Lesley J. Nickell,
The White Queen of Middleham
(published in 1978 as The White Queen)
(Mereo Books, 2014)

This is a historical novel based on the life of Anne Neville, wife to Britain's Richard III. Please note that it is a reprint of a novel originally published in 1978 as The White Queen.

I found this long book a very frustrating read, because Anne, the title character, developed neither a voice nor a spine at any point. She greeted everything with mute acquiescence and suffering, often nigh unto death, from which she would be rescued.

Even in climactic scenes, where one word from her would mean the difference between her dreams being realized, and all her hopes crushed -- she chooses not to speak that word, and in at least one of them, for no particular reason I can see.

Now, I understand the concept of learned helplessness. Still, 337 pages of small type is far too long to have to deal with a "heroine" whose preferred response to tragedy is to fall into a coma and almost die. Several times over.

And -- from some of the hints given, that's not fair to the historical Anne, who apparently competently managed large households, including palaces, extremely competently and smoothly ... yet we see her exclusively as a put-upon, suffering waif.

If you are a fan of novels written in and about the War of the Roses, you may want to read this. Personally, I found Anne as depicted here dismal and depressing, and even the love story could not overcome that.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

1 Aug. 2015

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