A Rose for the Crown

Written by Anne Easter Smith
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Kate Haute is a young woman from a lowly background, taken into her uncle’s household and given the great privilege of becoming educated and trained in the ways of upper-class society. She is married to an older, kindly and well-heeled merchant who soon dies, leaving her a wealthy widow. Then she marries for love, she thinks, but her husband has taken her for the proverbial ride: it is her money he wants, not her company or to share her bed.

By sheer inadvertence, Kate meets the young Richard of Gloucester, and so marks the beginning of their lifelong, passionate relationship, the birth of their three beloved illegitimate children, and their struggle to remain loyal to one another during periods of war, personal tragedy and political highs and lows—not the least of which is Richard’s marriage to his queen, Anne. Although Kate has recognized all along that Richard can never marry her, the depth of her despair when he does marry is palpable.

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.