring about their child so much that she would do such a selfless thing. How do you explain these different reactions? Did Kate make the right decision, particularly in light of what transpires later in the story? What compels Kate to finally reveal the truth to Dickon?
  11. Richard says to Kate about his wife, Anne, "she is a simple soul, Kate, and too vulnerable. In many ways, you would be more suited as a queen." Compare Kate with Richard's wife, Anne, and the role each one plays in his life. If someone were observing their first meeting, what would they conclude about the two women? Why does Richard confide in Kate on numerous occasions after he becomes king?
  12. A Rose for the Crown is a bittersweet story, and the characters experience both moments of great happiness and intense sorrow. What is your overall impression of the book? How does it compare to other works of historical fiction you've read? Did you come away with an understanding of what it was like during, as Smith says in the Author's Note, "one of English history's most complex periods"?

Enhance Your Book Club Discussion

Set the scene — and enliven your taste buds — by serving tea and traditional English delicacies like shortbread, custard, sugared plums, and scones with jam and clotted cream. If your group normally meets at a restaurant, or if you'd like a change of pace, visit www.theteacaddy.com for a directory of tea rooms across the United States.

Select a nonfiction aspect presented in the book, find out more about it, and share your findings with the group. Then discuss its significance in the story, and in particular how it affects Kate. Possible topics include fifteenth-century laws about divorce and annulment, the use of plants and herbs for medicinal purposes, and taking a vow of widowhood.

Throughout history King Richard III has often been remembered as a usurper of the throne and possibly even a murderer. Conduct some research into how he has been portrayed — in books, articles, and even entertainment sources like Shakespeare's plays and twentieth-century film adaptations. Compare your findings to how Smith presents the monarch in the book, taking into account the information she shares in the Author's Note. A listing of resources and links can be found at www.richardiii.net, the website of the Richard III Society, whose mission is to restore the reputation of this controversial historical figure.

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Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Anne Easter Smith

What first sparked your interest in Richard III? That interest seems to extend beyond the research you conducted for A Rose for the Crown. Are you involved in the Richard III society or any other movement to restore his reputation?

In my early 20s, I was given The Daughter of Time, a modern-day mystery by Josephine Tey centering on the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. So carefully did Ms. Tey research her subject, it was clear to me that King Richard had been maligned by both Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare. I wanted to know more and so have read everything I can about Richard and the period in order to draw my own conclusions. I am a member of the Richard III Society, a focus of which is to "promote in every possible way research into the life and times of Richard III, and to secure a re-assessment of the material relating to the period, and of the role in English history of this monarch." I feel I am in a small way fulfilling the society's mission with A Rose for the Crown.

The story (aside from the Prologue) begins when Kate is nine years old. Why did you choose to show such a long span of her life, versus starting the story when her affair with Richard begins? Is A Rose for the Crown more Kate's story than Richard's?

Although my purpose for writing the book was to put Richard in a different light from everything one reads in history text books, I was determined to write about a woman of the period. Medieval women were strong, often enjoying equal status in running a castle or estate when their men were away at war. Growing up in England, medieval architecture, art and history was all around me and I often wished I could have been a part of that period. Once I had found my "heroine" I needed to have readers buy into her story so that her affair with Richard would be plausible. I wanted them to really know Kate before she catches the eye of the young duke of Gloucester. I wanted them to care about her. She is indeed fictional, but by the time you get to the end of the book, you believe in her because you have grown up with her.

Do you think it's difficult to keep our own, modern-day experiences from influencing the reading of the story? Can we imagine what life was really like for Kate within the context of the time period?

There will be 15th century scholars who will scoff at some of the thoughts I put into my characters' heads. My answer to that is go and read a text book! Of course I tried to help my readers relate to the characters, and often that means using modern-day experiences. Besides, how do we know what they were thinking? It is impossible for any of us to know. But my details of every-day life were very carefully researched, from the names, dates, places, daily life, dress, food, music, flowers, birds, pastimes etc. I tried to add those details wherever I could to conjure up a different -- and accurate -- time period from our own.

You worked in journalism for a number of years. What made you decide to write a novel? Was your background in journalism an asset to you in researching and writing A Rose for the Crown?

I tried writing a Regency novel when I was 19 after I finished all of the books by my favorite author at the time -- Georgette Heyer. I'd scribble in notebooks going back and forth to work in London on the train. It was a load of rubbish, I'm sure, but my mother thought I shouldn't give up. I had a perfectly ordinary English boarding-school education with no university or college experience. The most writing I ever did after leaving school was letters home to England from New York! I lucked into my Features Editor job at the daily newspaper in Plattsburgh, NY in 1985, and it was the best writing training I could have had. Having a daily deadline taught me to focus, and understanding my readership help me tailor different articles to different audiences. I am extremely grateful to my editors at the Press-Republican for nurturing my creative spirit.

Was the process of weaving fact and fiction a difficult one? What did you enjoy most about writing the book?

Oddly enough, I found the research the most enjoyable part of writing the book. I was determined to get facts right and in the process I have collected quite a library of source material for the period. Then the writing became like a jigsaw puzzle. I had huge charts plastered up around the walls with dates going down the sides and characters across the top. When I found out exactly who was where I was able to weave my fictional character, Kate, around them. One has to be so careful as so many records exist from the period. It is a novelist's nightmare!

What is your favorite scene in A Rose for the Crown? Which scene do you think reveals the most about Kate's character?

I have two favorite scenes: one happy and one sad. I could almost feel the cool water on Kate's skin when she frolicked in the river near Bury with Richard. Where the old man came from in my head I don't know, but I thought it was a funny conclusion to the scene. I am ashamed to say I still cry when I have to re-read the scene where Richard takes John into his household. Kate's anguish is palpable, I think. And, of course, Katherine's awful death pulls me into Kate's sorrow -- I have two daughters of my own.

In the Author's Note you mention that Ightham Mote is your favorite of all English manor houses. Is it open to the public? What other sites would you recommend for visitors to England that tie in with the setting of A Rose for the Crown?

Indeed, Ightham Mote is open to the public and should not be missed. It is on the National Trust register and their website is: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/places/ighthammote. Other sites of interest to The Rose for the Crown's readers are: the village of Lavenham in Suffolk with Chelsworth nearby; Stoke by Nayland church in Suffolk (unfortunately John Howard's Tendring Hall no longer exists other than the part of the tower he added, and Tendring Park is not open to the public); The Museum of London; Westminster Abbey; St. Mary Overie now called Southwark Cathedral; Tunbridge now called Tonbridge; Bow Bridge in Leicester; Bosworth Battlefield Centre; and Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. Although we do not visit Middleham Castle in Yorkshire in the book, anyone interested in Richard's story should make their way to its majestic ruins.

Interest has grown in recent years for works of historical fiction. Why do you think this type of book appeals to readers?

It is a personal preference, but with our lives so invaded by the news media and horror stories from home and abroad, reading historical fiction takes one out of our every-day life. Not to say their news wasn't also horrific, but reading of something long past is, for me, less stressful. For anyone who hated history at school, perhaps historical fiction might be more palatable as people from history come alive in the hands of good historical novelists like Anya Seton, Sharon Kay Penman and Philippa Gregory. You might then try going back to the text books, like I did, get excited and write the next big historical fiction!

What's next for you? Are you working on another historical novel?

Letting Kate and Richard go is proving difficult. I was involved with them over an eight-year period from conception to the birth, in a few months, of A Rose for the Crown. However, in my research of Richard and his family, I became intrigued by his elder sister, Margaret, who married Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. I am now working to bring her to life after researching sites in what was once the duchy of Burgundy and which is now Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Northeastern France. After that, who knows...

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Reading Group Guide

A Rose for the Crown Reading Group Guide

Questions & Topics for Discussion
  1. The Prologue contains significant details about Kate and her two sons, one of whom dies tragically in these opening pages. Did having this information up front influence your reading of the story? Why do you suppose Anne Easter Smith chose to reveal these facts in the Prologue?
  2. When Kate is ten years old, her father tells her the story of how he came into possession of an ecu, a French coin, in order to help her understand the concept of loyalty. Loyalty is "when you stand by someone you love or honor and do not desert them even in the bad times," he says. What impact does this conversation have on Kate? How does the idea of loyalty play out in the story? Why does Kate give Richard the ecu to wear when it comes into her possession?
  3. When Kate's parents decide to accept Richard Haute's offer to have Kate join their household, John Bywood says to him, "As much as it do sadden us to see her go, we are obliged to do what is best for Kate." Even ten-year-old Kate acknowledges that "the thrill of a new life at the Mote must outweigh the loss." How do these same statements apply to Kate and her own children many years later?
  4. Kate is reluctant to marry her first husband, Thomas Draper, a man much older than she. But in what ways does Kate's marriage to Thomas come to benefit her? Why is Kate, a smart woman, then so deceived by her second husband, George, who not only marries her for her money but harbors a dark secret?
  5. When Kate finds out why George refuses to consummate their marriage, she decides to keep his secret. Why does she choose not to reveal what she knows, even though it could be the very thing that will free her from her marriage? After George dies, Kate dreams of him and believes this is God's way of "reminding her of the reason for [his] untimely death. If she had told him who her lover was from the beginning, he might not have attempted to find Richard and venture into Sherwood Forest." Does Kate bear any responsibility for George's death?
  6. When Kate travels to the Howard estate and unexpectedly attends the birth of their daughter, she strikes up a friendship with Margaret. In what ways does Kate's friendship with Margaret play an integral role in her life?
  7. When Kate first begins her affair with Richard, he's fifteen and she's two years older. What draws them together? Is their relationship based on more than youthful passion? After the initiation of their love affair at the Howards' home, Richard attempts to persuade Kate to accompany him to London as his mistress. Although she's tempted, as it would allow her to see him more often, why does Kate refuse Richard's offer?
  8. When they return to Bywood Farm in anticipation of Dickon's birth, Geoff remarks to his sister, "Who would have believed how our lives would change, Kate. If it had not been for your boldness...we would still think there was no bigger river than the Medway or town than Tunbridge!" Is their change in fortune due to Kate's "boldness"? Does Kate knowingly use it to her advantage? Is this quality more effective when it comes to the men in her life than the women?
  9. Why does Kate insist on telling Richard in person that Katherine has died? When she breaks the news to him, he says, "I have nothing to live for, Kate. I have lost my wife, my son, my brothers, my nephews, and now my beautiful daughter. I swear to Almighty God I do not care if I live or die.... I wish Richmond would come through that door this very moment and put me out of my misery!" Did Kate do the right thing by telling Richard about their daughter's death right before he went into battle?
  10. Both Margaret and Kate's cousin, Anne, disagree with her decision to send Dickon to Bywood farm to be raised as her brother's child. When Kate tells Richard, however, he commends her for caring about their child so much that she would do such a selfless thing. How do you explain these different reactions? Did Kate make the right decision, particularly in light of what transpires later in the story? What compels Kate to finally reveal the truth to Dickon?
  11. Richard says to Kate about his wife, Anne, "she is a simple soul, Kate, and too vulnerable. In many ways, you would be more suited as a queen." Compare Kate with Richard's wife, Anne, and the role each one plays in his life. If someone were observing their first meeting, what would they conclude about the two women? Why does Richard confide in Kate on numerous occasions after he becomes king?
  12. A Rose for the Crown is a bittersweet story, and the characters experience both moments of great happiness and intense sorrow. What is your overall impression of the book? How does it compare to other works of historical fiction you've read? Did you come away with an understanding of what it was like during, as Smith says in the Author's Note, "one of English history's most complex periods"?

Enhance Your Book Club Discussion

Set the scene — and enliven your taste buds — by serving tea and traditional English delicacies like shortbread, custard, sugared plums, and scones with jam and clotted cream. If your group normally meets at a restaurant, or if you'd like a change of pace, visit www.theteacaddy.com for a directory of tea rooms across the United States.

Select a nonfiction aspect presented in the book, find out more about it, and share your findings with the group. Then discuss its significance in the story, and in particular how it affects Kate. Possible topics include fifteenth-century laws about divorce and annulment, the use of plants and herbs for medicinal purposes, and taking a vow of widowhood.

Throughout history King Richard III has often been remembered as a usurper of the throne and possibly even a murderer. Conduct some research into how he has been portrayed — in books, articles, and even entertainment sources like Shakespeare's plays and twentieth-century film adaptations. Compare your findings to how Smith presents the monarch in the book, taking into account the information she shares in the Author's Note. A listing of resources and links can be found at www.richardiii.net, the website of the Richard III Society, whose mission is to restore the reputation of this controversial historical figure.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 53 )
Rating Distribution

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(33)

4 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    FLAT, FLAT, FLAT

    The storytelling is rather flat and it never gains momentum. It felt like a chore reading such a long book when there's never a climax.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    I couldn't even finish this awful book. Amateur writing and terr

    I couldn't even finish this awful book. Amateur writing and terrible dialogue made it such a chore to read, and after a while I just wondered why I was punishing myself. Anne Easter Smith should stick to writing non-fiction books, because her attempts at fiction are painful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    I have read all of Anne Easter Smith's books in this set and wou

    I have read all of Anne Easter Smith's books in this set and would recommend them all if you enjoy history. A great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    Excellant!

    A friend recommened this book. I couldn't put it down. Strenght, loyalty, love. Very good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Beautiful!

    This an amazing novel, the story of Kate's rise and love with Richard are moving & beautiful. All though there is some heartache but that goes along with history andvthe events that took place. I read this book over 2 years ago and love the romance it is one that will remain with you! I'm glad that the book is going to be an ebook some book can have a rest. I have and will continue to recommend this book, Anne Easter Smith is a great writer!

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sappy romance, way too long

    After reading several historical fiction novels (especially those set in Tudor England), I was excited to get my hands on another novel of this genre! But sadly, A Rose for the Crown let me down. I'm more into the romance than historically accurate facts, but the main characters were not exactly likable, and the author doted on the main character (Kate) too much. "Kate was beautiful" "Every man in the room was looking at Kate" "All eyes turned towards Kate as she entered the chamber". Their romance was too physical, and there didn't seem to be much of an emotional bond between Richard and Kate. Also, the book was very slow to begin, Richard did not even enter the novel until almost 200 pages in! Lastly, the novel itself was not at all well written. A disappointing read.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Great historical fiction

    I really enjoyed this book. I was enthralled by the ongoing love story between Kate and Richard. I felt as if I were there, a part of it. Anne Easter Smith is an incredible story teller. The only thing I did not enjoy was that toward the end of the book there was so much sorrow, sadness, and heartbreak, that I became totally discouraged. I understand that the book follows certain historical facts, so the death of the king was necessary, etc. but I think there was an unneccesary amount of grim details included. My heart was broken for the characters, and I kept wanting something to change, even one happy thing to have happened. But, no it continued to be dismal. Especially in contrast to the beginning of the book that was much lighter and enjoyable to read.

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  • Posted October 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Its okay but where is the history?

    This book seemed to lack all historical details that would have made it interesting. The fact that Richard's mistress can't be identified has given Smith the artistical license to have the character of Kate remove herself from court. Its a nice concept but the reality is that all its done is remove the main character from the action. So many of the key historical events of Richard's life are glossed over in this book with Kate only learning of these events through letters or gossip well after they take place. While Kate's choices in the book may explain why still today Richard's mistress is a mystery, Smith's choice in this character makes the story fall flat. To show one of history's greatest villains in a new light Smith needed a character who was on scene and closer to Richard instead of Kate who often spent years without seeing or hearing from him. I kept waiting for the historical details to come through but instead I kept getting disappointed and found myself bored by Kate's life.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Wonderful First Read!

    I got this book and Anne Easter Smith's other two books, as a Christmas gift. AMAZING! I was hopeing that it would be a good read. It was not a good read, it was a wonderful, touching piece of literature. I devourerd this book and I strongly recommend it. Break out the tissues mid way through and they'll still be in your hand even when you finish it!
    Loved it!

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  • Posted August 14, 2009

    Love this author.

    Another excellent book by Anne Easter Smith. Hope to find more of her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2008

    Not at all original or historical

    I enjoy reading historical fiction. I especially enjoy reading about the histories surrounding the Kings and Queens and Mistresses of Europe.<BR/><BR/>This book reads slow and is NOT an accurate depiction of the generation or the women in this era. Yes, it is fiction...but come on... research please! <BR/><BR/>I was very disappointed and mislead by the reviews. <BR/><BR/>It is also VERY long and winded. Could have wrapped this one up in about 100 pages and paperbacked it under the Harlequin Romance section.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

    A MUST READ BOOK

    I USUALLY DON'T READ THIS TYPE OF BOOK. I'M A MURDER/MYSTERY GIRL. I GRABED THIS BOOK OFF THE SALE RACK BECAUSE IT SOUNDED INTERESTING. WELL NEEDLESS TO SAY I JUST COULDN'T PUT THE BOOK DOWN. THE BOOK WAS DONE WITHIN A WEEK. TRY READING THIS WITH TWO LITTLE ONES RUNNING AROUND!!!! WELL IT WAS DONE AND I FOUND THE TIME THAT IS HOW GOOD I THOUGHT IT WAS. SHE KEEPS YOU WANTING MORE. WANTING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT TO WHO AND WERE. ANNE TAKES YOU BACK IN TIME WANTING YOU TO HAVE BEEN THERE YOURSELF. I WAS REALLY SAD THE BOOK ENDED. I JUST WANTED MORE. THIS WAS ONE STORY I TRULY WISHED DIDN'T END. I'M GLAD SHE HAS THE SECOND ONE OUT. GOING TO GET IT TODAY.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    Loved this book!

    I am a historical fiction lover. I just happened upon this book at a used book store with no expectations. This is one of the best books I have ever read. I felt I was part of that world and did not want to put the book down. I fell in love with King Richard and just about cried when I read the sad parts of the book. I couldn't wait to read and read this book and now I am sad that I'm done!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2008

    a very disappointing book

    I thought this was a very disappointing book. I thought it was going to be a great book, but the book is so long I got bored really fast. Also, I would not recommend this book to younger reader because there is a lot of sexual content in the middle of the book. And, it describes it in quite a lot of detail. I had a hard time getting through this book. I thought this book would be a very good book, but it turned out to be almost the very opposite of what I thought. I also did not really like the main character partially because she always got what she wanted. There did not seem to be a plot to the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2008

    Twilightgirlie!

    this book was great. I read this book when i was going into 8th grade. i was a little young for some of it, but i totally love it. this goes from when Kate Haute was a little girl to a full grown woman. it is not only about a love that could never be (in public at least), but about a girl's life how she loved, lived, got sick, and had children. after reading this book i read other books with the same historical background in it. i do somewhat like history but this book made the lives of men and women in the 1500s seem like a soap opera itself and made so real.:)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2008

    Love Love Love it!

    Wow! What can I say this book was excellent. Once you get towards the end this book is non stop and will keep you on your toes. You will not get bored with this one. This author is now one of my favorites. She really knows how to tell a story. I love how she showed a different side of Richard. One no one would ever have thought of. Was he a bad guy or not? History tells us yes the author says maybe not. It is up to you to decide.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    This was the best book I have ever read. I am a very slow reader because I read every single word. But in this case, I read this book in just days. I can't wait for her to publish a new book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2007

    Very nice

    This book was pretty good. I enjoyed the pace and the atmosphere. This story shed light on characters that I knew nothing about. I did have a problem with the fast paced ending. It was as if she needed to wrap it up really quick.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2007

    loved this book

    As I am a historical romance buff I found this book heartwarming and so literal that I could picture myself there. I really love when authors make book come to life and it feel as if you've lived throught whatever the subject have.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    A Beautiful Love Story

    I just couldn't put this book down! It was so touching and seemed so real, I was crying by the end of the book! A real must-read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews

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