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A Rose for the Crown: A Novel Paperback – March 14, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Thus. edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743276876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276870
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inspired by the historical record of Richard III's bastard children, Smith invents a spirited, "tawny-eyed" mistress for the 15th-century king in her sweeping debut. Kate Bywood is plucked from her peasant life at the age of 11 to join the household of her mother's noble cousins, the Hautes, as companion to her timid cousin, Anne. A brief, unwilling marriage to an older, wealthy merchant leaves Kate a young widow with a considerable fortune. A second marriage to George, an opportunistic Haute cousin who prefers the stable boy to Kate, leaves her yearning for love. In a chance encounter, she meets Richard of Gloucester, and the ensuing secret romance is filled with the passion and intimacy her marriage lacks. George is killed during an attack in the forest, and Kate bears Richard three children. The narrative flies when the lovers are together, but once Richard marries Anne Neville, and he and Kate are separated for long stretches, the story loses its spark. Readers hungry primarily for romance may also tire of Smith's details about the complicated internecine rebellions and rivalries among pretenders to the throne. Nevertheless, this story fills in some historical gaps and conjures a winning heroine. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Into the crowded ring of fictional treatments of fifteenth-century English royal court life, rife with strife, this first novelist tosses her colorful hat. From the start, given the novel's length, it is apparent that a copious amount of research has been done. The question is, then, for the first-time historical novelist, has it been done smoothly? What Smith accomplishes with elan is a very credible biographical novel about a woman whose true identity has never been known. Smith creates Kate Haute as the mother of the illegitimate children of the infamous King Richard III, who is reputed to have had his nephew, the boy-king Edward V, and the king's little brother murdered when Richard usurped the throne. Fans of historical fiction will little note nor at all care that this is the author's first novel. Smith's involved plot correlates well with the convoluted politics of the time. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

In my novels, I strive to serve those readers who are looking for accuracy in historical fact and yet also engage those who are looking for a good story with strong characters, a little romance and lots of period detail. A Rose for the Crown and Daughter of York are for those readers who enjoy settling into a book and living with the characters for a good long time.

I spent my childhood in England, Germany and Egypt as the daughter of a British Army colonel. At my boarding school in Surrey a teacher we called "Conky" -- after William the Conqueror -- inspired my passion for history. When in my early 20s, I read Josephine Tey's "A Daughter of Time", I became particularly fascinated by Shakespeare's so-called villain, Richard III.

At age 24, after living and working as a secretary in London and Paris, I came on a lark to New York with my flatmate just for a "two-year stint." Thirty years, two marriages, two children and five cross-country moves later I'm very definitely a permanent resident of the U.S. -- but my love for English history remains.

I began writing professionally a few years after I landed in Plattsburgh, NY near the beautiful Adirondack Mountains with my first husband and daughters, Joanna and Kate. For ten years, I was the Features/Arts Editor for the daily newspaper and wrote articles on every conceivable subject that was not hard news! It proved a wonderful training ground for my foray into authoring.

It was while living in Plattsburgh that I took on another persona as a folksinger, playing in music festivals, clubs, restaurants, and on public radio. When I'm not writing, I can be found either on the local stage or weeding my garden, the latter which I hate almost as much as I do sewing! My husband, Scott, and I love biking, canoeing, cross-country skiing and sailing, which we can do either near Boston, where we live now, or back in the Adirondacks. I should also add that I'm a member of the Richard III Society and the Historical Novel Society.

Customer Reviews

Excellent well researched historical fiction.
E. Breithaupt
Anne Easter Smith has crafted a highly absorbing and intriguing story, relating Richard III's life through the eyes of his mistress.
Anne McC
And if you like this, be sure to read "The Sunne in Splendor" by Sharon Kay Penman.
J. Watson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on April 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I must admit, I had high hopes for this novel. I love an intelligent historical romance, and this looked like it would be right up my alley.

Anne Easter Smith focuses her story on a character who is mostly fictional--her name is in the historical record but it's not clear what for. Smith theorizes that, given Richard III's kindness toward his illegitimate children, perhaps they were all the offspring of one beloved mistress. She surmises that this obscure name may belong to this mistress, and uses the scant historical record as the bones of the story she fleshes out here.

Kate Haute, Smith's protagonist, is that mistress. We follow her through two disastrous marriages and into her relationship with Richard, who will later become king. The spotlight really is on Kate, not on the politics of the day; you'll read a great deal about Kate's mundane life. When the politics begin to appear more heavily in the story, they've perhaps been absent too long. Suddenly the author is trying to cram years of background into a few pages to catch the reader up. It might have worked better to introduce more of the politics into Kate's conversations with Richard and other characters, such as Jack Howard. It's not that I didn't know what was going on--I'm relatively familiar with the history--it's just that it clunked a bit.

Where the story really failed to engage me, though, was in the character department. We'll start with Richard. I understand that Smith was trying to write a sympathetic Richard, but her portrayal is over-the-top perfect. I prefer the more conflicted, nuanced version written by Sharon Kay Penman in _The Sunne in Splendour_, warts and all.

Then we have Kate. Kate is a Mary Sue.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on May 27, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first while reading this book I thought I must have read it earlier so much of it felt familiar. In the beginning I thought that was because the main character in this book, Kate, is almost a carbon copy of Anne from Posie Graeme-Evans Anne series. But no, that wasn't it. Then I knew what it was.

You see, I used to write fan-fiction, stories that people wrote about their favorite TV show or movie or book, generally with the fan inserted into it. In this genera the "Mary-sue" character-a perfect person-pops up a lot. But there is one Mary-sue that pops up more than the others. This is the "Desirable Red head." She is small, slender, red haired and fantastically desirable to all people even if she looks like she's about twelve. She can also heal people amazingly.

That is the main character of this book, Kate. Physically she is exactly like the main character, Anne, from Posie Graeme-Evans' novels, and has the same healing skills (she also hooks up with a royal, just like Anne did.) She is the lover of Richard III, and the book is about her love affair and life with him. I suspect that "Kate" is just the body that Anne Easter Smith put her fantasy love for Richard into. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this novel reads like well written fan-fiction.

This book isn't bad really-it's more that it's very predictable. There's a certain way that historical novels like this one go. The lovers have bad love lives before meeting each other. One of them (usually the woman) will be from a disadvantaged background and thus be refreshingly earthy. That one will have rose to riches in a way that made her spunky and cute, but tough. Both will be essentially virgins the first time they have sex and they will not only fall instantly in love but have a baby immediately.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Rose for the Crown begins with Kate Bywood as a young, outspoken girl who attracts the attention of a well-off relative and is taken into his home as a companion for his mousy daughter. Through many twists and turns, young Kate is married twice and becomes friends with Margaret and John Howard, later to be the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk. Through them, she is introduced to Richard of Gloucester, the future King Richard the Third. A love affair ensues that brings Kate into the circles of royalty and intrigue and ultimately heartbreak.

I wasn't sure at first if I was going to like this novel, as it spends a great deal of time establishing Kate's early life before she meets Richard. In fact, much of that could have been cut in order to get to the heart of the story, the relationship between Kate and Richard. It is from this point that the story takes off and doesn't let go. The author spent a lot of time researching her subjects and is able to seamlessly weave historical characters and situations into her fabricated world. While both Richard and Kate are very young at the time of their relationship, Smith brings them to life and makes us ache with longing for them to remain together. Smith has accomplished that rarest of tasks: she has taken the known facts and embellished them into a believable, tantalizing tale. I especially appreciated her author's notes at the end that established how she obtained her material and why she developed the story as she did.

While a bit slow in the beginning, this book is a wonderful tale of love and intrigue. The author's style developed substantially over the course of the book and she did a fine job of creating the tale of Richard and the mother of his bastard children. Recommended reading for those who enjoy historical fiction.
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