Volume four in Philippa Gregory’s The Cousins’ War series, The Kingmaker's Daughter, releases on August 14, 2012.
Here's how the publisher describes the new novel: The Kingmaker's Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.
Simon and Schuster Canada has been kind enough to provide an excerpt of this new novel, which we’re pleased to present. (Readers, please note that this narration is from young Anne Neville’s point of view.)
The Tower of London, May 1465
My lady mother goes first, a great heiress in her own right, and the wife of the greatest subject in the kingdom. Isabel follows, because she is the oldest. Then me: I come last, I always come last. I can’t see much as we walk into the great throne room of the Tower of London, and my mother leads my sister to curtsey to the throne and steps aside. Isabel sinks down low, as we have been taught, for a king is a king even if he is a young man put on the throne by my father. His wife will be The Tower of London, May 1465 crowned queen, whatever we may think of her. Then as I step forwards to make my curtsey I get my first good view of the woman that we have come to court to honor.
She is breathtaking: the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life. At once I understand why the king stopped his army at the first sight of her, and married her within weeks. She has a smile that grows slowly and then shines, like an angel’s smile. I have seen statues that would look stodgy beside her, I have seen painted Madonnas whose features would be coarse beside her pale luminous loveliness. I rise up from my curtsey to stare at her as if she were an exquisite icon; I cannot look away. Under my scrutiny her face warms, she blushes, she smiles at me, and I cannot help but beam in reply. She laughs at that, as if she finds my open adoration amusing, and then I see my mother’s furious glance and I scuttle to her side where my sister Isabel is scowling. “You were staring like an idiot,” she hisses. “Embarrassing us all. What would Father say?”
The king steps forwards and kisses my mother warmly on both cheeks. “Have you heard from my dear friend, your lord?” he asks her. “Working well in your service,” she says promptly, for Father is missing tonight’s banquet and all the celebrations, as he is meeting with the King of France himself and the Duke of Burgundy, meeting with them as an equal, to make peace with these mighty men of Christendom now that the sleeping king has been defeated and we are the new rulers of England. My father is a great man; he is representing this new king and all of England.
The king, the new king—our king—does a funny mock bow to Isabel and pats my cheek. He has known us since we were little girls too small to come to such banquets and he was a boy in our father’s keeping. Meanwhile my mother looks about her as if we were at home in Calais Castle, seeking to find fault with something the servants have done. I know that she is longing to see anything that she can report later to my father as evidence that this most beautiful queen is unfit for her position. By the sour expression on her face I guess that she has found nothing.
Nobody likes this queen; I should not admire her. It shouldn’t matter to us that she smiles warmly at Isabel and me, that she rises from her great chair to come forwards and clasp my mother’s hands. We are all determined not to like her. My father had a good marriage planned for this king, a great match: a princess of France. My father worked at this, prepared the ground, drafted the marriage contract, persuaded people who hate the French that this would be a good thing for the country, would safeguard Calais, might even get Bordeaux back into our keeping, but then Edward, the new king, the heart-stoppingly handsome and glamorous new king, our darling Edward—like a younger brother to my father and a glorious uncle to us—said as simply as if he were ordering his dinner that he were married already and nothing could be done about it. Married already? Yes, and to Her.
From THE KINGMAKER’S DAUGHTER by Philippa Gregory. Copyright © 2012 by Philippa Gregory. Published by Touchstone Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.