In this historical novel, Darwin (The Mathematics of Love) looks at the 15th century War of the Roses through the Woodville siblings, Anthony and Elizabeth (wife to Sir John Gray and later Edward IV). Trading off narrative duties, their stories alternate with that of a (fictional) present-day historian, Una Pryor, who is studying the two while visiting the U.K. to clear up some family business. Reuniting with the family estate's handyman, her unrequited love Mark Fisher, Una follows the path Anthony took trying to restore his nephew Ned, the rightful king of England. Historical sections, filled with allusion and mythology, make breathtaking drama for those in the know, but anyone without a background in the War of the Roses will be lost (and Darwin's quicksand pacing doesn't help). Court intrigue dominates the action, but Darwin's at her most powerful exploring Anthony's faith or Elizabeth's understanding of women, love and marriage in her time. Though the modern-day framing story isn't compelling enough to hold its own, a satisfying end ties the threads together nicely. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Secret Alchemyby Emma Darwin
The cruel fate of the Princes in the Tower is one of the most fascinating—and most troubling—of all England's historical murder mysteries. But what was the truth behind the deaths of the young Edward V and his brother, Dickon, taken from their mother, Elizabeth Woodville, King Edward IV's beautiful widow, and their guardian, Anthony Woodville? And what… See more details below
The cruel fate of the Princes in the Tower is one of the most fascinating—and most troubling—of all England's historical murder mysteries. But what was the truth behind the deaths of the young Edward V and his brother, Dickon, taken from their mother, Elizabeth Woodville, King Edward IV's beautiful widow, and their guardian, Anthony Woodville? And what about the man who would become King Richard III?
In a brilliant feat of historical daring, the acclaimed author of The Mathematics of Love reimagines the tragedy of the youngest victims of the Wars of the Roses. Through the voices of Elizabeth, Anthony, and Una—a historian who herself knows grief, betrayal, and secret love—Emma Darwin re-creates the lethal power struggles into which the boys were born, their heart-wrenching imprisonment, and the ultimate betrayal of their innocence.
Darwin's debut, The Mathematics of Love, successfully alternated two plotlines-one historical and one contemporary. In her sophmore effort, she uses the same technique to contrast the experiences of actual historical figures Elizabeth Woodville (1437-92), queen of Edward IV, and her brother Anthony, 2nd Earl Rivers, with those of fictional historian Una Pryor, who has returned to England to visit family after her husband's death. Una's study of these royals helps her escape her own sorrow and unites the two stories. Despite two pages detailing royal British lineages at the time of the War of the Roses, the preponderance of Edwards, Richards, and Henrys makes for extremely confusing reading. As a result, it's hard to appreciate Elizabeth's adaptability as she woos Edward Plantagenet as a young widow, then bears him ten children, several of whom are killed when his brother Richard assumes the throne upon Edward's death. For American readers, the historical note at the end of the novel would have been more usefully placed at the beginning. Still, Anglophiles and British history majors will enjoy.
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