A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith
Spending a lot of hours parked in parents’ waiting rooms gives one a lot of time for reading. I found this book through a fellow historical fiction-loving parent. She was reading Daughter of York also by Anne Easter Smith and recommended her as an author.
The book is what I would call r0mantic historical fiction, not quite a r0mance novel, definitely not a “b0dice ripper,” but certainly a work of fiction intent on focusing on an invented r0mance of Richard III. It is noted in records that he had two illegitimate children and Easter-Smith starts her story giving those two children the same mother.
The book starts at the end of the story with a gruesome execution of a purported traitor to the throne of King Henry Tudor. A mature Katherine “Kate” Bywood-Draper-Haute and her son are witnesses. Then the next chapter sweeps the reader back thirty-two years to find Kate as a nine year-old peasant girl.
The first half of the book is actually a nice piece of fiction and moves along rapidly. Kate’s early years are engaging and bordered and shaped by various historical events. Sadly the second half of the book becomes a bit predictable and slows down. It does finish well—depressing, but well. The last few chapters are well done and make it worth working through.
This book took me quite a while to read. As I said, the first half was a quick read and then I stalled out and put it aside for quite a while. I have a hard time not finishing books and so finally returned to it. I’m glad that I did. I was able to regain interest in it and felt that closure one finds finishing a large book.
Anne Easter Smith has researched her setting well. Her characters are inconsistent, sometimes rich and sometimes a bit flat. She provides 636 pages of pretty good fiction and the edition I read offered a reading group discussion guide and an interview with the author, something that might be of interest if looking for a book club book.
Overall I would recommend this for historical fiction lovers if they don’t mind r0mance in their fiction. I would equate Anne Easter Smith with Philippa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon. I wouldn’t put it in the same category with my beloved Morland Dynasty series, but it was pretty good. If you are looking for a good summer read, not terribly complicated this might be it.