Read The Virgin Widow by Anne O'Brien Online

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A dazzling historical novel set during England's War of the Roses- the story of the courageous Anne Neville, future wife of Richard III, who comes of age in a time of chaos... Anne Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, grows up during the War of the Roses, a time when kings and queens are made and destroyed in an on-going battle for the ultimate prize: the tA dazzling historical novel set during England's War of the Roses- the story of the courageous Anne Neville, future wife of Richard III, who comes of age in a time of chaos... Anne Neville, daughter of the powerful Earl of Warwick, grows up during the War of the Roses, a time when kings and queens are made and destroyed in an on-going battle for the ultimate prize: the throne of England. As a child Anne falls in love with the ambitious, proud Richard of Gloucester, third son of the House of York. But when her father is branded a traitor, her family must flee to exile in France. As Anne matures into a beautiful, poised woman, skillfully navigating the treacherous royal court of Margaret of Anjou, she secretly longs for Richard, who has become a great man under his brother's rule. But as their families scheme for power, Anne must protect her heart from betrayals on both sides-and from the man she has always loved, and cannot bring herself to trust....

Title : The Virgin Widow
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780451231291
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 409 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Virgin Widow Reviews

  • Ellen Ekstrom
    2018-11-18 20:40

    Anne Neville is on my list of favorite queens - I prefer the outrageous and the neglected ones, hence Eleanor of Aquitaine and Anne Neville being way up there on the notepad. Anne O'Brien's story of the early life of Anne Neville (or Nevill), youngest daughter of celebrated earl Richard Neville of Warwick, aka "The Kingmaker," was refreshing, different and followed the historical timeline with artistic license. The histories are silent regarding Richard the Third's queen save that she was a political pawn during the Wars of Roses and she may or may not have been a childhood sweetheart of Richard. We are shown Anne's life as the daughter of the second most powerful magnate in England during the early reign of Edward IV, her exile as a result of her father's political blunders, her betrothal/marriage to Edward of Wales, son of Henry VI, and yet another turn as a political pawn as Edward's younger brothers, George of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester squabble over her portion of the Nevill inheritance after the death of Warwick at the Battle of Barnet.Ms. O'Brien does not give us a doe-eyed, suffering, victim in this Anne. She is compliant with her father's wishes, to be sure - she had no choice - but she shows strength and dignity in spite of all that is thrown at her, especially when she is forced to live with Queen Marguerite of Anjou and Edward and is witness to a royal household living in exile, living on the brink of destruction as the Queen tries to reclaim England for her husband and son, and Anne can do nothing. I enjoyed Ms. O'Brien's portrayal of Richard, duke of Gloucester who would later become King Richard the Third. He is enigmatic, quiet, a volcano not quite ready to explode and sure of his means and methods in getting what he wants. Shakespeare portrayed him as a dark, sinister, character and some of that legend is given to us, but with interesting twists - I won't spoil it for you - that I thought made the well-known story of Richard and Anne more interesting. He is sympathetic, but no angel. Anne's legendary 'disappearance' in London is also a part of the story and again, Ms. O'Brien tells a different story than I've read in the past and again, I loved it. Anne Nevill tells her own story and the prose is straightforward, real, and enjoyable, as is the dialogue without Anne, the Lancasters, the Yorks, sounding or playing out like a cable-TV soap opera. I would love it if Ms. O'Brien wrote the rest of Anne's story, sad though it was, especially if it gave us the struggles and heartbreak that fell upon Anne after Richard seized the throne in 1483. Yes, I recommend this book and it's going on my 'read-it-again' shelf.

  • Julia
    2018-12-08 23:28

    Warning, there be spoilers. And me being an irritated history fan.I'll say it upfront: I did not like this book, and I had several problems with it.Anne Neville in this book is portrayed as courageous, headstrong, and determined. However, there were several points in the book where she was just plain annoying and childish. It's even more irritating since the book is told entirely from her perspective.Another thing I had a problem with was Anne and Richard's marriage. The book states that they obtained no papal dispensation (receive official permission from the Pope in order to wed because of how closely related they were) for their marriage and had their wedding at St. Stephens in a private ceremony. Historically, the two were married at Westminster Abbey, in London in July 1472.I also had problems with the implications that Edward of Lancaster (Anne's first husband) and his mother Margaret of Anjou were incestuous. I nearly threw the book against the wall at that point and almost gave up on reading, but I plowed on. I wanted to finish this book.The ending of the novel was underwhelming - it ends with Anne's son Edward of Middleham being born. Even though Richard and Anne are crowned King and Queen in 1483, it never happens in the book.I almost threw the book against the wall again when the author stated that Anne "probably died from cancer" in the Reader's Guide at the end. It was actually tuberculosis.The Virgin Widow is best classified as a historical romance novel, with more emphasis on the romance part and less on historical accuracy. I'd recommend it for those who enjoy historical romance, but if you're looking for precise accuracy this isn't the book for you.

  • Kathleen
    2018-11-16 00:39

    I guess we should thank Phillpa Gregory for a revival in historical romance; if only the hangers on had her talent! I have read a slew of do-I -want- to- be-a bodice ripper-or-do-I-want-to-pretend-I-have-historical-value-novels.This one probably falls in the middle of the pack as far as readability and historical accuracy goes. I think the authors of this genre should pay attention to how the authors of historical mysteries (like Margaret Frazier and Paul Doherty) weave their fact and fiction.

  • Elizabeta
    2018-12-04 22:15

    Great book, fast pace, never a dull moment.

  • Girls Gone Reading
    2018-11-15 20:22

    As a fan of historical fiction, I was excited to read The Virgin Widow. I was even more excited to find out that it was a fast, fun read that was interesting throughout.O’Brien lists Anne Neville as the “forgotten queen”, and although she might be forgotten she shouldn’t be.Traded back and forth like the perfect commodity, Anne was two times a queen. Posed on both sides of the War of the Roses, Anne was never able to choose a husband for herself. Instead, Anne made the only choice available to her, and she decided to handle these matches obediently and patiently. The Virgin Widow allows readers into the mind of “traded” bride, and I thought O’Brien developed her character well.One area I found troubling was the relationship between Anne Neville and Richard of Gloucester. If my calculations are correct, then Richard and Anne were first cousins. I know. I know. This was common practice at the time, but I still found the love story between the two disturbing. I was able to get past it though because Anne was such a likable character.Overall, The Virgin Widow was an intriguing read that introduced me to the War of the Roses.

  • Miranda Lynn
    2018-11-28 18:16

    DNF after 80 pagesUgh. UGH. So boring. I just couldn't make myself continue.I got sucked in at the bookstore by the intriguing and so cliché title, but it just wasn't a very good book. After 80 pages, pretty much NOTHING had happened, and there wasn't even any good characterization or a tantalizing romance to keep me interested.Oh well!

  • Marty :} (thecursedbooks)
    2018-12-06 17:21

    "As for Richard - he is the light of my life. And I of his, so he says."I have so much love for these two, they are my historical otp and there's so little known about their relationship. Richard III is very famous, he's the maligned king, but Anne Neville is known as 'the forgotten queen', which is very sad because I have the feeling that she was a very strong woman of the history. I want to start off by saying that I hate the Tudor propaganda and I believe Richard is not guitly of half the things they say he is. He might or might not have killed the Princes in the Tower (I'm skeptical because it was in his best interests to show the bodies like Edward showed Richard Neville's)...Now that I made this clear, I want to say that I liked Richard's characterization in this book, it was more realistic, though it was at times very romantic, but I believe that was more how Richard III was like. Very loyal to his brother the king, loyal and a great warrior that knew he had to take risks in order to win. Anne Neville, the protagonist of this book, was a pawn in the War of Roses and her path was very interesting to follow. I loved to see more of her first marriage, I wished the sisters got along more (at least during their childhood), I have a feeling that Isabel wasn't as greedy as George was and I wish this book hadn't made her seem almost as bad as her husband. I've read some reviews of this book before I've started it and I have to agree that the secondary characters weren't as developed as Anne and Richard, but I still enjoyed the book nonetheless.It's so awful to think of those times, I think it wasn't a great period to be a woman considering you had to marry at 14 years old or even earlier and bear children and worry about heirs and all that. Anne Neville had to struggle during her first marriage and she was very young and a bit immature (as it had been shown in the book, she figured out her father's plan so late), but she soon developed into a stronger character and you could see that. Her development and her relationship with Richard were the things I loved the most (they are just so cute together, I'm dying). The things I didn't like about this book : there were some inaccuracies, (view spoiler)[ like the suggestion of an incestuous relationship between Margaret and Edward, I've read several articles on the War of Roses and I couldn't find anything on that. And after I've read that passage, I googled them once again and still couldn't find anything. As I see them, Margaret of Anjou was a very ambitious woman and was projecting all of her ambitions on her son, trying to make him king, trying to make him very strong even if it meant giving him no autonomy. Sometimes strong people do that to their children. It happens. (hide spoiler)] , the fact that Richard and Anne didn't get a dispensation before their marriage, I'm pretty sure The Tudors supporters would have raged about it, if it happened, but I haven't heard of it before either. Also, another thing that irked me off was Richard killing Edward of Lancaster, another thing that was strongly denied by most contemporary historians, but supported by Shakespeare (whom I'm not going to trust on anything about Richard, sorry) .So, while there were some inaccuracies, this book was very entertaining and I mostly loved the fact that Anne O'Brien decided to write a book about Anne Neville, with little historical facts since there aren't any letters of hers or documents... It was a bold move and I loved the writing in this one, the dialogues and the relationships. It was a great book overall for people who want to focus on the romance between Richard III and Anne Neville, if you're looking for something very historical accurate and focused on the battles and the politics, you'll probably have to look for another book.

  • Maria Grazia
    2018-11-26 17:23

    As soon as Anne O'Brien talked to me of her first book on Anne Neville, VIRGIN WIDOW, while we were arranging her interview for my blog www.flyhigh-by-learnonline.blogspot.com to present her second historical novel, Queen Defiant, I wished I could read it. After Sharon Key Penman's The Sunne in Splendour, and Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time , I wanted to know more about those events linked to the War of the Roses and to King Richard III's personal story. I was curious to see those known facts from a different point of view, from Anne Neville's eyes. She lived for only twenty- eight years and left little imprint of herself in history books so, maybe, this is what makes her an intriguing enigma. Such a fascinating character, whose personality may be freely created through imagination- since other than the date of birth and death and a minimum record of the significant events in her life, we know nothing about her likes, temper, wishes, personal reactions - couldn't go on ignored by historical fiction. This is the blank Anne O'Brien tried to fill in writing VIRGIN WIDOW. This novel is first of all a romance, following the legendary love story between Anne Neville and her cousin, Richard Plantagenet; then it is an adventure story full of action, conspiracy, battles, horseback journeys, dangerous crossing the Channel, lots of twists and turns; it is also a formation novel following Anne's growing up and turning from a very young, arrogant, proud girl from a powerful and privileged family to a mature, determined and even stoic young woman; finally, it is a thorough accurate narration of historical events. The narrative opens in medias res, with the Nevilles and Clarence leaving England for France on exile. We follow Anne Neville's memories and witness the present events through her first person narration. We follow the story of her young years as the heiress and daughter of the Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, is trapped in a deadly tangle of political intrigue, used by the houses of Neville, York and Lancaster alike. Then, her fall into disgrace, her struggle through the most terrible, humiliating experiences both in France, as the wife of Edward of Lancaster, as well as in her country, where she must defend herself from her own sister's and brother-in-law's plot.Richard Plantagenet, though he acts as a knight in shining armour to protect and finally wed his beloved Anne, in this novel is quite a round character with his own flaws and faults, quite different from the almost perfect portrayal we've met in other novels about him. Anne herself is a rather gripping character, for her strength and bravery, but also for her human imperfection, especially in her relationship with Richard, where she shows all her frailty and vulnerability.There are some differences of opinion among historians : did Anne remain a virgin throughout her first marriage? Did the birth of Anne and Richard's son's - the date is uncertain - suggest his conception before their marriage? There is no evidence of an attraction between Anne and Richard during their upbringing at Middleham - but there is no evidence it did not exist. Anne O'Brien works on these speculations creating a convincing plot, a compulsively readable novel, supported by her vivid prose and accurate knowledge of the historical background. We leave Anne and Richard at the apex of their happiness. Their son has just been born, they are young and both deeply in love. The worst moments in the past are dark memories. The future yet unknown to them. Alas, not to us."Richard smiles at me. His eyes are dark with pride and love"

  • Misfit
    2018-11-21 17:37

    More romance than historical. Full review here, http://misfitandmom.wordpress.com/201...

  • Teresa Gibson
    2018-11-19 23:34

    Richard III was SEXY!!! I completely enjoyed this fresh look at a much maligned person from history, no thanks to William Shakespeare. Anne O'Brien is a historian who thoroughly knows this time period (War of the Roses). As an American, I was somewhat unfamiliar with the history of the Houses of York and Lancaster and their struggles over the throne of England. But O'Brien's storytelling (although I realize that most scenes and all dialogue were fictionalized) help to breathe life into the history and help the reader understand the political intrigues, war, and manipulations of the time. Richard is depicted as a war hero, a trusted aide to his brother King Edward, and the true love of Anne Neville, his distant cousin. The story is told from Anne's point of view, and while I am not a fan of first person storytelling (as it limits other characters' viewpoints), it works in this case as the reader encounters surprises through Anne's eyes. This is also the first recent historical fiction I've read in which the author does not step away from the story to give the reader a history lesson. O'Brien lets her writing tell history through context, which keeps the story fast-paced. I'm off to read more about Richard!

  • Mieke
    2018-12-04 20:10

    I really wanted to like this book; I find Anne Neville and her story fascinating. The book is a nice enough run-through of what little we *do* know about Anne, as well as her part in the Wars of the Roses, and I enjoyed it as a novel, but I didn't walk away loving it. I also found the "closure" a bit unsettling ~ after spending many many pages learning about Anne and coming to care for her, a one sentence "she died in ...." was a bit harsh!And, also, the title is a bit misleading ~ the book covers no time that Anne was actually Queen ....

  • Meghann Andreassen
    2018-11-30 19:18

    A stirring romance painted on a historical canvas of palace intrigue, ambition, deceit, and betrayal. Prepare to discover one of the world’s oft-overlooked heroines, who lived during England’s notorious Wars of the Roses. Daughter of The Kingmaker and beloved of the future King Richard III, Anne Neville’s voice will leave a powerful impact long after you turn the last page.Anne O’Brien’s debut novel is nothing short of an impressive start to what could very possibly evolve into an illustrious writing career. Bravely plunging head-first into what has become a somewhat saturated sub-genre of historical fiction, she expertly carves out her own niche and creates a fresh style, rather than leaving readers feeling as though they’ve read it all before. Managing – in a succinct yet eloquently poetic manner – to bring to life one of history’s more obscure heroines; painting a world of romance and intrigue, while still remaining true to the period in which her characters reside.“The Virgin Widow” is a story told in the voice of Lady Anne Neville, youngest child of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warick…infamously known in history books as The Kingmaker. A man who was single-handedly responsible for placing Kings on the throne of England as surely as he was responsible for cutting them down. Arguably one of the most influential players in England’s notorious Wars of the Roses…giving Anne (and through her, the audience) a front-row seat to witness a bloody, tumultuous period in history.The novel itself begins not at the beginning of the Wars, but rather starts at the peak of triumph for the Neville family. King Edward IV is firmly in place on the throne, beloved by all, and The Kingmaker who put him there is beloved and trusted above all others as an advisor. Anne Neville is at this time merely eight years old. Watching the hustle and bustle of her household through the eyes of a child; the important nobility moving through her father’s dining halls even as children from royal houses are sent to live in her home to learn proper etiquette and behavior. And it’s no surprise that at first Anne has an idolized view of her father; seeing him as a man with no equal in prowess or intelligence.Into this world comes Richard of Gloucester, the younger brother of King Edward. At first Anne doesn’t particularly care for the dark-haired, solemn youth…but as time marches on and the pair grow up together, the inevitable happens as a young romance begins to bloom.The author manages to do what so few historical authors can; artfully summarizing the passage of years in a matter of a few chapters, rather than bogging her audience down with minute details that would risk boring the senses. O’Brien is able to aptly and efficiently paint a world of harsh realities (particularly for women) and dangerous undercurrents, yet always maintaining the flow of the story. There is never a dull moment; never a page that seems like wasted space.Readers become aware, quickly, of the fact that even as life for young Anne is beginning to shine as she falls in love for the first time, life for her beloved father is on the decline. His place at court thrown into question by King Edward’s ill-advised marriage to a commoner; an ambitious woman who slowly but surely places her own family at court and as a result displaces, one by one, the Nevilles and all of their carefully won influence.Anne herself is forced to grow up rapidly; at first offered a glorious, fairy-tale happily ever after when she is betrothed to Richard, the man she loves…only to see that betrothal ripped away when she and the King’s brother are used as pawns in a dangerous game of chess between King Edward and the Earl. Her life is sent careening through one disastrous mistake after another; showing her that not only does a daughter reap the rewards of her father’s triumphs, but she also must suffer for his mistakes. Forcing an understanding that with ambition there is often a heavy price to be paid.O’Brien, above all else, does an outstanding job of remaining true to Anne’s character throughout everything that transpires in the novel. Not once does it seem she loses sight of just who her narrator is; unafraid to at times bequeath in Anne painfully human flaws, but then also allowing her, as a result, to have other shining moments of stunning sacrifice and courage. Nothing is swept under the rug. There is nothing sugar-coated about the author’s depiction of Lady Anne Neville.And yet that, more than anything, is what makes this debut novel such a gem.Anne begins the novel as a young, precocious, somewhat spoiled child. Having grown up surrounded by all the best money can buy. Loved by her mother and her father. Knowing she is destined for a great marriage and an influential life at court. Believing above all else that her father is just and correct in all things. It goes without saying; there are times at the start of the novel where readers may not like Lady Anne very much. But truly…can’t that be said of any adolescent girl? For adolescent she is, and the author isn’t afraid to wallow in that painful phase of growth and development for a while, like pushing on a sore bruise and leaving the audience often cringing and wincing at some of Anne’s behavior.Yet it works. By allowing readers to see where Anne starts, it makes us appreciate all the more what she grows into as she matures into an intelligent, courageous young woman. Because no matter what her flaws may be, Anne is always endearing. Readers, like Richard of Gloucester himself, cannot help but fall in love with her. And as a result, we weep for her as her world falls apart. Watching as, through her father’s mistakes, she is forced to pay a heavy price. Her pride stripped bare. Her heart crushed as the man she loves is torn away from her. Thrust into a loveless marriage in a foreign land, and all but abused by a vicious and distrustful mother-in-law; a disillusioned child sacrificed by the father she’s always adored in the name of his ambition.O’Brien allows Anne to overcome her struggles and fight for what she loves in a manner that is dignified, admirable, and tear-worthy…all while remaining in the end true to the era in which she lives. There is never a moment where readers will roll their eyes as the author injects a modern woman’s personality or modern day sentiments into the middle ages. No; for all her intelligence and her pride and her courage, Anne is forced, as all women of her day were, to endure the machinations and the plotting and the scheming of the men in her life. In the end doing the only thing she could by clambering towards the one man who could potentially protect her, and in the end save her and grant her some semblance of freedom.It’s a beautifully woven tale that reads very, very quickly, with Anne O’Brien easily holding her own against some of the more seasoned historical fiction authors of today. And by choosing a lesser-known character in the stories of the Wars of the Roses, readers are allowed a new perspective on an age-old tale. Anne Neville herself is an engaging, three-dimensional character with flaws, struggles, triumphs, and strengths, and there is never a question while reading her story that she is worthy of her own novel. The only true downside to this book is that it had to end.

  • Small Review
    2018-11-13 23:15

    Originally posted at Small Review3.5 starsI've been trying to read through more of the books I own, and I've owned The Virgin Widow for about four years. For such a large book (hey, for me 400 pages is large!), it was a pretty quick read.It was also a pretty surface-level read. Which, isn't a bad thing, but it is a little disappointing. Anne O'Brien mostly focuses on events and throws in a few one-note emotions for flavor. Basically, Anne loves Richard. Anne doesn't like admitting that to Richard (this causes misunderstandings). Anne likes her mom. Anne pretty much dislikes everyone else. Her emotions are shared in a very surface-level way without much explanation or depth, but Anne O'Brien makes sure the reader gets it through a lot of repetition. This effectively sorts the characters into the "good guys" and the "bad guys" without much nuance or character development.The closest O'Brien gets to the type of exploration I'd prefer is with Anne's changing relationship with her father. This was also pretty thinly explored, but at least it was explored and is one of the only instances of Anne actually growing or changing as a person.I also hated the invented incestuous relationship between Margaret of Anjou and her son. And, really, their entire characterizations. They were clearly the Baddies and Anne O'Brien seemed to relish in making up evil actions for them to engage in. I'm surprised our heroine didn't walk in on the pair cackling evilly over a cauldron. This was embarrassingly awful, but once I accepted it, it was actually kind of fun in an absurd way.I'm not sure whether to put this in as a good thing or a bad thing, but I couldn't help but picture all the characters as they appeared in the miniseries version of Philippa Gregory's The White Queen. The events follow so closely and the characters are more or less written the same (though, TWQ miniseries had a lot more character depth and development, and that's not saying much). Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the miniseries and was able to get on board with most of the casting, so the association actually enhanced my enjoyment of The Virgin Widow.I also appreciated how lockstep the characterizations were between this book and the miniseries. I don't think we can actually know for certain how all of these people acted, thought, and felt, but consensus among authors gives the illusion of truth (or plagiarism. Or lack of originality. I'd rather just pretend it's evidence of truth).As for events, the broad strokes are all pretty much true. There are some tweaks in timing, and don't look too closely at the details, but if you unfocus your eyes and look at the blurry structure of events, it's pretty spot on. You have all the major players and events represented, just with a little mixing, tweaking, and smushing going on. Yes, I realize how absurd that sounds.Despite its numerous flaws, I couldn't help but enjoy The Virgin Widow. Anne is likable enough and I didn't mind the overly fluffy romance between her and Richard. The story ends before Edward IV dies, so everything is happiness and love for Anne and Richard when we leave them. It was nice.Bottom lineIf the story felt a little false, it was a nice, fluffy kind of false. Look at this more as a romantic novel with a dash of history rather than the reverse. I think I would have been bothered more by The Virgin Widow if I didn't already know enough about the Wars of the Roses to be able to spot the inaccuracies. As it was, I wasn't fooled into "learning" something about history that's wrong (the biggest reason I hate inaccurate historical fiction), and I could just enjoy the romantic spin on what is, to me, an undeniably exciting slice of history.

  • Elena
    2018-11-27 16:35

    “Virgin Widow” is the story of Anne Neville, Richard III's wife, even though the book ends before she becomes queen. This is a shame, but I can see why O'Brien decided not to go there: the book is mostly about the love story between Anne and Richard, and their last years were not very idyllic.It is clear from the beginning that this is more a historical romance than a historical novel. The book is fluffy, there is no denying it. However, there are several interesting things happening which do not revolve around the love story, and luckily Anne did not spend the whole book pining for Gloucester – okay, she did, but not so much that I could not stand her.Besides, I must admit I've always liked the idea of Anne and Richard. The theory of them falling in love in their young years and then finally getting together is definitely romantic. And, even if I think the real Richard was probably guilty of most he is accused of, in fiction I like to see him portrayed as a capable, charming and mostly misunderstood guy. The main problem of the book, in my opinion, is that Anne and Richard are believable and well-developed characters, while the others are mostly two-dimensional, and remain very secondary comparing to the main couple. This is a shame, because there are many fascinating figures who could have been more featured: Warwick, Isabel, Edward and many others. I was especially annoyed with Margaret of Anjou's character, who is portrayed as an evil woman without any good qualities. I have a strong admiration for her and so I was disappointed, and I also had many problems with the implication that (view spoiler)[she and her son Edward had an incestuous relationship (hide spoiler)]. As I said, however, I was quite happy with Richard's and Anne's portrayals. They are both annoying in several occasions, but they are not idealized. Anne is very different from what I was expecting: I imagined her to be gentler and quieter, while she is always very vocal and proud. She is quite unlikeable when she is young, and she remains painfully naive for the whole book, buy she is also strong-willed and determined, and I admired her for that. The plot is mostly enjoyable, even if I liked the first part more than the second. The story starts in medias res, with Anne's sister Isabel giving birth to her child on a ship, because the Nevilles are forced to escape England after they become traitors. Then the story goes back and explains how they arrived here. This is a device I am very fond of, so I was immediately well-disposed towards the book. O'Brien spends a lot of time telling us about Anne and Richard's childhood together, and she manages to make their relationship believable. There is no insta-love, and they are friends before lovers, which is always nice to see. All things considered, I think their relationship made sense, enough that I could root for them (even if both of them are awful to the other in several points of the book). Anne's time in France is also enjoyable despite my problems with Margaret of Anjou's portrayal. The story remains strong until Anne's return in England, but then I think the plot began to drag a little. I got bored with the last 100 pages. The whole “does Richard love me for my money or myself?” drama seemed endless. The happy ending is a little forced, especially if you know what happens next, but Anne definitely deserved it after all her troubles. In the end I found the book to be mostly enjoyable, despite my problems with it. Recommended if you want a light, fluffy read, if you like Richard III and if you are not too touchy about historical accuracy.

  • Jackleen
    2018-11-21 22:16

    Three and a half starsThe Virgin Widow is a historical romance set during the war of the roses concerning Anne Neville, youngest daughter of the king maker, the Earl of Warwick. We are introduced to a young Anne, at the age of 6, and follow her journey through England and France, as well as, her father’s shifting alliances between the houses of York and Lancaster. Although very much a pawn in these royal intrigues, Anne demonstrates courage, strength and fortitude, as her life takes her from princess to kitchen maid. Throughout her struggles, her heart remains with Richard, youngest brother to King Edward IV. Manipulated by her father, humiliated by Queen Margaret of Anjou and her son Edward of Lancaster, and finally betrayed by her own sister, Anne story is one that deserves to be heard.There is much to like in O’Brien portrayal of Anne Neville, the material for the story could not be better, as Anne lived a very eventful life. It is quite remarkable, given the nature of Anne’s life that there are not more books written about her. O’Brien gives good detail to the historical period and the story is both captivating and compelling.My concerns for this book are at the end. The book was great up to the end where it descended from a good historical novel to a ‘does he love me’ romance for far too many pages. Also, the story ends while Anne is only 16, shortly after the birth of her son, when so much more of Anne’s story was left to be written. Anne as a historical character remains waiting to be heard. I wanted to know how she felt upon the sudden death of Edward IV, the missing princes and finally upon her ascension to the throne of England. Perhaps, O’Brien has another book in mind for Anne…

  • Susan Wang
    2018-11-15 00:17

    Despite the story being set in historical times, this is first and foremost a romance novel. The story is told through the voice of a very young Anne Neville, so all her idealizations of the various characters, in particular of Richard III, were justified, though rather unbelievable. The romance between Anne and Richard is extremely, well, romantic -- not a blemish of insincerity could be found. While the purity of this love is the one aspect of the book that compelled me to finish the book, I had to constantly remind myself that this was probably the aspect that had the least evidence in history.I liked the depiction of Anne and Isabel at the beginning of the novel, so very naive and innocent as they should have been at that age. Later on in life, after having endured so much distress under the care of Margaret of Anjou, I would have expected Anne to have matured more. Her incessant nagging of "does Richard truly love me" was insufferable to say the least. In her position, she should not have questioned his affections, especially since he had seemingly traveled back and forth through England to defend her cause -- it seemed he had all the time in the world to perform both the duties of the King's right-hand man and of Anne's chief supporter. And yet he had to endure Anne's endless questioning of his sincerity, because Anne is so obtuse to believe words speak louder than actions. All in all, the romance was the highlight of the novel, but the character development was poor. The main character remained juvenile from beginning to end, reducing this book to simply being a teen romance novel, rather than the historical fiction that it could have potentially been.

  • Gaile
    2018-11-21 19:35

    Very little information comes to us about Anne Neville, queen to Richard III. Anne O'Brien has written an entirely fictitious account based on what little is known of her. Richard and Anne Neville fall in love in their youth but politics, war and ambition for power separate them. Her father wants power over the crown. Edward IV would reign on his own. Henry VI, imprisoned and insane has a bitter wife and egoistic son who also want the crown. Caught between all this intrigue, Anne becomes mainly a pawn pulled this way and that. Throughout she remains loyal to her love for Richard and he to her.Although the book ends on a happy note, we know the unhappy end to her short life and Richard's claim to the throne.This book totally absorbed me. I have had it a while and now I wonder why I left it so long. Ms O'Brien put her imagination to work to good effect in this one. I have made it my January 2012 recommendation!

  • Karen
    2018-11-20 17:36

    This is an unashamedly romantic view of the life of Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. With the novel's focus being from Anne's childhood to her marriage with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the writer leaves us with a happy ending, but brief notes at the end explain that Anne died aged 28/29, her only child predeceasing her, and of course, many readers would alreay know what became of her husband. The author's chosen timeline means that we never actually see Anne Neville become queen.All in all this is a quick, enjoyable read. The first half of the book drags somewhat but the story picks up after the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury and almost earnt the book 4 stars. I can see myself re-reading this one day.

  • Veronica
    2018-11-28 18:16

    This book looked specifically at the relationship between Anne Neville and Richard, brother of King Edward. They were betrothed to each other as children, then the betrothal was broken and Anne was forced to marry Edward the Lancastrian prince. Edward was a cruel boy with a sickening relationship with his mother. Anne is left feeling lonely and unwanted in their marriage. When Anne and Richard are finally reunited, things are not as they were when the two left each other.O'Brien's writing is very much in tune with the characters. It is often seen that Anne, Richard, and King Edward were very authoritative at very young ages. I loved this book and can't wait to see what else O'Brien writes.

  • Starry
    2018-12-06 18:22

    This book had such a promising beginning that I was shocked by the difference in the quality of the writing once the characters arrived in France and in company of Margaret of Anjou and Edward of Lancaster. I don't deny the writer the right to depict these characters as abusive and volatile, but it is unfortunate that it could not be done in a more sophisticated way instead of in a histrionic and tawdry manner like an over sensationalised television soap opera. This is the kind of writing that undermines the genre.

  • Julie
    2018-11-19 20:35

    I enjoyed this tale of Anne Neville, as it was a historical figure that hasn't been done to death, like many of the tudors. Therefore it was nice to learn some of the historical facts of the time. The thought of being married off at 14 seems so foreign to us, and the lack of control of their lives that these women experienced is scary. To be at the whim of your father, brothers, husbands, sons and in some case kings was the way the world worked.

  • нєνєℓ¢ανα
    2018-11-22 17:34

    Excellent, primordial, engaging...!

  • Kelly
    2018-11-20 23:31

    I want to read this, but all the books I read about Richard III invariably fall short of Sharon Kay Penman's Sunne in Splendour. THAT is the definitive portrait of RIII.

  • Marigold
    2018-12-01 16:18

    Three and a half stars. This is the Anne Neville I like to read about! This is quite a fun book to read - only a few anachronisms, & a couple of places where historical accuracy took a back seat to plot and readability. I like Anne as a feisty woman with a mind of her own. In reality, we know very little about her and we're unlikely to find out more, unless some hidden treasure trove of historical documents is ever found - which could happen! We'll never know if Anne and Richard were really "in love", but they had all the ingredients for a successful and happy medieval marriage. They spent several years growing up together in the same household. They were suitable ages for one another and of a similar background. It is absolutely true that no other man available at the time would have been able to secure Anne's half of her inheritance, as Richard did. Did medieval women care about such things? Read "The Paston Letters" - they sure did! I think the only thing I found a bit annoying about Anne in this novel was her insistence that Richard declare his love for her. It just seemed a little over the top, but I suppose it added to the romance and gave them yet another obstacle to overcome, in case they needed one! Anyway, for those who might be interested in reading this - if you are just looking for a good historical romance, I think you might enjoy it. There's lots of action and plots of mayhem and yes, romance. If you know the history & like me, you read everything about Anne & Richard, you still might enjoy it but it's not a history book & it's pretty romancey-sexy, so just read it for fun. In my opinion, this is a much better novel than the Phillipa Gregory novel about Anne - which I can't even remember the name of. There's a lot more period detail in this, and a great deal less annoying use of unrealistic dialogue to explain historical background events. And bonus, Anne is a much richer, warmer, enjoyable character to root for in O'Brien's novel. I liked it that this book ended with the birth of Anne & Richard's son. I don't know if O'Brien plans a sequel but...if so, please let it end before King Edward dies in 1483. We all know how Anne's story ends, & those last two years of her life were neither romantic nor sexy.

  • Sue Smith
    2018-11-20 22:15

    An entertaining read to be sure - based on the few existing facts on Anne Neville, with a whole lot of guessing to fill in between the dates, never the less. I enjoy reading books on jolly old England - the political posturing was worth your life and this one - set in the War of the Roses - is no exception. She was truly a minor character in the scope of their history, essentially a pawn in the big game of Royalty, but it was fun to see her 'fleshed out' to see some of what could have occurred in her very short life. I was glad the author included a brief synopsis of the end of her life as the story was certainly stopped at the 'happily-ever-after' part and we all know that the old English Royalty usually didn't live to ripe old ages surrounded by loving family members. Right?!My biggest beef was the stupid cover. I hate these 'princess' covers and this one was up there (thank God there were no heaving bosoms) - the dress reeked of skanky Halloween party costumes you see advertised for those last minute social engagements. It did nothing to enhance the story nor compliment the character of Anne Neville. Anyways, that's just a personal gripe - this is still a story worth picking up when you're craving a glimpse into a little known figure in English history.

  • Rosanne Lortz
    2018-12-11 18:21

    “This was my favorite read of the entire year.”I saw one reader comment just that about The Virgin Widow, at that time the next title in my to-read pile. High praise indeed, thought I, with a little bit of cynicism–slogging through The Other Boleyn Girl tends to jade your perspective on life. My one hope was that Anne O’Brien’s book would be satisfactory enough to justify a hiatus in the Marcus Didius Falco series. After all, I do have three more Lindsey Davis books waiting on the shelf, and I know those ones are going to be plums….The Virgin Widow is the story of Anne Neville, the daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker, and is set during the tumultuous and confusing Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century. The story picks up after Warwick’s abortive plot to place George, the Duke of Clarence, on the throne, and shows the Earl and his family fleeing to France to escape the wrath of the York king, Edward IV. Anne witnesses her sister Isabel (George’s wife) give birth to a stillborn child aboard ship and finds herself plunged into the uncomfortable world of adulthood.Once in France, Anne becomes a pawn in her father’s hands as he attempts to regain power. Since George is no longer useful, Warwick looks to the house of Lancaster and realigns himself with the exiled Margaret of Anjou (whom he once ousted from the English throne along with her husband Henry VI). He prepares to organize an invasion of England in Margaret’s name and negotiates a marriage between Anne and Margaret’s daughter Edward. At this time Anne is just fourteen years old. In her early years she had been betrothed to the York king’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester. O’Brien uses flashbacks and Anne’s own thoughts to paint a picture of the young girl growing attached to Richard and forced to give up her love for him when her father switches sides by supporting George’s rebellion. With all hopes of an alliance with Richard dashed, Anne must reconcile herself to marriage with the handsome but cruel Edward. The marriage turns out to be even worse than expected. Margaret of Anjou forbids the couple to consummate the union so that she can have it annulled later on when it no longer serves her purpose. Despised by her mother-in-law and mistreated by her volatile husband, Anne harbors romantic dreams of Richard, the man she could not have.At this point in the book I was pretty unhappy with the portrayal of the main characters. Richard (as painted by Anne) was all goodness, light, unicorns, and fairies–nothing like the devious Crookback of Shakespeare’s plays. Margaret was a one-dimensional villainess. To top things off, O’Brien threw in an incestuous relationship (without any historical basis) between Edward of Lancaster and his mother–just in case the reader didn’t already understand that these people are evil! I was starting to be as put off with the liberties taken in this book as I was by the plot line of The Other Boleyn Girl.But when Anne gets a chance to return to England, the story takes a turn for the better. Travelling in Margaret’s entourage, she learns the bittersweet news that her husband has been killed–by Richard’s hand. With her father dead as well–and attainted as a traitor–Anne must make her own peace with the York king if she wants to survive. Anne’s interest in Richard is tempered by the realization that he can be a cold-blooded killer, and also by the fact that he seems to have lost interest in her. Warwick’s estates are forfeit, but Anne is still an heiress in her own right, thanks to the inheritance she will receive through her mother. The king assigns her to the care of her sister Isabel and the newly forgiven George, and she hopes to find a little peace now that the war and her marriage are over.But Richard’s cryptic message–”Do not let them force you to join a covent!”–warns Anne that things are not so simple. If Anne should take the veil, Isabel will receive all of her mother’s lands. Her mercenary guardians are not above using force to keep Anne from her inheritance. There is only one man in England powerful enough to take on the Duke of Clarence–and Anne is not even sure if she still loves him enough to take the “way out” that he offers….Anne O’Brien admits in her Author’s Notes that she went into this novel intending to romanticize the relationship between Anne Neville and Richard, Duke of Gloucester."Is there any evidence of personal affection between Anne and Richard? Although there is no evidence of an attraction between them during their upbringing at Middleham or afterward, when their marriage was mooted, equally there was no evidence that it did not exist. It was my choice to make it more than a dynastic marriage and to write The Virgin Widow as a romance."This is a bold decision to make, and a little implausible if one knows the later history of the couple that is not included in the book. After Richard becomes king, it is rumored that he tried to poison his wife Anne so that he could marry his brother’s daughter and consolidate power. Not exactly the happily ever after the book offers. Of course, those rumors could all be part of the Tudor propaganda put out by Henry VII. It’s hard to say for certain.But despite the historical implausibility of the romance, the romance in The Virgin Widow was very well done in a literary sense. I liked it. I was rooting for them. I especially enjoyed the complexity that O’Brien weaves into Richard’s character in the second half of the novel as Anne comes to realize that he is no longer the innocent boy she once knew. If you’re looking for historical accuracy, this is not the book for you. But if you’re looking for romance with a historical setting, you might well consider this to be your “favorite read of the year.”

  • Kimberly
    2018-11-24 18:12

    A gripping page turnerRomance, politics and adventure all perfectly entwined. Anne O'Brien has a talent for drawing readers in and not allowing them out until the end of the story.

  • Colleen Holste
    2018-11-24 19:25

    Missing pagesI found the book hard to follow at times because of missing pages. There are several blank pages thru out the story

  • Mariska
    2018-12-06 21:32

    Beetje te oppervlakkig

  • Katie
    2018-12-11 16:13

    This is the story of Anne Neville, from the time Richard first entered her world when she was a young girl and he came to live and train under the tutelage of her father, through their betrothal and its eventual negation, through her exile from England and enforced marriage to a one-time enemy, to her return to England and battle for significance and even survival. It is an unlikely love story, but then those are often the best and most poignant. Perhaps because so little fact is known about this oft-forgotten queen of England, I have always been a bit fascinated with her story, which seems to have swung like a pendulum between idyllic, fairytale-like happiness and soul-wrenching tragedy throughout her life, rarely finding a happy medium. In truth, it can be hard to believe that so much could have happened to one young girl in so short a span of time. No other player on the broad stage of the Wars of the Roses occupied such a potentially exalted position on BOTH sides of the struggle...and Anne Neville was but a teenage girl at the time. all of this, coupled with the dearth of documentation about Anne's life makes for an interesting canvas in the hands of the writer. Prior to finding this book, I had read one other historical fiction rendering of the life of Anne Neville, wife to the man who would become Richard III. While Anne often appears in other historical fictions staged during the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV or Richard III, she is seldom the focal point of any of them, so I was thrilled to find this book. Jean Plaidy's The Reluctant Queen was my first in-depth introduction to the historical person of Anne, daughter of Warwick, and while I enjoyed it as a whole, I did not think it showed Anne to be a particularly strong character, and the story carried right through to her untimely death at a very young age. Anne O'Brien not only makes her Anne a strong character, she draws her tale to a close shortly after the birth of Richard and Anne's son, so there is none of the fear and sorrow that typically colors the last years of her life, allowing this book to have a (relatively) happy ending. Aside from enjoying the personality and vitality the author gave to the main characters (Anne in particular), I must add how much I thoroughly appreciated the fact that Ms. O'Brien did not feel the need to write graphic and descriptive sex scenes. I wish more writers would realize that a love story does not suffer in the least for letting what should be private remain so. When the writing is strong, such intentionally lurid additions are unnecessary, and when the writing is weak, graphic sex scenes can never atone for what is lacking. Ms. O'Brien's story made it quite clear that there was a physical relationship between Anne and Richard that went beyond duty to produce an heir, but she never felt the voyeur's need to bring the reader into the bed with the characters, and I applaud her for the choice.Little is known for certain about the life of the real Anne Neville, but Anne O'Brien fills the gaps around what is known with a confident voice. I have read one novel that made the youngest daughter of Warwick a meek, fearful and socially withdrawn shell of a woman. This version comes through with a fire and a backbone that is not only believable but that fits better with the role she would have had the opportunity to play, given the political circles into which she was born and into which she later married (both times). This version of Lady Anne / Princess of Wales / Duchess of Gloucester and future queen of England is someone you not only root for but cannot help but like.Knowing how her life ended, I am glad this story chose to have us leave her in a time of triumph and joy...the way I prefer to remember her. Of all the many books I have read on the various Plantagenet kings, my favorite (so far) to touch on the life of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, eventually to be Richard III, is without a doubt, Sharon Kay Penman's The Sunne in Splendour, followed closely by Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time and the novels of Anne Easter Smith (which deal with various members of the family of Edward IV--and to be fair, take quite a bit of artistic license, so do not look to Anne Easter Smith novels if you require historical accuracy in your reading). At this time, Anne O'Brien's The Virgin Widow stands next to these for its treatment of the woman who was his wife, but more importantly--in an era dominated by marriages made solely for political advantage and monetary gain--Anne was the woman he loved. At a time when Richard could likely have had his choice of noble women and foreign princesses, he fought against brother and King for the chance to make Anne his wife, even with the knowledge that she could be penniless, thus bringing him no advantage whatsoever. Historical romance, indeed. Though there is more leaning towards the "romance" aspect than the accurately historical side of things, this is a highly enjoyable (and quick) read.