The Virgin Widow
During the War of the Roses, Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker, is a young woman from one of the most powerful and wealthy families in England. She has very few choices and lives much of her life in turmoil. The Virgin Widow tells Anne’s story beginning with her childhood until the year 1472. When Anne is a child, Richard, duke of Gloucester, brother of King Edward IV, is sent to live with the Nevilles at Middleham Castle to be tutored and trained. During this time, Anne and Richard develop a friendship which turns into love. Eventually the pair is betrothed.
The ambition of her father puts everyone in the Neville family in jeopardy time after time as he uses his two daughters as political pawns. His oldest daughter, Isabel, is married to George, Duke of Clarence, another of Edward IV’s brothers. Warwick has a falling-out with the king and fails in his plot to crown Clarence. The Nevilles are labeled as traitors and flee to France for refuge. While in France, Anne is betrothed to and later marries Prince Edward, the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, in order to create another political alliance, this time to restore Henry VI to the throne. She quickly discovers that the Prince is a cruel and manipulative person who is essentially controlled by his overbearing mother, who humiliates Anne. As the battle for England continues, Anne finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage, longing for her true love, Richard, and worrying about his safety back in England.
O’Brien has created realistic, multifaceted characters in both Richard and Anne. Using Anne as the narrator gives the events a unique perspective. I highly recommend this title, which is filled with political intrigue and romance.